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Driven: 2024 Buick Encore GX Is Refreshed and Raring to Go

One of our favorite small SUVs is even better

2024 Buick Encore GX front
  • Buick's smallest SUV gets a heavy refresh for 2024.
  • Exterior styling update includes a new front fascia that transforms the face of the car.
  • Touchscreen and digital instrument panel are now housed under one panel.

Let’s hear it for simplicity. For 2024 Buick is nixing the confusing Encore and Encore GX nameplates and just going with the latter. What’s more, the subcompact SUV gets a healthy refresh with revised styling based on the gorgeous Wildcat concept we saw last summer.

We already like the current iteration of the Encore GX, which is one of Edmunds' top-ranked extra-small SUVs. The refresh makes it even better thanks to the additional features, revised cabin materials and an expanded trim lineup. The entry-level trim is dubbed Preferred while the midlevel trim gets the moniker of Sport Touring. The Avenir nameplate is reserved for the top-of-the-line Encore GX.

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2024 Buick Encore GX front

New face for a new year

The front fascia gets the most noticeable change, with a revised grille that’s been pushed just a bit lower. It’s a handsome face, though the grille is just a little too reminiscent of the 2020-2022 Ford Escape if you ask us. There are some cool-looking daytime running lights up top that point to the new Buick logo. The actual LED headlights are lower and flank. The rear, however, remains the same as in 2023 save for the brand’s new badge.

We dig the 18-inch gloss black wheels on the Sport Touring trim, but the Avenir goes bigger and brighter with 19-inch premium pearl nickel wheels as standard fare. We think the Encore GX looks especially eye-catching in the Copper Ice Metallic paint scheme, which is available on the two lower trims but absent on the Avenir. In fact, the Avenir is only available in five rather staid colors. However, you’ll get a unique grille, clear LED taillight enclosures and chrome bumper accents when you pony up for the top trim.

2024 Buick Encore GX interior

Screen time

The update is a little more subtle inside, as the overall design is relatively the same. For most models, everything below and aft of the air-conditioning controls is identical to the pre-refresh GX.

However, the central air vents are no longer perched on top of the dashboard and dash; they are now sandwiched between the climate controls and the touchscreen. The vent relocation was necessary for the new touchscreen, which grows from 8 to 11 inches and is now housed under one pane of glass alongside the digital instrument panel. The overall effect looks quite nice, and even a bit more premium than fancier Buicks that are older and don't sport the newest design language. We love that wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are here as well.

However, once the screens are turned there is plenty of unused real estate on those screens. It’s a pity the infotainment and gauge cluster don’t fill out the screen surface a bit more. There are a few questionable materials inside as well, but overall the interior is a decent place to spend some time.
If you go for the top Avenir trim, you’ll get "Avenir" embroidered on the headrests, Avenir-branded doorsills, and a unique beige and black interior color scheme.

2024 Buick Encore GX rear

Two tiny engines

The 2024 Buick Encore GX will continue with the current model's powertrain lineup. To recap, the front-wheel-drive Encore GX Preferred is driven by a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that makes a respectable 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Select another trim level, or opt for the Preferred with all-wheel drive, and you'll be bumped to a turbocharged 1.3-liter unit with 155 hp and 174 lb-ft on tap. A continuously variable automatic transmission (or CVT) is standard with all FWD models, while checking the box for AWD swaps in a nine-speed traditional automatic. In Edmunds' testing, an AWD Encore GX with the 1.3-turbo accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds — not blazing, but quicker than some rivals.

Off the line, the 1.3-liter powerplant is pretty responsive, with the turbocharger masking the lack of one cylinder. However, get it up to speed and ask for a bit of passing power and you’ll be met with a delay of at least a two-count before the transmission downshifts and supplies the oomph you’re asking for. That is to say, plan your highway overtakes wisely and pray you don’t need to get out of someone’s way quickly.

The brakes feel a tad overboosted, with a firm pedal that can make them seem a bit touchy at first. Drivers will get used to it but know that your foot need not go to the floor to get this little guy to stop.

Our quick test drive of the 2024 Encore GX didn’t include any hot-to-trot back roads, but the little SUV handles choppy city streets just fine. A Watts link rear suspension on our all-wheel-drive tester likely has something to do with that, smoothing the ride out over broken pavement. Speaking of, we like that the Encore GX can put the power down to just the front wheels with the touch of a button. All-wheel drive isn’t needed every day and you’ll likely see even better fuel economy than the EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg highway when taking advantage of sunny-day driving conditions.

Commuting in the Encore GX should be pretty easy with the comfy front seats available with heating. Standard safety features include lane keeping assistance and lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert. Blind-spot warning is also standard, but you’ll have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control and a wireless charging pad.

Including destination charges, the 2024 Buick Encore GX starts at just under $27,000 for a Preferred trim with front-wheel drive and the smaller engine. If you want a bit more boost, add a couple hundred bucks to the price tag if you want the 1.3-liter. The stylish Sport Touring only costs about $1,000 more, going up to about $33,000 for an Avenir. All-wheel drive adds $1,600 to the price of any 1.3-liter model.

Edmunds says

The Buick Encore GX is already one of the best subcompact SUVs on the market, and the changes in store for 2024 make it that much sweeter. It’s not the quickest car on the market, but it offers an admirable amount of technology and comfort at a decent price.