|138||Max Horsepower (hp)||122|
|148||Max Torque (lb-ft)||114|
|48.4||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||32.3|
The subcompact SUV is a relatively new and increasingly crowded market segment. These small vehicles aim to offer the best features of both SUVs and cars, combining the performance, high seating position, and plenty of cargo space found in an SUV with the compact dimensions and excellent fuel economy of a car. However, there are many different approaches to this class of vehicles, and not all of them are equally successful. This is particularly true when comparing the 2020 Buick Encore vs 2020 Nissan Kicks.
Although both of these vehicles are sold as subcompact SUVs, Buick effectively shrank an SUV while Nissan grew a hatchback car. This makes the 2020 Nissan Kicks an extremely affordable and efficient vehicle, but it lacks almost all of the capabilities of a true SUV. In contrast, the 2020 Buick Encore will cost a bit more both upfront and to operate, but that extra money provides a far more capable vehicle with significantly more engine power, an all-wheel drive system, and vastly more cargo space. But today, we are going to make a more in-depth comparison to show all of the significant differences that make the Buick best-in-class.
Mechanically there is little comparison between the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Nissan Kicks. The 2020 Buick Encore is a substantially more powerful and more capable vehicle by nearly every metric, and the only advantage that the 2020 Nissan Kicks offers is its slightly superior fuel economy.
Beginning with the engine, all trims of the 2020 Nissan Kicks come with a 1.6L four-cylinder that produces 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. And although the car’s surprisingly light weight means that this low output is not terribly underpowered, this engine is still among the least powerful in the segment. In contrast, the 2020 Buick Encore comes with a turbocharged 1.4L engine generating 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. While this is not going to be winning any speed records, it is still a comfortable amount of power that is in line with the other subcompact SUVs on the market.
The second significant difference between these two vehicles is their transmissions. Like nearly every Nissan product, the 2020 Nissan Kicks uses a continuously variable transmission. This technology can help with fuel economy, but it comes at the cost of a less engaging driving experience. The 2020 Buick Encore, on the other hand, employs a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.
But perhaps the most significant and important difference between the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Nissan Kicks is that the Nissan is not available with all-wheel drive. With only front-wheel drive, the 2020 Nissan Kicks is a far less capable vehicle in bad weather or on unimproved surfaces. In fact, it is reasonably accurate to say that because, due to this missing feature, the 2020 Nissan Kicks is more of a tall hatchback while the 2020 Buick Encore is a true mini SUV.
However, the much lighter weight, significantly less powerful engine, and front-wheel drive only powertrain does make the 2020 Nissan Kicks the more efficient vehicle. With a combined fuel economy rating of 33 miles per gallon, it is comparable to the average compact hatchback cars on the road. The 2020 Buick Encore, though, has the fuel economy of a small SUV and is rated for 27 miles per gallon combined. But while this does mean that the 2020 Buick Encore will cost more to operate than a 2020 Nissan Kicks, that additional cost is the direct result of having vastly superior capabilities rather than from inefficient engineering.
On the outside, the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Nissan Kicks are relatively similar in size. However, the interior dimensions of these two vehicles have little in common. And the interior dimensions of a vehicle can be very important. Additionally, the interior features are different between these two vehicles, making the end-all decision easier.
In terms of headroom, legroom, and cargo room, the 2020 Buick Encore is far in the lead. While the front seats in both SUVs offer plenty of space for a comfortable ride, the rear seats in the 2020 Nissan Kicks are rather cramped with just 33.2 inches of legroom. In comparison, the 2020 Buick Encore offers 35.75 inches of rear-seat legroom and also has an extra quarter-inch of headroom. While no subcompact SUV is intended to carry passengers in its back seat routinely, if additional passenger space is important, then the 2020 Buick Encore is the clear winner.
Perhaps more importantly, the 2020 Buick Encore also has significantly more cargo space, which is a key element in why many drivers prefer SUVs to cars. With its rear seats folded down, the 2020 Buick Encore can fit up to 48.4 cu.ft. of cargo space while the 2020 Nissan Kicks tops out at just 32.3 cu.ft. of cargo space. With almost exactly 50 percent more cargo space, the 2020 Buick Encore is a far more versatile vehicle that can handle nearly any daily task from visiting a hardware store to picking up furniture.
But the 2020 Buick Encore does not only offer greater interior space than the 2020 Nissan Kicks, but it also provides a more comfortable and feature-rich interior. From major options down to material quality, the 2020 Buick Encore lives up to the Buick name by delivering a premium driving experience.
The most significant difference in features between the two SUVs is that the 2020 Buick Encore is available with a multiposition power moonroof with a power sunshade while the 2020 Nissan Kicks does not have any moonroof options. Both trims of the 2020 Buick Encore also come standard with a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat while all three trims of the 2020 Nissan Kicks only have manually adjustable seats. These major items give the Buick SUV a much more comfortable feel than the economy focused Nissan car. However, the 2020 Buick Encore also includes smaller touches such as a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and one-touch power windows for both the front and back seats, giving it an authentic premium feel.
The infotainment system for the 2020 Buick Encore is built around an 8-inch central touch screen, while the 2020 Nissan Kicks has a smaller 7-inch display. And while every 2020 Buick Encore comes standard with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone integration as well as SiriusXM satellite radio for endless entertainment on the go, these features are not available on the base trim of the 2020 Nissan Kicks.
Further, the 2020 Buick Encore comes with a 4G LTE wireless hotspot for internet access no matter where you are. However, Nissan does have a small edge when it comes to audio quality. While both SUVs have a standard six-speaker sound system, the top trim of the 2020 Nissan Kicks has the option for an improved eight-speaker Bose premium sound set up. Although, when not listening to music or the radio, the 2020 Buick Encore does have a quieter cabin thanks to its standard active noise cancellation system.
For advanced driver assistance technologies, the 2020 Buick Encore is actually fairly limited. Although side blind-zone and rear cross-traffic alerts are available, they only come as part of a package on the top trim. In comparison, the 2020 Nissan Kicks comes standard with these technologies as well as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.
But while the 2020 Nissan Kicks may have more on-board safety technologies, the 2020 Buick Encore has OnStar and Buick Connected Services. With OnStar, drivers have around the clock access to emergency services with the push of a button, and the vehicle will even automatically summon help in the event of an accident. And should the vehicle be stolen, OnStar can track it down so that it can be recovered. But while on-board technologies and off-board connectivity each have their benefits when it comes to safety, it is difficult to say that one approach is decidedly superior to the other.