The compact crossover segment is exploding with new entries from every manufacturer. With no specific sizes to define this segment, some call the vehicles in it "Subcompact." However, we feel that vehicles like the new 2020 Encore GX are better termed "compact." Who are this vehicle's peers in terms of size? The closest matches are the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, Mazda CX-30, BMW X2, and the Hyundai Kona. That is just a partial listing.
However, the price point of the Encore GX is interesting. It starts at around $25K and is equipped with many common features for around $28K. We tested the $35,140 Encore GX Essence trim wit the ST package. While this may seem pricey, it really isn't for the vehicle's size and its content as we will explain.However, at this elevated price point, the Encore GX is going to rub shoulders with some real standouts in the family crossover segment such as the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-5. Let's take a look at what the Encore GX offers that you will not find in most vehicles this size and price point.
Buick Encore GX Rear Camera Mirror
Perhaps the most impressive piece of technology the Encore GX offers that you will not find an inany of the other vehicles we have mentioned here is a rear mirror camera.
This camera is a brilliant solution to a common pair of crossover issues. FIrst up, when you pack all of your stuff in a crossover on a family vacation or college moving day (Forester shown above), you obscure the rear glass. So the rear view mirror is useless. Not so with a rear view camera. The view is perfect. Also, if you own a crossover you know the rear glass is always dirty due to the way the aerodynamics work. The Buick rear view camera is self-cleaning. You will never need to wash the rear glass again if you choose not to.
We understand some folks are technology-averse. They may feel that a rear camera may fail, or that they won't like it. Good news! The camera toggles to be an optical standard mirror. Feel free to write in below how you still don't like change. We are good listeners.
A head up display is a great asset to any driver. It keeps your eyes on the road while still providing important information you need to drive safely. The Buick Encore GX is available with a multi-color, multi-informational Head Up display. Good luck finding that option in a US-spec CR-V Hybrid. Honda supplies that feature to its European shoppers of CR-Vs, but not its American customers. Why?
Steel Roof At The Very Top Trim
One "feature" we do not like in crossovers or SUVs is a massive, delicate glass panoramic roof. While we do like a bit of light in the cabin, a smaller conventional moonroof does that while still keeping the cargo area ready to accept a roof-top soft cargo bag.
Good luck getting a top-trim Forester without also having to settle for a glass roof. How a glass roof jives with the rugged reputation of the Forester is lost on us. If you really want that panoramic roof Buick will supply you one. But you have the option not to get it. Thumbs-up Buick!
Heated Steering Wheel
A heated steering wheel should be available in modest trims of any all-wheel drive vehicle. AWD indicates snowy driving, and a heated steering wheel should be considered a standard feature in a premium vehicle. But it is not standard in the BMW X2, You will have to add a $3,500 package of items to get it and bump the minimum cost of an X2 with AWD to over $42K to get a warm wheel.
Every Conceivable Power and Electronics Input
The world has gone digital, and every passenger in every vehicle wants power. And there are many ways to deliver power and many ways to add an input to a vehicle's infotainment system. The people at Buick throw every option at every occupant. Up front, there is a USB-A and a USB-C option. There is also a 12-volt power outlet, a round Aux-input port and an SD card reader.
In back, there is a 115-volt AC outlet and both a USB-A and USB-C outlet. We've never seen a vehicle by any manufacturer that tried so hard to make life easy for device users. And let's face it - we are all device users.
This ist of five features is certainly not the end of the long list of what Buick gives you. Just as an example, we will throw a sixth very important feature at you as a bonus for reading so far into this story. Buick gives you a spare tire! The last Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring we tested at this price point isn't have one. Nor did the last Hyundai Kona Ultimate we tested. How important is a spare tire? Well, given that with new social distancing mandates you can no longer ride in the cab of a tow truck with the driver, pretty darn important.
Feel free to comment below on your thoughts about these features. We felt that Buick's Encore GX was a fantastic vehicle and deserved to have these six uncommon features pointed out to Buick shoppers.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on the Torque News Facebook Page, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Images by John Goreham except rear camera image which is courtesy of Buick Media Support. Re-use with permission only.