A white 2021 Buick Encore GX is parked outside of a shop after winning a 2021 Buick Encore GX vs 2021 Volvo XC40 comparison.

Checking in on the New Kids: The Buick Encore GX vs Volvo XC40

It is interesting to compare the 2021 Buick Encore GX vs 2021 Volvo XC40 because they are both relative newcomers to the crossover SUV scene, and are among a new batch of premium subcompact SUVs. The Encore GX (not to be confused with the older Buick Encore, which is its own entity) hit the streets for the first time with the 2020 model year. The Volvo XC40 was manufactured abroad starting in November 2017 but made its North American debut for 2019. Compared to the Jeeps and Chevys that have been on and off roads for decades, that makes these two practically newborns.

Still, there’s a certain amount of quality and refinement that is expected of premium manufacturers such as Buick and Volvo. Each name carries with it a reputation for subdued luxury, admirable performance, and everyday innovation that makes them accessible and sought after by all types of drivers. So how does the Buick Encore GX, now in its sophomore year, stack up compared to the Volvo XC40? Let’s take a look at the two side-by-side to see which features and options are most appealing to you.

Power and Performance: 2021 Buick Encore GX vs 2021 Volvo XC40

A crossover SUV needs to have enough power to match its presence. Both the 2021 Buick Encore GX and the 2021 Volvo XC40 are well-built, attractive vehicles that offer plenty of room for passengers and cargo.

Under the hood of the 2021 Buick Encore GX is a standard 1.2L turbocharged inline-3 engine that provides a bright and steady 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Its modest size allows for good fuel economy ratings of 28 miles per gallon while traveling the city streets and 31 miles per gallon when cruising on the highway. This engine is offered as front-wheel drive only and is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The optional 1.3L turbocharged inline-3 engine boosts performance with 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. This engine also unlocks all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission, making it an even better choice for drivers who require all-weather performance. Also offered with front-wheel drive, the 1.3L engine gets good gas mileage at up to 30 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway. That means you won’t have to sacrifice efficiency for some added power.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 T4 has a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 that makes a pleasant 187 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Like the Buick Encore GX, this engine is front-wheel drive only. The XC40 T5 configuration, however, comes with all-wheel drive and increases the output of the engine to 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The T4 version provides drivers with a fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon highway, while the T5 offers 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway. In both cases, the Volvo is significantly more fuel-hungry than the Buick.

A white 2021 Volvo XC40 is parked outside of a modern building.

Safety and Storage: 2021 Buick Encore GX vs 2021 Volvo XC40

More and more families are gravitating towards SUVs and crossovers, and the 2021 Buick Encore GX and the 2021 Volvo XC40 are both perfectly tuned in to the needs of the modern family when it comes to a daily use vehicle. That means loads of safety and driver assistance features, as well as enough storage to make road trips less cramped and more enjoyable.

Both the Encore GX and the Volvo XC40 include folding rear seats to accommodate a significant amount of stuff, whether that means groceries for a family feast or equipment for your next hiking, camping, or cycling escapade. The Buick provides 50.20 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row completely stashed, while the Volvo has 57.5 cubic feet. However, the Encore GX also has a flat-folding front passenger’s seat, allowing you to accommodate extremely long items that will not fit inside the XC40’s cargo compartment.

For added safety, the 2021 Buick Encore GX includes the Buick Driver Confidence Package standard on all trims. This package includes driver assistance features such as forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and front pedestrian braking, IntelliBeam automatic high beams, and following distance indicator. In Volvo’s corner, the 2021 XC40 offers lane keep assistance, blind spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking in its standard safety package, to name a few notable features.

Which Trim Is Best? 2021 Buick Encore GX vs 2021 Volvo XC40

Many people feel that the best part of buying a new car is choosing the trim and options that best suit your lifestyle and driving style. While all models of the 2021 Buick Encore GX and 2021 Volvo XC40 are well equipped from the base up, there are some key differences that can help a finicky driver make up their mind.

The Encore GX is offered in three trims: Preferred, Select, and Essence. The Preferred is the base trim and includes a generous allotment of comfort and convenience features, such as a push button start and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a 4G WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Stepping up to the Select model adds heated front seats with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, along with dual-zone climate control and a roof rack. The Select trim also adds bonus safety features, including blindspot warning and rear parking assistance.

The Essence trim of the 2021 Encore GX is designed with an even higher level of convenience in mind, with a 120V power outlet and in-vehicle air ionizer, perfect for bumping up the Buick’s compatibility with road trips and outdoor adventures. Comfort is not ignored, as the Essence trim gets leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and driver’s side memory settings.

The Volvo XC40 is offered in two configurations – the T4 and the T5 – each of which is offered in three different trims: the Momentum, the R-Design, and the Inscription. The difference between the two configurations is the engine and powertrain.

The base Momentum trim starts things off very nicely with leather upholstery, a power tailgate and adjustable driver’s seat, and a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone app integration, four total USB ports, and a WiFi hotspot. The R-Design trim is designed to be sportier, with a specially tuned chassis, navigation, and a panoramic moonroof. At the top, the Inscription trim features loads of stylistic choices, such as actual driftwood inlays and a crystal ball perched atop the gearshift.

Both the 2021 Buick Encore GX and 2021 Volvo XC40 offer an entire portfolio of additional optional features, many of which are bundled into packages for your enjoyment. From heated seats to premium sound systems, there are seemingly endless ways to customize your new crossover, regardless of which option you ultimately choose.

A blue 2021 Buick Encore GX is parked on a modern driveway.

Premium Subcompact SUVs are Fun and Versatile

Whether you select the 2021 Buick Encore GX or the 2021 Volvo XC40, you’re likely to enjoy driving a small crossover that wanders into luxury territory without forgetting about efficiency and usefulness. With engines that are strategically designed to make the driving experience equal parts fun and economical, each vehicle has an appropriate level of zip given the job it was designed to do.

Furthermore, Buick and Volvo have both carefully considered the needs of the modern driver when incorporating small storage bins inside the cabin and creating larger cargo spaces for bigger adventures. After all, it’s no fun having an SUV that can’t go on journeys with you. Add into that the generously equipped trims offered by each, and it seems like you might need to do some extra careful consideration before making your final decision.

As we steer towards a crossover-heavy future, manufacturers will need to keep things fresh and practical to attract the daily driver who needs it all. Both the Buick Encore GX and Volvo XC40 seem well in tune with what drivers want, need, and ultimately buy.