Cylinder Diet: 2020 Buick Encore GX Brings a Brace of Triples

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Like its Chevrolet division mate, Buick plans to spend the 2020 model year filling white space in its lineup, hauling the tweener Encore GX from overseas to plug the gap between the existing subcompact Encore and the larger Envision. Beneath its hood, however, the Encore GX is anything but larger — at least when displacement is concerned.

Once the Encore GX arrives, the Ford EcoSport won’t be the only domestic crossover available with a three-cylinder engine. In fact, the Encore GX will be the only crossover offered in America with a choice of triples. No four-bangers invited to this party at all.

As chance would have it, your author was perusing a GM fleet order guide sent his way by a reader when a quick-on-its-feet GM Authority published the same details contained within. The info is something of a shock, though it really shouldn’t be. Automakers are getting very skilled in wringing more power out of less displacement.

The order guides point to two engine offerings for U.S.-bound Encore GX models: a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder and a 1.3-liter unit of the same configuration. Power for the smaller mill comes to 137 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque, a downgrade of 1 hp from the old 1.4L four-banger found in the Encore, but an upgrade of 18 lb-ft.

That engine carries a “standard turbo” designation in the order guide. The “premium turbo” option makes 155 hp and 174 lb-ft — a 2 hp improvement and 3 lb-ft downgrade from the newer 1.4L engine found in this writer’s 2018 Cruze (and, until recently, available in higher-spec versions of the Encore).

In Chinese-market models the 1.3L makes 162 hp and 177 lb-ft, so American buyers stand to see a slight power downgrade. However, keep in mind that these U.S. figures are manufacturer estimates.

Putting these respectable output figures to the drive wheels are a continuously variable automatic (the sole choice with the 1.2L) or a nine-speed conventional automatic found in all-wheel drive models equipped with the larger of the two engines.

As we’ve told you before, moving up to an Encore GX over its smaller stablemate will mean five additional cubic feet of rear cargo space, a slightly more stylish exterior, and as we’ve found out today, a greater measure of grunt. Production will take place in South Korea, with the vehicle arriving on these shores early next year as a 2020 model.

[Images: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Aug 08, 2019

    Rope pull starter is a standard option.

  • Mpv Mpv on Aug 09, 2019

    GM NEVER FAILS TO DISAPPOINT!!! I own a loaded 2017 Encore AWD, which my wife uses for city driving. While she loves this vehicle, I was never a fan of the engine choices. 153HP is merely adequate. OK for city driving, but hardly adequate for passing. There were some early rumors about GM offering a higher HP engine for the Encore in the 180-200HP range, which would be welcomed. I was going to consider the new Encore GX, but after reading this, I will either move upscale or purchase another brand. For a loaded Encore GX, the list price will be over $35,000. A 3 cylinder engine is not acceptable, regardless of the turbocharging!

  • Ronin Or can sedans be saved from themselves? Modern sedans have very low entry and seating, and unnecessarily downward sloping rear roofs. This may have been a sleek design center 25 years ago, but it's nice to have an alternative to SUVs for the olds (ie, anyone over 30).
  • Bd2 The Hyundai Sonota is the best sedan on the market right now.
  • Kcflyer hang in there Lexus. Keep making the IS with the V8 and sooner or later I will buy a new one :)
  • 1995 SC I'll take Mystichrome. And a different car
  • Wolfwagen I wish I could afford one of these except that stupid short master. Has no one learned from the Hummer H2 SUT?