A black 2021 Buick Encore is parked at a lookout in front of mountains at sunset.

What’s The Difference Between The 2021 Buick Encore and the 2021 Buick Encore GX?

The Buick Encore and Buick Encore GX are General Motors’ pillars of newer generation sub-compact crossover SUVs. The design of both vehicles targets consumers looking for something compact to maneuver and nimble on the street. But how do they compare to one another? And what are the actual differences between the 2021 Buick Encore vs 2021 Buick Encore GX? Well, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of what separates the two from one another and why one may have more appeal to a certain demographic over the other.

The Buick Encore GX Has Higher Top-End Performance

There’s no real reason to beat around the bush here: The 2021 Buick Encore GX comes with more powertrain options than its smaller sibling, and the extra option makes all the difference in the world when it comes to overall top-end performance. Technically, the Buick Encore has an ever-so-slightly better engine than the Encore GX, which clocks in at 1.4-liters. The turbocharged 4-cylinder produces 155 horsepower and up to 177 lb-ft of torque.

The Buick Encore GX, however, has an optional 1.3-liter turbocharged engine that produces up to 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, which is only slightly less in torque. The base Buick Encore GX engine is a turbocharged 1.2-liter EcoTec, which generates 137 horsepower and up to 162 lb-ft of torque with optional engine start/stop technology. So, while this engine is a bit weaker in comparison to the regular Encore engine, it still will provide you with plenty of pep to get you where you need to go.

One other interesting tidbit is that the fuel economy is largely the same for both versions of the Buick Encore. While it might seem like the smaller engine and larger wheelbase combination would make for lower gas mileage, that actually is not the case. The 1.4-liter on the Encore will get you 25 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway with standard front-wheel drive. While this is good, both of the Encore GX engines are slightly better.

The 1.2-liter engine in the GX gives drivers 28 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway with the front-wheel drive. Meanwhile, the 1.3-liter option gets the best gas mileage of the three engines. With this engine, you will get up to 30 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway with the standard front-wheel drive. The Encore and the Encore GX with the 1.3-liter engine also have the option of all-wheel drive, which will lower the fuel economy by a couple of MPGs, but the difference is pretty negligible, especially when getting the capability of an all-wheel drive.

A white 2021 Buick Encore GX is parked on a city street after a 2021 Buick Encore vs 2021 Buick Encore GX comparison.

The Buick Encore GX Is Larger

The big sell for the Buick Encore GX is its size. If the size does matter to you, then obviously, the extended 103.9-inch wheelbase will look more attractive than the 101.2-inch wheelbase from the base Buick Encore. This size difference does translate into a larger interior space and is also obviously represented in the longer exterior body frame of the GX. As noted in vehicle reports, the C-pillar of the GX is longer, and there’s more extension on the D-pillar, along with completely redesigned fascia and more angular curves compared to the original Encore. Hence the translation into an extended length of 175.7-inches for the exterior compared to the Encore’s 169.1-inch frame.

For the interior, this means that you have a total of 50.2 cubic feet of cargo volume in the GX compared to the 48.4 cubic feet of cargo volume in the normal Encore. However, larger isn’t always better, depending on what sort of vehicle you prefer to drive. While both the Buick Encore and Buick Encore GX can seat up to five passengers, take into consideration that more volume means more mass, and moving more mass requires more finesse.

Besides that, it means the longer the vehicle is, the more difficult it is to perform maneuvers such as reversing into a parking space or parallel parking. In short, you lose an ever-so-slight amount of maneuverability with the larger Encore GX in place of having more interior volume. For drivers who prefer the even more compact nature of the original Encore, it’s easy to see why they might prefer the diminutive stature over something larger.

Model Year Changes

Both the 2021 Buick Encore and 2021 Buick Encore GX have undergone some moderate changes when it comes to what they have to offer compared to their previous model year outings. While the Encore GX has typically outshone the Encore in most other categories, when it comes to new features, the GX is actually the one that lags. For the 2021 model year, the Buick Encore GX was gifted with a few notable updates, such as the front and rear fascia being revised on all models save for the Sport Touring Package as well as an exterior molding kit.

The Encore GX also adds standard availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless connectivity and support on all models and trims with no cable requirements whatsoever. The only other major update was SiriusXM Satellite Radio being made standard on all models as well, as opposed to being limited to select upper-end trims for the 2020 outing.

The 2021 Buick Encore has a slightly more unique smorgasbord of changes to embrace. While two of the trims were removed from the lineup compared to 2020, along with the 18-inch machined-faced alloy wheels with argent metallic pockets, General Motors did add two exterior colors. These new colors are Dark Moon Blue Metallic and Cinnabar Metallic to replace Winterberry Red Metallic and Deep Azure Metallic.

There was also the addition of a new safety feature that is now standard across all model trims, which is the forward collision alert system. Additionally, they added the Safety II Package to the lineup, which not only includes the forward collision alert, but also lane departure warnings, front and rear parking assistance, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. So, the Encore is upping the game when it comes to style options and safety features.

The white and black interior is shown in a 2021 Buick Encore.

Gains/Losses vs Pricing

Beyond the size, the biggest difference between the 2021 Buick Encore and the 2021 Buick Encore GX is the price. The Buick Encore’s MSRP starts at $23,200, while the Buick Encore GX MSRP starts at $24,200. The $1,000 price difference compensates with an extra 1.8 cubic feet of cargo/passenger volume if that tickles your fancy. However, there is a bit more to consider than just cargo volume. The fuel economy is obviously better with the 1.3-liter inline 3-cylinder for the Encore GX, but the difference isn’t so much that it blows the Encore away.

Encore or Encore GX: They’re Both Great

It’s quite apparent that the 2021 Buick Encore GX is a vehicle designed for those who enjoy the look, feel, and features of the standard Buick Encore but wanted something slightly more stylish with the body lines and space. A little extra length on the C-pillar doesn’t really make or break the design, but the more aggressively stylish front fascia and angular edges might seem more like the “mature” older sibling compared to the standard Encore. However, as an entry-level subcompact, the Encore certainly seems to hold its own in most respects. An improved powertrain would definitely make it look more appealing in some regard, as well as giving it more of a competitive edge when it comes to the fuel economy, but it seems to proudly wear its classification on its sleeve as a go-to crossover for quick maneuverability and reliable handling.