Buick announces its version of the Chevrolet Trailblazer
Behold the 2020 Buick Encore GX, announced this morning in a 219-word, virtually fact-free press release that declares it will slot into the brand’s lineup between the entry-level Encore and the Envision in terms of price, performance, prestige, and packaging. In follow-up grilling, we were told the Encore GX will not share either of those sister-models’ platforms but instead utilize a platform that is “new to Buick.” We therefore presume that this is Buick getting out in front of Chevy in officially announcing its version of the forthcoming Chevrolet Trailblazer we forecast back in January.
Buick is withholding further information on dimensions, pricing, and powertrain options until closer to the launch in early 2020. Re-purposing the Encore name will reduce the challenge facing the marketing department, as the current Encore has been accounting for north of 40 percent of Buick sales since 2017, and it already leads the brand in customer loyalty and bringing new customers to the brand. The Buick reps we grilled assured us this vehicle is unrelated to the new Encore just released in China, and that all North American Encore GX models will be assembled at the GM Korea plant in Bupyeong—home of the (Gamma II-platform) Encore/Chevy Trax/Opel Mokka SUVs. The plant already builds pickups, vans, and cars, so it can clearly handle multiple platforms and will be able to continue supplying the recently face-lifted Encore for “the foreseeable future.”
The single dimensional reference provided in the one-page release was that the cargo space would be “almost 5 cubic feet larger than the Encore and about 3 cubic feet smaller than the Envision.” Without specifying whether those figures were for seats-up or seats-down volume, it suggests around 24 cubic feet with the seats up and/or about 54 cubes with them down.
Gazing into our own crystal ball, we expect the flagship powertrain to be a variant of GM’s increasingly ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbo-four bolted to a nine-speed automatic. Tuning it to Cadillac XT4 specs (237 hp/258 lb-ft of torque) should keep performance a beat slower than that of the pricier Envision.
Standard equipment will include a full suite of driver-assist features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian sensing, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, and even a fancy rear camera mirror and high definition surround vision camera system. Obviously the single photo we have to work with indicates a panoramic sunroof will also be offered. Pricing, we’re promised, will make all of this seem like a great value. We eagerly await the opportunity to share more info on this interesting new entrant in a crowding market.