|48.4||Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||45.2|
|16||Fuel Tank Capacity (gal)||15.5|
|6-Speed Automatic||Transmission||6-Speed Automatic|
While the subcompact SUV market segment is becoming increasingly crowded, most of the options are economy vehicles with limited features. But for drivers seeking a higher level of comfort without moving to a larger vehicle, there are a handful of choices. And perhaps two of the best of these to compare are the 2020 Buick Encore vs 2020 Mazda CX-30. Both of these subcompact SUVs are a cut above most of the competition, offering upscale styling as well as a wider array of luxury features. However, while both of these vehicles occupy a similar market niche, they are quite different designs.
The 2020 Buick Encore aims for maximum comfort and versatility, while the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a sportier vehicle that sacrifices a number of luxury features in its lower trims. And getting a fully equipped top trim 2020 Mazda CX-30 will cost significantly more than a 2020 Buick Encore with similar features. So while the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is an excellent addition to the subcompact SUV market and outperforms most of its competition in terms of handling and acceleration, most buyers that are looking for a small semi-luxury vehicle will probably be happier with the 2020 Buick Encore. And this will become evident with this full, in-depth comparison.
While the comparison between the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Mazda CX-30 does overwhelmingly favor the Buick with regards to comfort and utility, things are closer when it comes to engineering and technology. However, the technical superiority of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 in these areas is not as clear cut as a glance at the paper specifications might indicate.
When it comes to power, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is equipped with a 2.5L engine producing 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, while the 2020 Buick Encore has a smaller 1.4L turbocharged engine generating 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. On the surface, the Mazda is the clear winner, but this would fail to take into account the fact that a turbocharged engine produces its power at a much lower rpm range.
In the case of these two SUVs, the 2020 Buick Encore hits its peak torque at just 1850 rpm while the 2020 Mazda CX-30 does not reach its optimum figure until 4000 rpm. This means that the engine in the 2020 Buick Encore is ready to go almost the instant that the accelerator is depressed, while the engine in the 2020 Mazda CX-30 will take a few seconds to wind up to speed. And when merging into traffic or passing on a narrow road, those few seconds can make a difference. So, in the long run, the Buick Encore is actually the better performer.
On the outside, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is noticeably longer and lower than the 2020 Buick Encore. And while for some types of vehicles, this would be an advantage, and it doubtlessly plays a role in the Mazda’s good handling, when it comes to subcompact SUVs, these attributes are less than ideal. The taller profile of the 2020 Buick Encore results in a vehicle that provides a more commanding view of the road while being easier to enter and exit. Further, its shorter length makes the 2020 Buick Encore a bit easier to maneuver through crowded areas or squeeze into tight parking places.
The larger overall size of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 also does not translate into any more interior space. While its extra length does give it around half an inch more second-row legroom, the difference between 36.3 inches and 35.8 inches is marginal, and neither vehicle has a back seat that can be described as anything more than adequate. However, the extra height of the 2020 Buick Encore gives it an inch and a half more front-seat headroom, which is a meaningful improvement for taller drivers.
When it comes to cargo volume, the two SUVs are neck and neck. While neither of them will be capable of moving large objects such as furniture or building supplies, that is not the purpose of a subcompact SUV, and they both offer significantly more cargo space than many of their competitors. The 2020 Mazda CX-30 has a small advantage when its rear seats are upright, with 20.2 cu.ft. of cargo space against 18.8 cu.ft. for the 2020 Buick Encore.
However, the tables are turned when the rear seats are folded down, as the 2020 Buick Encore can fit up to 48.4 cu.ft. of cargo while the 2020 Mazda CX-30 tops out at 45.2 cu.ft. In practical terms, that is about the difference between two pieces of carry on luggage or four large grocery bags. This additional cargo space helps make the 2020 Buick Encore a much more versatile vehicle that can better accommodate the needs of daily life.
While both the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Mazda CX-30 are among the more feature-rich options in the world of subcompact SUVs, they do not offer the same set of features. While the 2020 Mazda CX-30 boasts several mechanical options that enhance its sporty nature, the 2020 Buick Encore focuses on more practical features that make it a more comfortable and convenient ride. And it is difficult to say that Buick did not make the better decision here. During the daily commute or while running errands, that performance edge goes mostly unnoticed while the greater comfort of the 2020 Buick Encore is always present.
Buick uses an intuitive touch screen interface for its software. At the same time, the Mazda infotainment system falls entirely behind the times by using a non-touchscreen controlled by rotary dial near the gear shifter. And although both infotainment systems support smartphone integration through both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as on the go entertainment with SiriusXM satellite radio, only the 2020 Buick Encore comes with a 4G LTE wireless hotspot that can provide internet access for up to seven devices simultaneously. This alone makes the Encore shine a little brighter.
Both SUVs sport a clean, modern interior design. And while their choice of materials may not entirely be up to true luxury car standards, it is a cut above most of their competitors. However, the 2020 Buick Encore has many subtle improvements that combine to give it a clear edge in comfort over the 2020 Mazda CX-30.
For instance, the 2020 Buick Encore uses solar-absorbing acoustic glass for its windshield, cutting down on outside heat and road noise inside the cabin. Unwanted cabin noise is then further reduced by Buick’s signature QuiteTuning and active noise cancellation system. While every car manufacturer takes steps to produce a quieter vehicle, Buick goes considerably further than normal with advanced technologies such as liquid sound deadener, careful intake, and exhaust tuning, and even heat-activated baffles designed to alter their shape with temperature changes. Altogether, this makes Buick vehicles some of the quietest on the road.
The 2020 Buick Encore also uses more obvious features to improve its comfort. For example, every trim comes standard with a power-adjustable driver’s seat while the two lower trims of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 make do with manually adjustable front seats. Indeed, the lowest trim of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 even lacks a leather-wrapped steering wheel, undermining its pretensions of luxury, and only the 2020 Buick Encore is available with a factory remote start system.
But the battle of luxury features is not entirely one-sided, and the higher trims of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 do offer some features, such as a dual-zone climate control system and heated seats, that are surprisingly missing on the 2020 Buick Encore. So, overall, the winner of this area of the competition is dependent on what trim you are looking to purchase.