It’s not unusual for automakers to make multiple automobile out of shared elements. It cuts prices to have frequent operating gear, engines, chassis bits, electronics and extra which might be shared throughout a number of manufacturers. GM has completed it for many years and nonetheless does it right this moment. Witness its newest little cute utes, the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer and 2020 Buick Encore GX. Each SUVs are made off the identical “platform,” which suggests they share engines, transmissions, chassis, suspension and different parts. They differ in the best way they give the impression of being, their possibility packages and the content material and high quality of their interiors, however they’re, basically, the identical automobile beneath.
Each of those well-liked new SUVs arrived in my driveway inside weeks of one another, and I’ve to confess I fairly favored them each. The brand new Chevy Trailblazer is small and funky, nicely made, enjoyable to drive, helpful, spacious, updated on its know-how and is proving to be well-liked with consumers. It slots in size between the Chevy Trax and Equinox, changing into Chevy’s defacto entry-level SUV. Buick’s new Encore GX slots between the smaller Buick Encore (Trax-related) and the mid-size Buick Envision. I favored the Encore GX as nicely, discovering it to be a surprisingly fast given its meagre energy ranking, and a snug, trendy little runabout.
However right here’s the kicker: The as-tested worth for my 2021 Trailblazer Activ AWD trim was $30,580, a hefty sum for a automobile this small and modestly powered, however not out of the realm of what individuals are apparently fortunately paying for such automobiles lately. The 2020 Buick Encore GX Essence Sport Touring AWD trim was basically loaded and $5,000 greater than the Chevy, stickering at $35,720. That’s a hefty bump over the Trailblazer. Which results in the query: With these two automobiles so related in practically each method, is the Buick value such a big premium over the Chevy? Are there sufficient variations between the 2 to justify the worth?
Comparable Driving Expertise however Not Similar
Many elements of each automobiles are certainly indistinguishable from one another, however there are just a few variations between the 2, in accordance with a Buick spokesperson. First some similarities: Each provide a selection of two engines and two transmissions; those I examined had been outfitted with the non-compulsory turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder mated to a nine-speed computerized transmission and sporting all-wheel drive. That brings simply 155 horsepower and 174 pounds-feet of torque to the social gathering, however the turbo helps hold each SUVs comparatively sprightly in around-town driving (however not at increased speeds when it tends to expire of steam on freeway on-ramps and passing maneuvers). The transmission is first rate, and whereas it shifts ceaselessly (it has 9 gears and solely 155 hp to play with), it does a good job of holding the engine within the energy band when known as for. The Chevy is maybe extra enjoyable to drive, nevertheless, because it contains a Sport mode that impacts transmission habits and throttle response, the place the extra sedate Buick doesn’t.
Experience and dealing with are barely completely different between the 2, because the Encore GX options barely completely different suspension tuning, a 1.7-inch-shorter wheelbase and completely different tire decisions than the Trailblazer. Sure, the 2 SUVs do share the identical platform, however the Encore GX is a bit shorter, and that may make a distinction in journey and dealing with.
The Encore GX mannequin I drove featured 18-inch wheels and tires (that are additionally out there on the Trailblazer RS trim), however the Trailblazer check automobile I had featured 17-inchers normal on the Activ trim. The Activ trim can be barely extra off-road tuned, so it did journey a little bit in a different way, with the Chevy barely extra supple as a result of its taller tire sidewalls.
However the Buick was a little bit quieter, due to completely different door seals working along with completely different tires and normal energetic noise cancellation that each automobiles got here outfitted with (however solely Trailblazers with AWD get the noise cancellation as normal). However being a skilled automotive reviewer, I’m ready to select such refined variations. I’d cost that for the typical purchaser, the variations between the Trailblazer and Encore GX’s driving experiences shall be nigh imperceptible.
A Matter of Model
There’s no arguing that the Trailblazer and Encore GX function significantly completely different styling, each of which play to their model’s particular seems. The Chevy adheres to a extra rugged SUV look, with the Activ trim particularly bringing that aesthetic into focus with ruggedized plastic wheel arches. There’s plastic on the surface of the Encore GX as nicely, however the general look is a sleeker, carlike look that matches up nicely with the remainder of the Buick lineup. You wouldn’t essentially make the connection that they’re largely similar beneath.
Inside, the variations needs to be greater than they’re, given the 2 manufacturers’ identities. Styling differs in fact, with the Chevy once more hewing towards its model themes, and the Buick going for a extra upscale look out there in three potential colours to the Chevy’s restrict of two. However materials high quality isn’t appreciably completely different between these two SUVs.
Inside high quality is suitable for a automobile on this class, however with Buick being a extra aspirational premium model, its prime Essence Sport Touring trim needs to be a bit richer than it’s. The variations are usually a bit extra refined and cope with what sorts of apparatus the Encore GX could be had with that the Trailblazer can not: an auto-dimming rear digicam mirror with washer, dual-zone local weather management, actual leather-based seats as a substitute of leatherette, a regular 8-inch multimedia display and 4.2-inch shade gauge cluster versus the Chevy’s normal 7-inch display and three.5-inch cluster, a head-up show, surround-vision digicam and extra.
The Buick will also be had with a bunch of electronics that aren’t featured on the Chevy, like computerized parking help (the Chevy simply has backup sensors), rain-detecting computerized windshield wipers and lane change alert. So the Buick does deliver extra content material in your additional money, it’s not simply all about styling and a barely quieter cabin.
Is the Buick Definitely worth the Additional Cash?
Should you base the choice on the driving expertise, then no, there’s no motive to spend the additional money on the Buick in case you’re searching for a extra athletic, extra luxurious or extra entertaining driving expertise. The Trailblazer and the Encore GX behave so equally in how they transfer that the explanations for selecting the Buick over the Chevy come down to 2: styling and options.
Your choice on seems is, in fact, subjective, however there are options and gear out there on the Buick that you just can’t get on the Chevrolet. Most of it’s comfort content material — bells and whistles we’d name it — because the Chevy is a wonderfully competent and well-equipped little SUV by itself. However if you need extra luxe in your bucks, the Buick affords some neat spiffs.
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