Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Cars to flat tow: Buick Encore GX AWD review

By Nanci Dixon
Last week I wrote that I am still looking for a tow car to “Wow!” me. If you’ve been following along, you know my requirements and what I’m looking for. This week, I decided to take a look at the Buick Encore GX AWD.

First, I made a mistake and thought one Buick Encore was the same as any other Buick Encore, and so test drove the Buick Encore. Whoops, my bad. That one is not flat towable. The 2020 Buick Encore GX AWD is entirely separate from the original Encore. Glad I didn’t fall in love. But I actually didn’t like that Encore. It was smaller than I wanted, didn’t have many bells and whistles, and the ride was rough. It was zippy though. No issues up the on-ramp or merging on the interstate.

Encore with Kayak
2020 Buick Encore GX

The Buick Encore GX AWD is flat towable. It must be an all-wheel-drive (AWD), not a front-wheel-drive (FWD), vehicle to be flat towable. Page 375 of the owner’s manual confirms that, and gives seven easy steps to flat tow behind an RV. Great! After following the steps to put the car in neutral, the only other thing to do is disconnect the negative battery cable and insulate the cable. I am thinking that there must be a switch that would do the same disconnect…

The AWD Encore has two engines available. The standard engine is a 1.2L turbocharged three-cylinder, providing 137 hp. The larger AWD 1.3L turbo comes in at 155 hp @ 5600 rpm. It goes from 0 to 60 in 9.4 seconds and should zip up any interstate on-ramp. That is one of my criteria, along with good passing ability. Curb weight is 4,409 pounds.

I did test drive the Chevrolet Trailblazer and was disappointed in the power and shifting on the 1.2L engine. The Chevrolet Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX both come standard with the 1.2L 3-cylinder engine. There is an optional 1.3L turbo available on the Buick Encore GX and that should have more power.

The Encore GX AWD starts at $27,195 MSRP; but after adding the trim level and all the options I could possibly want, it came in at $34,690 MSRP. Gas mileage comes in at 26 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The options included GPS, sunroof (another must for me), adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, collision alert, following distance indicator, surround vision, rear camera mirror, rear camera mirror washer, automatic Rainsense™ wipers, body-colored rocker panels, sport numbers, power lift gate, lane detection – and, yes, it parks itself!

Buick Encore GX sun roof

I actually like a boxier, more unique look than the Encore, but I’m willing to make some compromises. I do like the interior though. I used the build-it tool on the website and was actually getting pretty excited about it until I found that not one vehicle with my choices exists in the United States. I did find one that has 12 of my 18 choices and is only 500 miles away, though…

Buick Encore GX interior

Guess I won’t be test driving that one anytime soon. Actually, being in Arizona with the most positive COVID cases in the world, I will wait for a vaccine or numbers to go down dramatically before I test drive another car. My goal for a new car is my birthday in March, but I am pretty picky…

Update: I just learned about a current recall on some Buick Encore GX vehicles. You can read about it here.

Does anyone flat tow the Buick Encore GX AWD? If so, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Jacques (@guest_250610)
3 months ago

I just got a base plate installed on my Buick Encore Gx I towed it last week for more than 1200 kilometers
behind my class a motorhome
Went very well

ursula thompson (@guest_139803)
2 years ago

I am also looking for a small SUV that can be flat towed. We have a gas A RV and don’t want to keep driving the RV and the car separately. Drove a 2019 Buick Envision Premium and loved all the features, pick-up, etc .Less than 17,000 mi! Expensive, > $31,000.
Looking now at the Encore. Not sure my 6ft 2 husband would comfortably fit since this will be ‘his’ car. Saw a 2015 today, but it wasn’t flat towable.

Curious to hear also what others are flat towing.

Bernd Neumann (@guest_127892)
2 years ago

Lots of erroneous silly statements here …. Encore GX is not at all hard to place in dinghy tow mode …. it’s made in South Korea, not China.
Wish people would verify before stating misleading or sometimes even biased opinions.

Bernd Neumann (@guest_127897)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernd Neumann

Also want to add Buick Encore GX is a great little SUV. My previous comments on recently purchased 2021 Essence model somehow did not show up here.
It has lots of convenience & safety options, easy to place in dinghy mode, after you get clarification about operating manual instructions. Lots of pep with it’s turbo 1.3 L engine. Avoided OnStar, Extended warranty, Sirius …. all way too expensive & unnecessary. Can simply hook up smart phone map apps to car touch dash display or use Garmin. Good cameras, alerts & comfort.

Bernd Neumann (@guest_127899)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernd Neumann

Will be installing baseplate, towing accessories in a few weeks. Get a separate battery disconnect to avoid undoing the negative cable when dinghy towing.

Kelvin Roots (@guest_118861)
2 years ago

Just bought the Encore AWD. Transmission won’t go into neutral following the procedures in the Owner’s Manual for flat towing. Dealer trying to get GM/Buick involved, but it’s slow going. I would not recommend this car.

Daniel Champagne (@guest_125504)
2 years ago
Reply to  Kelvin Roots

Hi Kelvin. Just had the base plate installed on my Buick Encore GX 2020. Did you get an answer about the steps? Is there an alternative to disconnecting the battery? Also, it will not go on neutral if the car is not started. Any comments from Buick on that?

Bill (@guest_157746)
1 year ago
Reply to  Kelvin Roots

Here’s what you need to do. Hold start button with foot off brake and what for whole display to light up and shift in neutral and press start button momentarily with foot off brake and lights will go off.

Garry (@guest_189060)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill

How about the chime rings for more than 30 seconds like the owners manual says.

Ed K (@guest_109647)
2 years ago

I found out the only way to get what I want is to custom order it. I have only bought two cars off the lot in the last 50 years and that was because the wife was impatient and though the car was ok, we wish we had waited on exactly what we wanted.

DEL (@guest_109624)
2 years ago

Buick encore GX all wheel drive, another Chinese product if I’m not mistaken.

TimL (@guest_110054)
2 years ago
Reply to  DEL

The GX for 2020 sold in the USA is made in China.

TODD HAWK (@guest_109513)
2 years ago

Jeeps and buicks, why not a Cadillac v8, none of vehicles posted have any kind of reliability. Sounds like this guy is a brochure reader. Your a writer not a mechanic quit giving advice on cars!

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  TODD HAWK

Wow, Todd. You’re very outspoken, aren’t you? (Trying to be civil here.) Nanci writes about what she finds when she researches a product from several sources, including test-driving some of the vehicles. So I think she is voicing her opinion based on what she finds and asking for advice and input from our readers. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, as we all are, but please quit telling our writer(s) how to write. Just sayin’. 🙄 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Gary (@guest_109826)
2 years ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Well, she didn’t drive the Encore GX, she got the engine availability wrong on the Chevy.
Sorry, but this is just a search the internet car review. I’ll stick to my Car & Driver mag.
If you read the manual, there are really only 3 steps to ready it of towing.
Put it in ACC, tranny in neutral, and disconnect the battery. The rest are a given, i.e. hook it up to the towbar.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary
RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary

Thanks, Gary. Please read Nanci’s reply to Todd Hawk. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Stephen C (@guest_109479)
2 years ago

I’m late to this conversation, but the only tow I’ve ever had, and I’m on my second one, is a Jeep. If you haven’t considered it, do so. Push one button and you’re ready to tow for as long as you want to drive. No stopping needed.. I’ve gone two days straight without unhooking. When destination is reached, disconnect and push the button again. It’s that simple. Jeep has two transmission packages with this feature.

Don (@guest_109456)
2 years ago

“Only” 7 steps and then disconnect the battery!? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is WAY too much hassle to take every time you hook up or disconnect a toad. Find something that’s FAR easier to tow, is my advice.

Bob P (@guest_109424)
2 years ago

Isn’t that the Chinese Buick?

ron (@guest_109459)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob P

Does not make much difference, because there is not a single vehicle made in the USA.

Gary (@guest_109812)
2 years ago
Reply to  ron

Corvette says hello…

DJ Knapp (@guest_259113)
26 days ago
Reply to  Gary

I have seen many Corvettes being flat towed! NOT

Keith (@guest_113613)
2 years ago
Reply to  ron

Jeep Wrangler says “Hello from Toledo Ohio USA”

Tom (@guest_109520)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob P

Yes, Chinese Buick, built for the Chinese market. Imported with little or no U.S. content.

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