Behind the Wheel

2020 Buick Encore GX Review: This may be the best SUV Buick makes, but it’s not all roses

The Buick Encore GX is a fresh addition to the company’s lineup for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Buick

Why would Buick go through the trouble of making a 2020 Buick Encore GX? The already popular though smaller Encore subcompact SUV has outlasted two of the three SUVs it matured alongside (Rendezvous and Rainer). The larger Envision is just now, after some engine changes and design tweaks, getting to the point that it's a good consideration for U.S. buyers. The larger Enclave can be found in most suburban American grocery store parking lots on the regular.

The Encore GX name has some immediate brand equity from the smaller Encore and fills a lineup spot the same way the Rogue Sport does for Nissan and the Kona does for Hyundai. It's priced that way too, with the model lining up to start around $25,000 and topping out near $30,000.

2020 Buick Encore GXThe Encore GX is easy to maneuver and park.Photo courtesy of Buick

Buick's newest model seems to be a step in the right direction for the company, which has seen its entire cars lineup cut in favor of more profitable and better-selling SUV models. The Encore GX doesn't rock the boat, but merely elevates it.

The car's upgraded turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder power plant is a study in small but mighty. Its 155 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque easily prove plenty for daily driving activities though it's not terribly efficient (26 mpg in the city and 29/30 mpg on the highway, depending on trim level). However, and this is big however, there's a ridiculous amount of turbo lag. This combines with the SUV's light steering and easy maneuverability to make navigating city traffic a challenge.

Think back to the last time you sat in traffic. Imagine, if you will, that the entire left lane has gone and emptied out while you, in the right lane, end up stopped behind a bus, waiting for the throngs to get through the turnstile and seated. There's enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you to maneuver out of your lane and get on your way. You check to make sure it's clear, nudge your way out, and step on the accelerator as to not impede the flow of traffic in your new lane. Now, you wait. Then, eventually, the turbo-three kicks in. That wait is just long enough not make you think, “Should I have done this?" Every. Time.

2020 Buick Encore GXThe Buick Encore GX has enough cargo space to meetPhoto courtesy of Buick

That's the type of logistical challenge that's very real to drivers. Now, whether or not they're able to test that in a dealership loop is another story. What they will see when they're at the dealer is a well-appointed interior in high trim levels, with materials as nice as Hyundais and Kias in the same price range (if you haven't checked out their lineups lately, you're missing out). Its seats are comfortable and the model feels spacious enough for two adults up front for extended periods of time behind the wheel.

The biggest difference between the Encore GX and Envision (from a typical shopper's perspective) is in the back row and cargo area. While most adults will be comfortable in the back row of the GX, taller adults will likely want more room to stretch out when traveling for any extended length of time. Premium amenities like leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, as well as a heated wheel, heated front seats, and remote start are available in top trims.

2020 Buick Encore GXThe car's various dials and buttons are easily reachable inside the cabin, as is the infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Buick

The Encore GX's cargo area is plenty big for daily use. On a call with a representative from Buick, he said that he had enough space for all his hockey gear in the back of the Encore GX, which seems like a pretty reasonable way to say that unless you're packing for a weeks long road trip without laundry facilities, the Encore GX has enough cargo space for you.

General Motors has made significant improvements to its infotainment systems in recent years and how you navigate them. Using the SUV's system was a breeze, especially with Apple CarPlay hooked up. One new feature for the company is touting is Amazon Alexa connectivity, which can run directly though the vehicle rather than vehicle to phone to sky and then back. Some like the option and find the innovation delightful.

2020 Buick Encore GXApple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.Photo courtesy of Buick

The Encore GX also has Android Auto and comes standard with an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen, USB ports, and Bluetooth in every trim level.

Buick has given the Encore GX a suitable amount of standard and available safety technology. It's nothing that will blow anyone's socks off, but for the price range, it's a good level of offering, and perhaps more importantly, works as advertised.

With the Encore GX, Buick has put a foot forth on sold ground for its future. It's a right level of premium at the right price at what should be the right time.

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The 2023 Crosstrek starts at $23,645.

Subaru

Subaru is one of the best at listening to its customers' needs, and the Crosstrek is a great example of that mindset. It's a useful vehicle with plenty of interior space and enough ground clearance to take its passengers well of the beaten path. Today, Subaru announced pricing for the 2023 Crosstrek and Crosstrek Hybrid. The duo will go on sale this summer.

Subaru CrosstrekThe Crosstrek's cabin is adventure-ready and packed with great tech. Subaru

The standard Crosstrek starts at $23,645 before destination and the Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $36,845. Five trims are available for the standard model, including Base, Premium, a new Special Edition, Sport, and Limited. The Hybrid comes in a single trim level. All Crosstrek variants get all-wheel drive with active torque vectoring and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

The Base, Premium, and Special Edition trims come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 152 horsepower. The Sport and Limited trims get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 182 horsepower. Most models come with a continuously variable transmission, but the Base and Premium trims come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Crosstrek Hybrid comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with two electric motors. The plug-in system can deliver 17 miles of electric range.

Subaru CrosstrekThe Crosstrek delivers 8.7 inches of ground clearance.Subaru

True to Subaru form, the Crosstrek comes with a full suite of advanced driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure alerts, adaptive cruise, and more. These features are only available for CVT-equipped models. The Limited trim and the Crosstrek Hybrid add automatic high beams, reverse automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

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Family-friendly three-row SUVs

Three of our favorite three-row SUVs for 2022

The Grand Cherokee L is available with two different powertrain choices.

Jeep

There are more three-row SUVs on sale than ever before, so it can be tough to make a choice between them. You need to balance space, performance, safety, and tech to make your decision, and doing your homework is important. To help you get started down the right path, we've selected three of our favorite three-row family haulers. These are SUVs that bring the latest features and excellent design features to help keep you and your family rolling. Let's get started.

2023 Toyota SequoiaThe Sequoia is all-new for the 2023 model year, and finally stands on level ground with its rivals.Toyota

Toyota Sequoia

Toyota gave the Sequoia a much-needed overhaul for the 2023 model year that brought it up to speed with its competitors. The thirsty V8 and outdated styling are gone, and in their place, Toyota installed a twin-turbo V6 with a hybrid system that produces 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive are available.

The Sequoia’s update brought a new infotainment system with a much more intuitive, fluid interface. It runs on a standard 8-inch or an optional 14-inch touchscreen. Toyota’s new software offers voice controls, standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and much more.

Inside, the Sequioa’s interior feels much more upscale and modern than before, and there’s plenty of room for the entire family and all their gear across its three spacious rows. Starting with the Limited trim, Toyota gives luxurious standard features, including heated and ventilated front seats, a larger touchscreen, a hands-free liftgate, and a heated steering wheel.

2023 Kia TellurideKia updated the ultra-popular Telluride for 2023 with refreshed styling and features.Kia

Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride is easily one of the best family vehicles from the last ten years, and it offers great value on top of its functional characteristics. Kia updated the SUV for 2022 with a new 10.25-inch infotainment system and a highway driving assistance system.

The Telluride comes with a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. The SUV’s engine may not be the most powerful or thrilling, but it gets the job done and offers refined, smooth operation.

Kia equips the base Telluride with seating for eight, but the optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce capacity to seven. Interior fit and finish, materials, and styling are all far more upscale than the Telluride’s price tag would suggest, making the SUV an excellent family companion for longer road trips.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee LThe Grand Cherokee got a third row for the first time with the new L.Jeep

Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Jeep completely overhauled the Grand Cherokee for 2021 and added a new three-row “L” model shortly after. The new Grand Cherokee L features boxy, muscular styling that works with its stretched profile. Even with a new shape, the SUV is immediately recognizable as a Grand Cherokee.

Jeep offers two engines in the 2022 Grand Cherokee L. The base mill is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is available that produces 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the V8 comes standard with four-wheel drive.

The L is more premium inside than most likely expect from a Jeep, but at the top end of the model line it’s deep into luxury territory, both on price and design. The Jeep is just shy of its competitors on interior space, but there’s still plenty of room for up to seven people. Top trims get luxury finishes like leather and woodgrain, and available tech like a rear-seat entertainment system helps keep everyone happy for the long haul.

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