Underrated Small Crossover For Under $30,000

The sub-compact crossover segment is super popular for buyers who want something that’s not too big but that also rides a little higher. There are a ton of options to choose from, but one offering from General Motors is often lost in the shuffle — and it might provide the best car for your dollar.

Last year, my neighbor’s 2015-ish Ford Escape started to experience a cascade of expensive mechanical issues, and it was time for her to move on to something newer. I gave her a few recommendations, and then one day she came home in a brand new Buick Encore GX. There is a GM/Buick dealer that is almost walking distance from my neighborhood. I was pretty impressed with how spacious and comfortable it was on the inside despite being smaller than the Escape. Ever since then, I’ve been putting the Encore GX on my list of recommended cars for folks shopping in this segment.

Recently, I helped two clients who were assisting their kids with car purchases. The requirements were for a small, reliable car loaded with safety tech and some warranty balance in a budget range between $20,000 to $25,000. Of course, there were the usual choices from Honda, Subaru, and Mazda, but due to the slim depreciation curve of these Japanese models, it was hard to find cars with much warranty balance, especially on the lower end of that price point. In both cases I recommended the Encore GX knowing full well that a college-aged driver probably isn’t going to be too jazzed about driving a Buick. To my surprise, the Buick ended up being the favorite car amongst the list, and we found some pretty excellent deals for both clients.

The Encore GX was introduced in 2020 as an upgrade of sorts to the standard Encore model, though both were sold side-by-side for a few years. Under the hood is a 1.3-liter turbo-four that makes 155 hp. It’s not fast, but most buyers in this segment aren’t looking for hot hatches. It’s available in both front and all-wheel-drive. The Encore GX shares components with its Chevrolet stablemates, but buyers get a nice upgrade on the interior materials.

If you are shopping closer to the $25,000 mark, be sure to check out the Essence trims, as they tend to be the most loaded with features. You can get a Buick Certified model that gets you a one-year/12,000-mile extension on the factory bumper-to-bumper coverage and a total of six years/100,000 miles on the powertrain.

Here is a 2021 example with fewer than 11,000 miles equipped with the Advanced Tech package for under $25,000.

Image: Autotrader.com

The original MSRP on this car was $34,545.

Image for article titled The Buick Encore GX Might Be The Most Underrated Small Crossover For Under $30,000

Screenshot: GM

If you don’t need something super fancy and have a more modest budget, there are still a ton of low-mile examples under the $20,000 mark.

Image for article titled The Buick Encore GX Might Be The Most Underrated Small Crossover For Under $30,000

Screenshot: Autotrader.com

On the other hand, if you are shopping in new car territory and are looking at high-spec Crosstrecks and HR-Vs, there are brand new and fully loaded Encore GX Avenir trims advertised well under their MSRP.

Image for article titled The Buick Encore GX Might Be The Most Underrated Small Crossover For Under $30,000

Screenshot: Autotrader.com

While the Encore GX may not be the enthusiast choice, it’s a great option for anyone looking to buy a “nice car” at a reasonable price point.


Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com

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