Buick’s Tweener CUV Becomes its Sales Stud

The Buick Encore GX, a larger, unrelated Encore with fewer cylinders than you’re used to, quietly appeared in the brand’s stable just as “pandemic” became every newscast’s favorite word. Like its Chevrolet Trailblazer fraternal twin, the Encore GX boasts a more spacious body than its subcompact stablemate and a brace of three-pot engines designer for power and thrift.

While the little Encore has been Buick’s sales leader for years, the brand says that’s already changed. Still, there are no immediate plans to ditch the GX’s smaller namesake.

As reported by Automotive News, Buick expects the Encore GX’s sales dominance to continue, at the expense of the slightly re-positioned Encore. That’s just fine for Buick, as the Encore GX’s loftier price tag means beefier margins.

With the larger (1.3-liter) of its two three-cylinder engines, the Encore GX rates a 31 mpg EPA combined fuel economy figure in front-drive guise, better than its 1.4-liter four-cylinder Encore companion. It’s also more potent, at 155 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A 1.2-liter triple can also be had, connected only to the front wheels.

To prevent too much overlap, Buick dropped the Encore down to two trims for 2020: 1SV and Preferred, with an AWD Preferred stickering for $27,095 after destination. A “base” Encore GX FWD Preferred starts at $25,095, while a top-flight AWD Essence trim (with uplevel engine) retails for $31,495 after destination.

Tweener CUVs are a hot commodity right now, with Mazda’s new CX-30 capturing plenty of buyers in the not-quite-subcompact, less-than-compact space. Chevy intends to do the same with the Trailblazer, offering an alternative to the Trax and Equinox.

According to Buick’s marketing manager, Rob Peterson, the company expects the U.S. auto industry to add 1.5 million annual sales in this new segment — one GM is well-positioned to exploit. For now, the two Encores will “coexist,” he said, adding that, while the Encore posted more sales during the first half of the year, the appearance of the GX model shortly after the calendar change heralds a reversal of fortunes. In June, Peterson said the Encore GX muscled aside the brand’s former No. 1 in terms of volume.

It looks like a quick catch-up. After posting just 2,601 sales in the first quarter, the Encore GX moved 9,256 units in Q2 — a close finish behind the Encore’s 10,033. Last quarter, more than 54 percent of Buick’s volume carried an Encore badge of some type.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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