Outliving The Smaller Version. Since Buick introduced the Encore GX in 2020, the automaker has had two SUVs with an Encore badge on sale. Both the Encore and Encore GX compete in the subcompact segment, though the latter is slightly larger in size. For 2023, Buick simplifies things by discontinuing the Encore and choosing to only offer the Encore GX.

The Encore GX occupies an interesting spot in the segment. It’s not quite a true luxury vehicle, but it’s a little more upscale than the average mainstream option. For Buick, this is a good place to be, as luxury options have gone further upstream with higher price tags. From mainstream brands, only Mazda has tried to occupy the same gray area with the CX-30.

Sharp Exterior And Interior Design. The 2023 GX has sharp exterior sheet metal that helps it stand out compared to most of the mainstream subcompact SUVs on sale. The SUV’s front end has angular headlights, a tidy front grille, and fog light housings that are connected by a trim piece to give the GX a smiling face. The overall silhouette of the GX is more hatchback than SUV, which is a good thing in our eyes.

The GX’s odd placement in the market results in an interior that falls into no man’s land. The dashboard has a sweeping, two-tiered design that looks better than a lot of mainstream options, while material quality lands somewhere in between.

Big In Some Places, Small In Others. For consumers looking for a small SUV that’s easy to drive on tight, urban roads, the Encore GX will certainly fit the bill. At just 171.4 inches long and 71.4 inches wide (without the mirrors), the GX is an easy SUV to drive and park. Unfortunately, the GX’s small size results in a small cabin.

While the front seats have enough room for adults, the rear seats are tight with 36 inches of legroom and 38.1 inches of headroom. Additionally, getting three adults to sit side by side is a squeeze, as the GX only has 53.6 inches of rear shoulder room. Passengers will have a hard time getting comfortable in the GX, as the SUV’s seats are narrow.

The GX is also on the back foot on the cargo capacity front. The subcompact SUV has 23.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 50.2 cubic feet of cargo space. These figures trail rivals from both mainstream and luxury brands.

2023 Buick Encore GX Interior

Get The Optional Engine.Buick offers the GX with two engines. We cannot stress how important it is to upgrade to the larger, more powerful engine. While it’s an option, it’s a worthy one that results in a huge difference on the performance front.

The standard engine in the GX is a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 137 horsepower. That, even for a small SUV, is a tiny amount. Performance from the engine is underwhelming, with painfully slow acceleration. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is partially to blame.

The larger turbo 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine makes a more meaningful 155 hp and comes with a traditional nine-speed automatic transmission for all-wheel-drive models. The result is far better acceleration, more responsive shifts, and more responsiveness. The GX’s optional engine is one of the least powerful ones available in the class and the SUV certainly suffers for it.

Final Thoughts. The 2023 Buick Encore GX doesn’t have a lot of redeeming qualities. It has a stylish design and is easy to drive, but it falls behind competitors in nearly every other category. It has a small cabin, uncomfortable seats, underpowered engines, and an interior that doesn’t feel luxurious enough for its placement in the class. There are much better options to explore.

For a luxurious subcompact SUV, check out the Mazda CX-30. It has high-end materials, above-average fit-and-finish, and a gorgeous design. The CX-30 is available with a 250-hp engine, has athletic handling, and high-tech tech features. The Volkswagen Taos is one of the roomier subcompact SUVs available. It has 65.9 cubic feet of total cargo space, 37.9 inches of rear legroom, and great fuel economy figures.

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