Thriftpower: GM Offers Details, MPG Estimate for Three-Cylinder Buick Encore GX
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.
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.
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.
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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- JMII I had the sedan version of this same car... same engine, same tranny. I have NO idea how this owner managed to keep it looking so good. The interior on ours literally fell apart after about 4 years: I'm talking about peeling plastic and fabric sagging on the door trim and roof, while various parts simply broke off with no warning - including the glove box handle and the power window regulators failed multiple times (a typical VW problem as noted in the listing). I've never seen an interior disintegrate like this, parts snapped or scratched like they were made out of cheapest, thinnest plastic on the planet. Not just interior parts either: the left turn signal housing just feel off one day and the windshield wipers gave up the ghost. It leaked coolant and any parts/service for it were way overpriced, a prime example was a replacement antenna cost $300! WTF? Guess that was one of those high end Audi parts! At around the 8 year mark the trip computer display faded to point where you could only read it at night which was a real shame. Then the tie rods and suspension gave out along with the ABS system. It was almost like the car was only designed to survive for 60K miles. With each passing mile more random parts broke, for example one day a spring fell out from under the drivers seat. How does that even happen? By 80K (in 9 years) this car was a complete mess, it looked like it had been trashed on the inside despite being garage kept and only driven my wife (no kids either). Since there was nothing wrong with the engine I drove it to 100K but the last year of ownership was down right painful as the car shook and squealed constantly as it crumbled to pieces. I refused to put any money into it, I just kept driving it. On the way to trade it in (for my Nissan 350Z) the cruise control stopped working and the sunroof controls fell off in my hand! I've never been so happy to get rid of a car in my entire life! Don't walk RUN AWAY.
3-Cylinder Clown Car. The new Buick. Designed for 3rd world.
This is not the first nor is it the last 3 cylinder vehicle and it is far from being 3rd World. The Yugo, Trabant and the Tata Nano are what comes to mind when talking about 3rd World vehicles. Not my first choice for a drivetrain but I have seen much worse. As for ventiports Buick has had other cars in the past without them (1959 Buick). Buick is making vehicles that will sell which are crossovers and at the same time this vehicle complies with the future EPA standards and is lower cost to manufacture. I prefer the Lacrosse but that didn't sell. We will be seeing more turbo 3s and 4s in all brands until eventually they will be replaced by EVs.