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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A gray 2021 Buick Encore GX is parked on a cobblestone street.

Can Buick’s Urban Vehicles Handle More Off-Road Driving?

Just about every existing and upcoming Buick vehicle is some variation on the SUV but with Buick’s signature upscale looks and suave interiors. There’s no denying their appeal; just about every Buick dealership looks like a jeweler’s case of glimmering, refined automotive technology. They are the industry’s face of sophisticated, urban driving at a surprisingly affordable price, but some have questioned Buick’s versatility. With such a limited range of body styles, can Buick actually do it all?

Performance/sports car drivers can, unfortunately, rule out the Buick brand for now. While some models are certainly capable of holding their own, they don’t offer ultra-speedy V-8s that can accelerate with the best of them. However, you may be surprised to learn that Buick’s former offerings, like the 1986 Buick Regal, were some of the best performance vehicles of their time – their discontinuance being something of a mystery.

But what about off-road drivers? Do you have to resort to down-and-dirty brands like Jeep or too-big-to-fail pickups from the likes of Ram if you want to have a little fun in the mud? Actually, Buick is willing to roll up its starched sleeves from time to time and play with the off-roaders, too. Take, for instance, the 2021 Buick Encore GX Sport Touring. This is, surprisingly, one of the best off-road offerings from drivers who want a balance of city and trail-trawler driving at an excellent value.

Multiple Encore Offerings

The base 2021 Buick Encore is a 5-person SUV, a compact product that’s the very smallest in the Buick lineup. Its price reflects its size, too. A new 2021 Encore’s base MSRP of $23,200 rivals the price of used vehicles, even by other American-made brands. It’s been well-received for its spacious, comfortable interior and excellent built-in technology like its infotainment system – as well as other staples consumers have come to expect from the Buick brand.

When it comes to driving performance, the Encore is quite a standout in the SUV world. The 2021 Buick Encore has a nimble and reliable 4-cylinder engine, and driving tests have noted its precise steering with excellent feedback. Its finely tuned suspension absorbs impact for a comfortable, leisurely ride. However, it may not offer the off-road power that adventurous drivers crave, which may be the expected result when you explore the Buick lineup. That being said, it’s an excellent low-cost vehicle for everyday commutes.

In the hunt for a Buick that succeeds off-road, we recommend that you consider the 2021 Encore GX Sport Touring. Not just a souped-up Encore, this improved and adventure-ready vehicle is engineered to do it all. Sure, it’s larger than the standard 2021 Encore, but it also comes at a shockingly low price of $25,795. Now here’s what you need to know about the 2021 Encore GX Sport Touring.

A black 2021 Buick Encore is parked on a hill overlooking mountains after leaving a Buick dealership.

Encore GX Sport Touring

An athletic but luxurious answer to calls for diversity in the Buick lineup, the 2021 Encore GX Sport Touring has enough features to live up to its lengthy name. A stylish and more sporty upgrade to the Encore GX edition; it combines smart technology with excellent engineering for an SUV that’s ready for anything. Start with its outstanding on-road performance, the heart of which is a surprisingly agile and speedy 1.3-liter turbo engine. Available all-wheel drive and 9-speed automatic transmission combine for excellent handling and a vehicle that’s overall fun to drive.

The latest Encore GX is equipped with outstanding tech features, like an infotainment device with Amazon Alexa voice control, turn-by-turn navigation, wireless charging, and a rear camera mirror that allows you to toggle between a natural mirror view or a real-time display of your vehicle’s posterior surroundings. A built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and infotainment Marketplace app keep you connected to work and lifestyle demands on the go, while the driver information center is a futuristic display of vehicle status, your driving information, and even other details like vehicle follow distance. You can scroll through information screens at your own whim. Remote vehicle control features and a host of smart safety technology round out the 2021 Encore GX and demonstrate Buick’s commitment to luxurious drives at a discount.

Where Potential Lies

How does this vehicle fare off-road, though? When it comes to adventurous drives, the 2021 Buick Encore GX Sport Touring has a few perks on its side. First and foremost, there’s the available all-wheel drive, which uses intelligent sensing technology to monitor all four wheels of your vehicle, balancing power output to keep a steady position on the ground. Should your Buick sense uneven or slippery terrain, it will automatically react to any imbalance by retransferring power between the wheels. No need to adjust on your own; Buick’s smart all-wheel drive has some seriously focused technology at its core.

The Encore GX Sport Touring also has advanced Stabilitrak technology, which is an ultra-traction feature that kicks in when you need it most. If your vehicle senses a loss of traction, Stabilitrak automatically works to increase traction and steady your course. Stabilitrak is useful on wet, icy, muddy, or unpaved terrain.

These features are available for other 2021 Buick Encore GX models, too. However, when you compare the Sport Touring edition to all other Buick SUVs, this upgraded build really looks the part of an off-roader. Its high-gloss grille with a more aggressive flared look, black-and-red inserts all over, more dramatic rails, and streamlined design are far more athletic than anything you might expect from the usually buttoned-up look of the Buick brand.

Another surprising departure from Buick’s usual offerings, the 2021 Encore GX Sport Touring offers compatibility with large outdoor sports equipment. Securely travel with bicycles, kayaks, snowboards, paddle boats, and more thanks to its new, tough, integrated roof rails. Campers, backpackers, and survivalists alike would appreciate this vehicle’s 50.2 cubic feet of interior cargo space as well. Unlike other Encores, this vehicle is the ultimate companion for venturing off the beaten path.

A couple is unloading kayaks off of a blue 2021 Buick Encore GX that is parked in front of a lake.

Our Verdict

Ultimately, the Buick Encore is – like the rest of the Buick lineup – designed for refined, near-luxury driving at surprisingly low prices. However, when it comes to off-road, adventurous driving, the 2021 Buick Encore GX Sport Touring is your best bet in the lineup. Sure, there may be more hardy off-roaders that can rock crawl and trawl through outrageous conditions, but brand-loyal Buick drivers may appreciate this offering for its ability to go where no Buick has gone before.

What’s more impressive than the 2021 GX Sport Touring itself, though, is Buick’s clear commitment to giving drivers what they want. Buick has long been one of the top names in SUVs and crossover vehicles, all of which are luxurious, safe, and full of impressive technology. But those who may reduce some of Buick’s most popular offerings, the Encore, Envision, and Enclave, as the same vehicle in different sizes may be surprised to learn that the GX Sport Touring caters to a more adventurous segment of their customer base. Buick has its ear to the public and may very well expand its lineup’s possibilities to reflect a variety of interests.

Which begs the question: what other surprises are out there? Those who prioritize safety may be impressed that the Buick Envision is consistently a top safety pick. Drivers who crave modern amenities may appreciate the 2021 Enclave Avenir’s suite of smart tech. Its seriously advanced, continuously variable real-time damping suspension offers one of the smoothest rides out there, too. Longtime Buick enthusiasts may appreciate that this auto brand is expanding its talents year by year, and those initially put off their perceived limitations should prepare themselves to be proven wrong before they know it.

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