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New Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Encore GX Will Carry 3-Cylinder Engines

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2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer
The 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer
Photo: Chevrolet

For the first time in almost 20 years, General Motors will sell vehicles equipped with three-cylinder engines in the United States. 

The 2020 Buick Encore GX and 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer subcompact SUVs will offer a choice between a standard 1.2-liter three-cylinder and an available 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine, both paired with a continuously variable transmission. Models equipped with the 1.3-liter engine and AWD will also get a nine-speed automatic transmission.

According to GM, drivers of these two models can expect to get up to 155 horsepower, 174 lb-ft of torque, and 31 combined mpg.

The Drive notes that both of these engines should achieve better gas mileage and emissions numbers than similar four-cylinder versions. They’ll incorporate technologies like turbocharging, an electric wastegate and water pump, and an active vacuum system to yield adequate power. With one less cylinder, they’ll also shed about 40 pounds.

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2020 Buick Encore GX
The 2020 Buick Encore GX
Photo: Buick

These two three-cylinder engines are likely to be built at the same plant in Mexico that builds the Chevy Equinox and Blazer and the GMC Terrain. Expect the Buick Encore GX to be available in early 2020, with the Chevrolet Trailblazer to follow in the second quarter.

GM hasn’t offered a three-cylinder engine for one of its U.S. vehicles since 2000, when it discontinued that option for the Chevrolet Metro. However, three-cylinder powerplants are fairly common for GM’s foreign-market vehicles. The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu sold in South Korea comes with one that’s quite similar to what the Trailblazer and Encore GX will get.

Three-cylinder models aren’t exactly common in the U.S., but they do exist. Ford offers a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine for its EcoSport subcompact SUV, and BMW-owned Mini also offers three-cylinder models.

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