|177||Torque (lb-ft)||162 - 174|
|48.4||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||50.2|
|up to 5||Seating (passangers)||up to 5|
Buick, GM’s semi-luxury brand, has evolved with changing times in the automotive industry. A lineup that exclusively featured sedans prior to the early-00’s introduction of the Rendezvous now consists solely of crossovers with the 2020 termination of the Regal. The current lineup caters to the market trends and offers shoppers access to premium refinement on an affordable budget. Anchoring the entry-level to the Buick lineup are two similar models with similar names, and while both are attractive, it’s understandable that many would ask, “What’s the difference between the 2021 Buick Encore vs 2021 Buick Encore GX?”
The Encore is the genuine entry-level model, with the lowest pricing of any Buick. The Encore GX includes more premium features but earns the distinction of its own model, not just a high trim, for being minutely larger and featuring unique powertrains and exterior styling. The Encore GX will please those with German premium taste and a mainstream budget. It also offers better fuel efficiency and a broad array of standard safety tech. However, Encore’s pricing can’t be beat, and Buick sacrifices none of their distinctively well-mannered characteristics to achieve that. Plus, the smaller Encore has a stronger, quicker powertrain under the hood.
Both models stand out in their own right, and fans of the Buick brand should be impressed by these entries to the subcompact crossover segment. Tech-savvy shoppers should appreciate that in addition to efficient powertrains and premium interiors, the Encore and Encore GX both include state-of-the-art infotainment systems, advanced connectivity options, and excellent connected services. We love them both equally – the Encore GX for its premium nature and the Encore for the value it represents – and we’re sure that you’ll agree when you visit our dealership for a test drive!
Both Encore and Encore GX are praised for the smooth, comfortable ride delivered by their light, precise steering, and refined suspension. Both models are built with MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension systems designed with rough city streets in mind. The urban-oriented subcompacts are nimble parking lot navigators. The 100.6”/102.2” wheelbases and 168.4”/171.4” overall lengths (Encore/Encore GX) enable turning circles under 37’ for both models, and a total width under 6’ helps them squeeze in the tightest parking spots.
The emphasis on effective city driving extends to the powertrains, which is one of the great distinctions between the two models. Every Encore is equipped with a 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder that sends up to 155 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Encore GX can be equipped with either of its 3-cylinder turbos: a 1.2L producing 137 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque or a 1.3L with 155 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The standard FWD-only 1.2L engine is paired to a CVT while the 1.3L gets a 9-speed automatic or the CVT, both of which enable smoother acceleration and improved fuel efficiency over the Encore’s 6-speed.
The 2021 Encore is estimated to achieve 24 MPG city and 29 MPG highway when equipped with AWD (FWD models gain 1 MPG each). Despite being slightly larger, every Encore GX does better with fuel economy. The 1.2L FWD models get 28 MPG city and 31 MPG highway. Meanwhile, FWD models with the 1.3L get 30 MPG city and 32 MPG highway while AWD models get 26 MPG city and 29 MPG highway.
AWD is not available on the base Encore; shoppers have to upgrade to Preferred trim and then select AWD to get that optimal all-weather performance. Similarly, the base Encore GX in Preferred trim with the 1.2L engine cannot equip AWD in any trim. One must first upgrade to the Encore GX’s 1.3L engine and 9-speed automatic transmission to get the option of AWD. The step up to AWD is available to all three trim levels and slightly widens the gap between Encore and Encore GX pricing.
After the exterior styling, the next distinction shoppers will notice about Encore and Encore GX will be the driver assistance features. The Encore shows its price range here, while Encore GX makes its bid for premium status. There are some key differences between safety options and availability here.
One of Encore’s greatest safety traits is the 10 standard airbags and high strength steel safety cage that it shares with the Chevy Trax. Except for a rear vision camera, Encore features no standard advanced driver assists. One must upgrade to Preferred trim to gain access to popular assist features.
The Safety Package includes side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert systems to notify the driver when a vehicle or object is detected in their blind spots. The Safety Package II, new for 2021, offers additional collision-prevention systems, including Rainsense automatic wipers, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Front and Rear Park Assist. Getting all of that puts the price point of the Encore at around $25,790, which is more than the base Encore GX in Preferred trim.
Despite starting at a higher $24,200 to the Encore's $23,200 price point, the Encore GX features the Buick Driver Confidence suite standard, which includes all the following at no additional cost:
Forward Collision Alert with Automatic Emergency Braking
Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
Forward Distance Indicator
Intellibeam automatic high beams
Most of these features are notably absent from the Encore options list. Adding to this, the Safety Package for the 2021 Encore GX includes Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. With that kit and other required selections, the Encore GX can be equipped with a thoroughly comprehensive range of driver assistance features for $26,565.
Top-trim Encore GX Essence models can opt for the Advanced Technology and Convenience Packages to equip Rainsense wipers, an HD 360-degree camera view, and an automatic parallel/perpendicular parking assist that does the hard work for you. However, these models are significantly pricier at $32,175 with the required selections. So while Encore GX is undoubtedly better equipped, if Rainsense wipers or Front Park Assist features are not essential to you, the Encore is definitely the pocket-friendly way to go.
One of the premier benefits of buying GM is a state-of-the-art infotainment system with a responsive interface, intuitive, customizable layout, and comprehensive standard features. Encore’s touch screen is 7”, while Encore GX’s is 8”, but both feature standard Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus Bluetooth connectivity as a matter of course. Both models have standard Buick Connected Access capability and 3-month SiriusXM trial subscriptions too.
Active noise cancellation and the benefits of Buick QuietTuning sound engineering make every Encore cabin a serenely quiet place to be. However, limited trim and package menus leave Encore buyers without options to improve the infotainment and sound system. The average user should be satisfied thanks to the comprehensive nature of the standard features and impressive sound insulation, but audiophile types will likely prefer the Encore GX.
That’s because the pricier Encore GX models can access a 10-speaker Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, Apple/Android connectivity, and premium infotainment with on-board navigation. A totally wireless smartphone integration system is appealing – never forget a charger again! – and the upgraded infotainment offers access to even more apps and features that should appeal to technologically inclined drivers of all ages. Select models even have access to Amazon Alexa Built-In, bringing one of the market’s most popular and effective voice assistants right into your car and allowing for Alexa to control your vehicle from your enabled device.
Buick Connected Services are available to all vehicles in the Encore and Encore GX lineups. Complimentary Connected Access for 10 years allows drivers to use their in-car voice assistant or mobile device to check on vehicle diagnostics, review tips to improve their driving, and earn insurance discounts. You can even use the brilliant Buick Marketplace app to shop and pay for food, hotel rooms, gas, and more. Paying for the upgraded Remote Access allows you to use your smartphone for remote vehicle controls, vehicle location services, and on-demand diagnostics via OnStar. Either plan can be augmented with unlimited data for the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.
Crowning the connected services is the Unlimited Access plan, which includes data for Wi-Fi. The plan also adds turn-by-turn and connected navigation services so live traffic info and local points of interest can be accessed on-screen. Finally, users with this plan gain access to in-vehicle apps from Pandora to Fox Sports to the Wall Street Journal, unlocking truly unlimited entertainment options for drivers and passengers alike.