It’s a two-for-one baby SUV day at the GM Proving Grounds outside of Detroit. Barely an hour ago we reported on the first photos of the new Chevrolet Trax, and now we have its slightly upscale stablemate from Buick pacing the same pavement. This isn’t the first time we’ve caught the new Encore in action, but the photos do give us a better look at the trademark Buick grille beneath the front cover. We see placeholder headlights are still in place, but the higher camera perspective helps us see how the new Encore will set itself apart from the Trax.
Whereas the Trax (pictured above on the left) will borrow heavily from the sharper look of the new Chevrolet Blazer, the Encore (on the right) appears to retain some of its softer style. The up-kink on the rear side glass at the C-pillar is still quite pronounced on the Encore, and the A-pillars have a more rounded look. Aside from the Buick-specific grille, the front fascia and headlight arrangement should differ from the Trax as well.
The Encore will grow slightly in size to give passengers a bit more space. It’s not clear yet what platform it will ride on – the Gamma 2 chassis is what the current model uses and a tweaked version of that setup is the leading candidate for the next-gen model. It’s possible, however, that the Encore and Trax could transition to the VSS-S architecture. In any case, the change will also give the small crossover a slightly larger appearance on the outside as well.
Power will likely continue to come from a small-displacement 1.4-liter turbo four, but something with a bit more bite to better compete with small luxury SUV competition like the Volvo XC40 isn’t out of the question. That would likely take the Encore into the 200-horsepower (149-kilowatt) range, with a six-speed or nine-speed automatic used to distribute the power.
We expect to see the new Encore as a 2020 model, but it could be well into 2019 before we get full disclosure.