2020 Buick Encore GX To Be Offered With 1.2L, 1.3L Turbo Three-Cylinder Engines

Scheduled to arrive at U.S. dealerships early in 2020, the all-new Encore GX from Buick has a dirty secret up its sleeve. Or make that two dirty secrets because General Motors is expected to offer not one, but a pair of three-cylinder turbocharged engine options.  
2020 Buick Encore GX 12 photos
Photo: Buick
2020 Buick Encore GX (U.S. model)2020 Buick Encore GX (U.S. model)2020 Buick Encore GX (U.S. model)2020 Buick Encore GX (U.S. model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)2020 Buick Encore GX (China model)
When Buick presented the Encore GX in May 2019, the premium-oriented brand didn’t mention a thing about suck-squeeze-bang-blow, not even the number of cylinders. GM Authority dug up the specifications for the small crossover utility vehicle, and surprisingly enough, General Motors decided to go forward with 1.2- and 1.3-liter turbo engines.

Codenamed LIH and L3T, these motors are rated at 137 and 155 horsepower plus 166 and 174 pound-feet of torque. The latter is better because the peak torque is developed at 2,500 instead of 1,500 rpm, but beware of the continuously variable transmission. The CVT is standard in the 1.2 and 1.3, but the larger engine is connected to a nine-speed automatic when the Encore GX is specified with the optional all-wheel drive.

The Hydra-Matic 9Txx series entered the scene in 2016 with the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, and so far, nobody likes the transmission. Not even the Ford Motor Company utilizes it, choosing to go forward with an eight-speed automatic in vehicles such as the Edge.

Over in China, the Encore GX comes exclusively with the 1.3-liter turbo three-cylinder engine, packing 163 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. But on the other hand, the Encore in the United States does alright with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo (codenamed LUV) that develops 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. All things considered, three-cylinder designs are more stressed and less reliable than a four-cylinder.

Slotting between the Encore and Envision as a crossover in the “subcompact plus” segment, the Encore GX will be assembled in South Korea on the VSS-F vehicle architecture. VSS-F is Vehicle Strategy Set – Front in General Motors talk, and the American automaker plans to utilize it in everything from the A- to the E-segment, from the Spark to the Impala.

Three more next-generation platforms are in the pipeline, namely VSS-S for SUVs, VSS-T for trucks, and VSS-R for rear-wheel-drive-based vehicles such as the Camaro and SS.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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