2022 Buick Encore GX
2022 Buick Encore GX
The 2022 Encore GX five-seat crossover blends hatchback utility, the ability to tow 1,000 lb, available all-wheel-drive traction, and premium trim. Introduced last year, for 2022 the only thing new with the Encore GX is some paint colors.
Buick still sells a smaller Encore, based on an older platform.
The Encore GX has a handsome body with nice proportions and slim headlights. The cabin is also attractive, with a wing-like dash and upholstered trim surrounding an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
Buick fits a 1.2-liter turbo-3 to the base Encore GX, but for a few hundred dollars more it installs a slightly more powerful 155-hp, 1.3-liter turbo-3. With front-wheel drive and a CVT, the Encore GX scoots through traffic with the right mix of energy and refinement. With all-wheel drive, a 9-speed automatic takes over shifting duties.
It’s considered a five seater, but four passengers with gear is more like it. With the rear seat folded it can hold 50 cubic feet of cargo, including 8-foot-long objects, because the front passenger seatback lays down nearly flat.
Base versions with the 1.2-liter turbo-3 earn EPA ratings of 29 mpg city, 31 highway, 30 combined, while the 1.3-liter engine gets 29/32/30 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 26/29/27 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The NHTSA gives it five stars in its crash tests, while the IIHS hasn’t tested one yet. Automatic emergency braking is standard, along with LED headlights, automatic high beams, and active lane control.
Made in South Korea, the Encore GX comes in Preferred, Select and Essence models.
At about $26,000, the Encore GX Preferred with the 1.2-liter engine and front-wheel drive has 18-inch wheels, keyless start, cloth and synthetic leather seats, power features, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 1.3-liter engine is optional on the Preferred, and for about $500 it’s well worth it.
For about $28,000 the Select gets the 1.3-liter engine, plus heated front seats, blind-spot monitors, remote start, satellite radio, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The Encore GX Essence with leather upholstery starts at about $32,500, but desirable options can push the price to more than $37,000. They include a panoramic sunroof, Bose premium audio, a hands-free power tailgate, a surround-view camera system, wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display and adaptive cruise control, automatic park assist, a rear camera mirror, and front and rear parking sensors.
Buick’s warranty covers the car for 3 years/36,000 miles.
The Encore GX has a stylish and appealing shape, with curves that disguise the fact that its function is utility. It’s 171.4 inches long, about the size of the old Honda Element, and rides on a wheelbase of 102.2 inches.
Slim LED headlights frame a broad wing-like grille. They lead into body sides with a trio of deeply sculpted lines that tease its body upward to the rear end. It’s not that much different from the older Encore hatchback, but it’s more striking, thanks to subtle touches like the splines of metallic trim that run along the blacked-out roofline.
That wing-like grille reappears in the shape of the instrument panel dash. The Preferred and Select have cloth seats and plastic on the dash and doors, but overall the trim feels premium. The Essence gets leather upholstery and metallic-look trim and dash panels with brown or black cloth, or synthetic leather. There’s a deep console and a bin for smartphones, but the 8.0-inch touchscreen tilts back at a slightly awkward angle.
In the Essence, the power driver’s seat has good travel for tall drivers, but in all models the front seat cushions are too narrow and flat for wide hips. The Essence has lots of plush materials and sound deadening.
In back, two adults will fit well thanks to big door openings, a high and well-shaped seat, and good knee room. There’s a narrow spot for a third passenger. The GX is more comfortable in the rear than the older Encore.
There is 23.5 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats, and 50.2 cubic feet when the rear seatbacks are down. That’s not much less than the larger, more expensive Buick Envision. It’s a significant convenience that the front passenger seatback folds flat to carry objects up to about eight feet long.
The outward vision is just OK, especially toward the rear.
We haven’t driven the base Preferred model with the 137-hp 1.2-liter turbo-3, but for only $500 more, we’ll take the 155-hp 1.3-liter turbo-3. We’ve driven that one, and it’s quick enough, as the GX only weighs 3,025 to 3,273 lb. That engine has 174 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a CVT in front-wheel-drive versions; with all-wheel drive, it gets a 9-speed automatic. We like it with the CVT, where it makes excellent use of its low-end torque for a 0-60 mph time of about eight seconds. The CVT allows the driver to flick through imaginary gears (since CVTs use pulleys and belts, they don’t have actual gears).
In the Essence, the engine is muted by plenty of sound deadening.
The GX absorbs bumps in the city well, and stays mostly calm on highways. However the suspension is somewhat noisy; it thunks over bumps, while the tires struggle to cope with potholes and manhole covers.
But the grip from the suspension with those tires is good, in corners. The steering is responsive and precise, although it itself doesn’t relay much information about the road surface.
The Encore GX offers a lot for the money: stylish hatchback looks, a roomy cabin for its small size, a quick little engine that gets 30 mpg, an excellent CVT, responsive steering, and a sweet ride. Spend a bit more for all-wheel drive with a 9-speed automatic, and you have a tough and good-looking little crossover.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection