PINEHURST, NC — October 1, 2020 — I am pretty sure that in my mind when the term ‘run about’ comes up, the 2020 Buick Encore GX Essence is what I envision. Remember the old RAV 4’s, like 20 years ago. They were sporting little utility vehicles and lots of people liked them – me being one. That’s what the Buick Encore reminded me of, BUT with a great deal more style and even a touch of elegance. Our car was the Satin Steel Gray color but I really like the Deep Azure Metallic shown herein. If you don’t like those two colors, there are seven more to choose from, including my personal favorite – Chili Red Metallic.
This smaller, but enjoyable, SUV is powered by an Ecotec 1.3L 3-cylinder Turbo engine. Wait! Go back and reread that last sentence. Yes, I said 3-cylinder Turbo engine. Our GX Essence had the more powerful 1.3L engine generating 155 HP, while still getting 32 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg around town, for a 31mpg average. It was an extra cost – $395, but probably worth it. Zippy!
You know me and 4-cylinder engines, but I have to say the 3-cylinder seemed perfectly fitted to this size vehicle. We also had the Continuously Variable speed transmission, and, again, I have to say “I liked it”. Did it ride a tad rough? Well, yes, but only if the road was rough. I actually found it quite quiet (I always wanted to write that), and with the electronic seat adjustment and memory settings for three drivers, once you got your chariot programmed, it was a comfortable driving experience.
Hook up your phone? No problem. Charge your phone? Lay it in the open area in front of the gear shift and charge away. Need to get to an unfamiliar place? I actually began typing address in the navigation window, and it only took a few ‘keys’ for the addresses we were seeking to come up. Very convenient.
The Buick Infotainment System with 8” Diagonal Color Touchscreen was great, and, yes, we had Sirius XM radio. We also had keyless entry, keyless start, and so many of the bells and whistles you find on cars starting at a much higher price tag. The 2020 encore GX Essence weighs in, cost wise, at a base number of $28.5K with all I have mentioned so far, and $28.9 with the 155 hp, 1.3L Turbo engine.
There are plenty of safety features on a base model too – Auto Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, the Rear Vision Camera, Teen Driver set up, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and Intelligent Headlamps.
Heated Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel? Standard.
For $1790 additional dollars, we got the Advanced Technology Package with HD Surround Vision Camera, Heads Up Display, and Adaptive Cruise Control. Adaptive cruise control is an available cruise control system for road vehicles that automatically adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead. As of 2019, it is also called by 20 unique names that describe that basic functionality. This is also known as Dynamic cruise control. What I found interesting in all this is that either or camera or radar can be used for this ‘safe distance’ set up. Wonder if there is a difference in accuracy? The Buick Encore GX Essence uses the camera. Apparently, Navigation is part of the Advanced Technology Package.
Then there is the Convenience Package for $770, which includes Automatic Parking Assist with Braking, the Wireless Charging I mentioned, the Rear Camera with Washer, and Rain Sensing Windshield Wipers.
For an additional $650, we got the Sport Touring Package with Bodyside Moldings and Body Color, Custom Grille, Front and Rear Sport Bumper, and 18” Aluminum High Gloss Wheels,
For $520, we got the Hands Free, Power Lift Gate Package.
And remember the 1.3L engine was an extra $395.
The total for our 2020 Encore GX Essence – FWD was $34,115, which, in my opinion, is not a lot of money for a lot of small SUV sized performance, bells and whistles. Take it away Honey!
One of Johnny’s ongoing jokes is, “We never had a Buick!” It’s to do with a joke he tells often but to be honest, I don’t remember what the joke is. Maybe Johnny should tell you…[Billy Crystal skit, a long time ago, about old people. Please continue]
In any event, my family has owned Buicks for three generations. I guess the best way I can describe my reaction to this car is by telling a story I saw on the original British series, All Creatures Great and Small, with the late, great Robert Hardy as veterinarian Siegfried Farnon.
It’s Christmas and Siegfried is invited, as he is every Christmas, to take the first taste of the Christmas cake prepared for months in advance by the wife of this particular sheep farmer. Siegfried drives to the remote farm and gathered around the dining table, wearing their Sunday best, is the farmer’s family, young and old. With Siegfried is his young new assistant, James Herriott. While Siegfried is chatting merrily with the family, the farmer’s wife takes James aside and shows him her pantry, where not one but two cakes are sitting on the shelf.
“You see, Mr. Herriott,” every year Mr. Farnon comes to taste my Christmas cake and give his opinion. But this year, he’s in for a surprise! I’m serving my sister’s cake instead. She always says hers is better—now we’ll know for sure!”
“Are you going to tell Mr. Farnon beforehand?” James says, squirming.
“Why, no!” the farmer’s wife replied. That would spoil everything! He has to say so himself.
With that, James took his seat at the table and, with great ceremony, the farmer’s wife placed the cake in front of the unsuspecting Siegfried. She gingerly cut the first slice, put it on a cake plate from her best China service, and set it before him. Everyone sat in silence as, first, Siegfried cleared his palette with a sip of Sherry, cut a bite from the cake, held it up to the light, and carefully put it into his mouth. Time seemingly froze as he savored the bite, then swallowed. It was several moments more before he spoke.
“Mrs. Dale,” he addressed the farmer’s wife, who stood by his side with eyes wide open, awaiting his verdict. “This is a wonderful cake, a marvelous cake…but forgive me, my dear, it is not quite up to your usual standard.”
With that, the farmer’s wife gave off a squeal of delight and replied, “Bless the man!” And with that, it was clear that her cake, and not her sister’s, was the finest Christmas cake of all.
The point of my story is this: Buick, this is a wonderful car, it is a marvelous car…but something about the handling, the road noise, the design, perhaps, and the expectation I have always had for a Buick is somehow, well, not up to your usual standard. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I can tell you this: I still love a Buick!
Christmas Cake and a Buick – only you, Sweetheart, only you. What is the name of this column? Oh, that’s right.
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Buick Dealerships Serving Pinehurst, NC
Address: 10722 US Highway 15 501, Southern Pines, NC 28387, United States
Phone: +1 910 692 2002
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Buick Dealerships Serving Westchester County