By on November 19, 2019

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Yes, that’s the name of an old Ford engine with double the cylinder count as the subject of this piece, but it’s still a great name. As for the star of this show, Buick’s upcoming Encore GX is a tweener vehicle imported from the other side of the Pacific to fill a gap between the existing Encore and the larger Envision. It’s a gap not many people took notice of, but it’s one GM is nonetheless choosing to fill in its Buick and Chevrolet lineups.

As splashier products land at the L.A. Auto Show, the automaker has filled in a few information gaps on its first-ever three-pot Buick.

As you’re already aware, two three-cylinder turbo engines find a home in the Encore GX — a base 1.2-liter mated to a continuously variable transmission and front-wheel drive, and a tonier 1.3-liter unit offered with a CVT in front-drive guise and a nine-speed automatic when paired with all-wheel drive.

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While the smaller of the two engines is said to boast 137 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque, Buick doesn’t want to talk about that, preferring instead to talk up the 1.3L’s 155 hp and 174 lb-ft. That puts the Encore GX well above its smaller namesake on the power ladder. It also shows that there is a replacement for displacement. The aging Encore’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder generates 138 hp and 148 lb-ft.

While a three-cylinder Buick may not sound thrilling, the brand at least lets you dress it up with a Sport Touring (ST) package (see above photos). Yes, there’s red lines all over this car, joining exclusive wheels and a black mesh grille peppered with red lines of its own. Someone’s been hanging out with Chevy too much.

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Size-wise, the Encore GX slots nicely between the Encore and Envision, offering boosted cargo room (25.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat) that’s closer to the larger of the two, and its fuel economy does not suffer for it. In fact, the Encore GX is poised to become the thriftiest Buick in the lineup, if not of all time. GM estimates a combined fuel economy figure of up to 31 mpg, which we assume stems from a FWD, CVT-equipped model with the smaller engine.

Put into context, a FWD Encore 1.4L returns 27 mpg combined. The Envision line, on the other hand, tops out at 25 mpg combined when equipped with base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and FWD. Just to tap into history a bit, the thriftiest Encore GX returns the same mileage in combined driving that a Buick Century diesel returned on the highway 35 years ago.

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Regardless of trim, all Encore GXes will boast forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, and IntelliBeam headlamps with automatically-adjusting high and low beams. Pony up extra if you want things like automatic parking assistant with braking, adaptive cruise, and two safety features this writer feels should be standard kit on all new vehicles: blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Encore GX lands early next year. While GM hasn’t released pricing, others have.

[Images: General Motors]

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