If you are looking for a subcompact crossover SUV, these are two great options to compare: 2020 Ford EcoSport vs 2020 Buick Encore. Both offer tremendous value, and both provide reliable powertrains and impressive tech. For the price, you’ll also find spacious interiors and upscale materials, which is an unexpected find in this price range. What sets these two apart, however, comes down to why people turn to SUVs in the first place: power, functionality, and convenience. And in all cases, the 2020 Ford EcoSport comes out on top. While the 2020 Buick Encore subtracts features, the Ford EcoSport piles on more tech and convenience features, as well as offering a much more powerful engine.
The Ford EcoSport has the intangibles too: it’s fun to drive. You will enjoy driving this SUV through twisting roads and meandering canyons. This is one of the best-handling subcompacts around. With plenty of power, and refined suspension and steering, the EcoSport is a joy to drive. Unfortunately, the Buick Encore does not offer a choice of engines, and the one powertrain that is offered is underpowered, which makes for a not-so-fun driving experience. With a Buick, you are generally paying for a near-luxury driving experience, which does not necessarily materialize with the 2020 Buick Encore. But let’s take a more in-depth look into how these two auto manufacturers have positioned their subcompacts in this crowded segment.
Tech Shows Value of EcoSport
The 2020 Ford EcoSport jumps into the entry-level trim with a host of standard features. New for this model year is FordPass Connect, which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and the ability to remotely start, lock, unlock and locate the vehicle via a smartphone. The SE trim also gains an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Apps included in Ford’s infotainment system are able to connect to your hand-held devices for seamless integration and include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and Waze navigation. There is also a Wi-Fi hotspot included as standard, as well as a rearview camera, power windows, power locks, air conditioning, cruise control, telescopic steering wheel, and 16-inch painted wheels.
Moving up in trim levels brings even more tech and convenience: a power moonroof, automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a reverse sensing system. This is already starting to sound like a near-luxury SUV, with so many options for added comfort. The Titanium trim, which is not even the highest trim level, adds a B&O premium audio system, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, leather seating surfaces, and heated mirrors, and steering wheel. The SES, where we finally see the highest trim level, adds blind-spot warning and a sport-tuned suspension, voice-activated navigation, ambient lighting, a 110-volt outlet, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry pad, and a rear-passenger entertainment system. That’s quite a lot of tech and comfort for an SUV starting at only $19,995.
The 2020 Buick Encore should shine with its luxury touches and state-of-the-art tech, and though the standard tech is on par with the EcoSport, it does not offer the same value. You’ll find very similar features, such as smartphone integration, Wi-Fi, and an 8-inch touchscreen. A power driver’s seat, satellite radio, USB ports, and Bluetooth round out the relatively disappointing standard features. The Sport Touring trim cuts navigation, dual-zone climate control, and a self-dimming mirror, and turn signals in the side mirrors have been discontinued. For optional features, the Buick Encore includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control, and heated front seats and steering wheel, as well as a power-adjustable front passenger seat.
EcoSport Has More Power
It’s not just that the 2020 Ford EcoSport outperforms the Encore, and it’s not just that it’s not even close, it’s that the EcoSport does not sacrifice fuel efficiency with the additional power. The EcoSport comes standard with a 1.0-liter turbocharged (EcoBoost) inline-3 that offers 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. While this engine is not more powerful than the engine standard in the Buick Encore, it brings a more fuel-efficient option with adequate power. At least you have a choice with the EcoSport. If you do not need the extra power, you can opt for an engine that gets an exceptional fuel economy of 27/29 MPG (city/highway).
The next option for the EcoSport, however, also offers impressive fuel efficiency. At 23 MPG city and 29 MPG highway, you will not be visiting the gas station very often. And the 2.0-liter inline-4 brings 166 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque, so you will appreciate the extra ponies. Twenty-eight of them, to be precise. Unfortunately, the Buick Encore dropped its more powerful engine option and now only offers the underpowered and uninspiring 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4. This engine, while slightly better than the standard engine on the EcoSport, offers far less power than the upgraded version. The Encore’s engine provides only 138 hp, which is a significant downfall.
If you are looking for a fun driving experience and a 2,000-pound tow rating, the Ford EcoSport is a clear winner. Towing is not recommended for the Buick Encore, which says a lot about the confidence Buick has in this powertrain. When deciding on your next SUV, this is a significant consideration. The last thing you want is to realize that your new SUV does not have the functionality you would expect an SUV to have. You might end up having to buy a new SUV sooner than you want if you go with one that underperforms or does not meet the needs of your lifestyle. In this case, the Ford EcoSport makes the decision easy on you.
The only thing left to talk about is the starting price, right? After all, this is a seemingly clear-cut decision: the EcoSport outperforms on the road, includes an abundance of tech and convenience, and has much more functionality and utility for you and your family. So you might expect that the EcoSport costs more than Encore, by analyzing the specs and features. You might be surprised, however, that the starting price for the Encore is about $3,000 more than the EcoSport. The EcoSport is priced at a very affordable starting cost of $19,995. The 2020 Buick Encore starts at $23,200. Keep in mind that’s without the option for a better engine, which you could easily afford with the EcoSport, all while keeping the price tag under the Encore’s.
If you are looking for a fun subcompact-crossover SUV for the family, or if you are hoping to start a family soon, the 2020 Ford EcoSport hits all the right notes. With space for the kids and their gear—including a spacious cargo hold with a configurable load floor, as well as a side-opening rear hatch door for easy loading—the EcoSport is everything you could want from a small SUV. And don’t forget about the rear-seat entertainment system for the kids. The 2020 Buick Encore, unfortunately, comes up short in several key areas and does not offer the functionality we have all come to expect from an SUV. If you are looking for power, tech and convenience, fuel efficiency and functionality, and general family utility, the EcoSport should be at the top of your subcompact list.