By on March 20, 2019


The pint-sized Buick Encore subcompact crossover came to China in 2012, and, judging by the photo directly above, the launch of an updated model in 2016 was a splashy affair, indeed.

Back in the days when General Motors was looking to rapidly grow its market share in the world’s largest car market, Chinese and American Encores shared the same underpinnings, engines, and (for the most part) bodies. That’s about to change, and now we have a glimpse of the 2020 Chinese-market Encore ahead of the launch of an American-market model.

Wanna bet the Chinese are getting the looker of the two?

Check out these completely unclothed spy shots published by GM Authority. That’s the 2020 Encore we won’t get, looking a lot like a downsized Enclave with more appealing flanks. Frankly, your author finds this ride quite fetching, especially when compared to the existing Encore:

2017 Buick Encore Premium AWD – Image: © Timothy Cain

It’s expected we’ll see our next-generation Encore appear late this year, riding atop a different platform than its Chinese counterpart. Spy shots of that model show a vehicle with more upright proportions than the red star special, though its grille will surely follow the global herd.

China’s new Encore dons the automaker’s GEM (Global Emerging Markets) platform, a B- and C-segment architecture developed for use on lower-end models in overseas markets. It debuted beneath China’s Buick Excelle sedan for 2018.

Like the North American Encore, the overseas version will also have a Chevrolet counterpart — only this one carries the retro Tracker name. See leaked Chinese photos of it here. Note that the front end looks like an amalgam of the current Chevy Trax and its full-size Traverse stablemate. Both Tracker and not-for-us Encore grow slightly compared to the current-generation models, and the North American models probably will, too. However, we’ll likely see a return of the previous 1.4-liter four-cylinder powerplants while Chinese customers get a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder.

Interestingly, the fortunes of the American and Chinese Encores are heading in opposite directions. For the 2013, 2014, and 2015 calendar years, Chinese Encore sales outpaced American volume, with sales rising after that point in the U.S. and falling in the People’s Republic. The Encore is Buick’s best-selling U.S. model by a nearly 2:1 margin over the runner-up Enclave, with 93,071 examples unloaded last year. Sales rose 5.7 percent in 2018.

[Images: General Motors, © Timothy Cain/TTAC]

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29 Comments on “China’s New Buick Encore: Unusually Strong Visual Appeal, and Not Coming Here...”

  • avatar

    Congratulations it’s a ripoff of the new RAV4

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Buick sells 5x in China (1 million) vs the US market (200k).

    It’s like an entirely different company in China, so the fact that one vehicle or another isn’t sold in the US is pretty irrelevant.

  • avatar

    Had an Encore as a rental this summer, and it was surprisingly nice to drive. It was also somewhat underpowered, got unremarkable fuel economy, and had a laughable sticker of +/- $32,000.

    (This is the part where Norm tells me that I can actually pick one up for $13,995…)

  • avatar

    Can GM screw up Buick’s best selling model in the US? I’m guessing they can.

  • avatar

    “our next-generation Encore … a vehicle with more upright proportions than the red star special”


    Now I don’t need to exterminate an entire People for ruining one of my fave rides.

    But there still remains a reckoning for changing the grille.

  • avatar

    We are not getting a new SUV? Could it be that we have finally reached peak SUV? Oh please say it’s so.

  • avatar

    So in 2016 I wanted another car for my wife to drive back and forth to her moms place 100 miles each way, I was leasing her a Chevy Cruze when Buick offered a reasonable lease for a Buick Encore. I went just to check it out and when I spotted one in River Rock color ( brown) it reminded me of a color change I did on my 69 Camaro, from hugger orange to a Corvette brown, I just had to drive it and to my surprise it was a delight to drive, not so much underpowered as some stated, but easy to drive and park and great on gas. Here’s the catcher, I could of bought it with my GM discount for like $18k + something ( listed for $25k ) I chose to lease, now after having it for over 2 1/2 years with only 21k miles on a 39 k mile lease I thing I’ll just buy it for around 13k +, yeah it’s small but – “just the two of us, we can make it if we try, just the two of us building castles in the sky, just the two of us, You and I ” Bill Withers 1981

    • 0 avatar

      The inlaws have a 2015 in the metallic brown so her sister picked one up in Coopertino-sharp color. They have a firm ride but are fun to zip through traffic and are far from a penalty box like some of the economy based competitors like HR-V.

      The Encore is well under $20K but when the new model is showing up on the dealer lots there might even be better deals.

  • avatar

    Given the state of affairs at GM Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get the Chinese Trax/Encore in a couple years.

    GM has separated GMK’s engineering department into a separate company from the car assembly operation. With the new structure, the assembly company could go BK and be liquidated, while the engineering operation continues.

    The assembly operation closed one plant last year and the one building the Malibu and Aveo is running at a very low rate.

    The plant building the Trax is healthy enough, but the Opel Mokka version will be transitioned to a PSA platform in a year, and the Opel version of the Spark will be dropped outright. That is another big piece of export business gone from GMK, which nearly collapsed last year due to huge losses.

    There is no way the Mexican plant that builds some of the Trax could make up the difference, because they would have to take production slots away from the (more expensive and probably more profitable) Equinox, so I expect to see Chinese Trax and Encores in the US, unless US protectionist tariffs make them more expensive than an Equinox.

  • avatar

    Looker? Sounds like someone’s trying to score an all-expense paid trip to China ;-) All ribbing aside, this looks like any other small generic CUV to me. I don’t think we’re going to be any worse off as a society without this. Plenty of consolation prizes out there – as in 2-3 from each manufacturer who sells vehicles in our country. We will survive, hey hey.

  • avatar

    One missed detail from the linked article — the pictured car is China-exclusive, but the US model will *also* be sold in China.

  • avatar

    Hey, check out this new model that we’re hosting ZERO PICTURES OF! Weak. I did follow the link to check it out on the GM Authority site though and for sure it looks better than the current model. But duplicating the “new Buick look” — a modern revival of the 1960s’ “longer lower wider” (have you SEEN the length of the Regal wagon? gorgeous) — on a tall stubby car meant using huge ridiculous cladding on the sides to disguise height, like some Hyundai Tuscons. It would be much better-looking as a normal-height hatchback.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have seen base new 2019 Encores as low as 14,999. For that price it would be worth buying one.

  • avatar

    Unpopular opinion, I think the current Encore is an attractive vehicle (actually I think the entire Buick lineup other than the bland outdated Invasion is attractive), and is one of the only good deals in the subcompact CUV class.

    The new Chinese design is far inferior to the current one, much more busy and forgettable. I agree it is very reminiscent of the current RAV4, but the “trapezoid” look is the new style for CUVs, see the Eclipse Cross as well.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    One dealership in Cincinnati is advertising a Base 2019 Encore with front wheel drive for $14,999. For that price this is a good deal. Encore might not be my first choice but at the right price it is good enough and there are much less desirable vehicles. I am not going to knock the Encore because it is obviously selling and people like it.

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