A black 2022 Buick Encore is shown from the side while rounding a corner during a 2022 Buick Encore GX vs 2022 Ford Bronco Sport comparison.

How to Make Decisions in the Increasingly Confusing SUV Market: The 2022 Buick Encore GX vs the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport

As of this moment, there are a lot of SUVs on the market. In fact, there are so many that we lost track, mainly because some are known by other names, such as “the compact crossover.” Still, for all intents and purposes, these vehicles are more like SUVs than cars. So how does one choose between two worthy options—in this case, the 2022 Buick Encore GX and the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport?

Your SUV should fit your lifestyle—offering all the right features for your driving needs. That may include practical applications, such as cargo space and number of seats, or more personal requirements, such as heated seats or a certain driver assistance feature. No one’s judging; different vehicles exist because drivers have various preferences, and it’s ok to shop with a purpose!

However, there may come a time when you find yourself staring at one SUV, only to be completely blindsided by another gorgeous, well-appointed vehicle. Such is the case with the 2022 Buick Encore GX and the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport. Both are very good looking vehicles with a string of enthusiastic critics recommending them to the masses. But which one do you need?

A white 2022 Buick Encore GX ST is shown from the front at an angle.

The Basics

The Buick Encore GX is not to be confused with the Buick Encore, though that is an easy mistake to make. Introduced in 2020, the Encore GX is larger than the Encore, but smaller than the Envision. Inside, you’ll find up to 50.2 cu.ft. of highly configurable cargo space, thanks to the foldable front passenger seat and 60/40 split rear seats. With every seat filled and seatbelt fastened, there is still a very useful 23.5 cu.ft. at your disposal in the two-level rear cargo area.

Under the hood of each Encore GX is an Ecotec 1.3-L turbocharged engine, which provides a smooth and reasonable 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. And, for those who tend to spend their day zipping from place to place, the Encore GX offers 29 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway when front-wheel drive is selected; you get 26 mpg city and 29 mpg highway when all-wheel drive is chosen. What AWD loses in fuel economy, though, it gains in safe on-road traction and smoother performance.

But who’s this rugged newcomer to the scene? The Bronco Sport debuted in 2021, along with its larger sibling, the Ford Bronco. If that name seems familiar, that’s because the Ford Bronco was one of the most popular off-road vehicles of the late 1960s through the 1990s, when it was discontinued to make room for the Explorer.

The Bronco Sport is a four-door, four-wheel drive vehicle that shares its namesake’s zest for the outdoors. The standard engine offering is a 1.5-L EcoBoost engine that provides 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, though the Badlands trim is equipped with a 249 horsepower 2.0-L version. Fuel economy reflects its standard 4×4 status, with the smaller engine offering 25 mpg on the city streets and 28 mpg on the highway, and the larger option comes in at 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

Who’s Who: What to Expect from the 2022 Buick Encore GX

Human nature being what it is, it’s really easy to look at the outside of the 2022 Buick Encore GX or the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport and say, “Ooh. Shiny. I want it.” In fact, you might feel that way about a lot of the smaller SUVs on the market today. Aesthetics are a big part of the automobile package, and it’s not wrong to like both the Encore GX and the Bronco Sport. It’s also not wrong to prefer the swooping aerodynamics of the Encore GX over the angular exterior of the Bronco Sport, or vice versa.

However, they each have their own unmistakable identity. With trim names like “Select,” “Preferred,” and “Essence,” joined by a separate Sport Touring edition, the Buick lives up to its manufacturer’s reputation. It is designed to lean heavily on the tenets of comfort, luxury, and the sheer enjoyment of driving. Standard features include LED exterior lighting and heated exterior mirror, an infotainment system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, USB ports, and an 8-in. touchscreen. The higher trims allow drivers to select Buick’s Advanced Technology Package, which adds a surround-view outside camera, parking assistance, and a head-up display.

Most Encore GX trims include standard front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive can be optioned on these trims. Roof rails are also available across the lineup, but it is worth noting that this SUV is not intended for rigorous off-road activity in its factory-installed trappings. Instead, Buick encourages drivers to take advantage of cozier features, like heated front seats, leather upholstery, in-cabin air ionizer, and a premium Bose audio system.

A grey 2022 Ford Bronco Sport is shown from the side towing a Polaris Razor off-road.

Who’s Who: What to Expect from the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport

And then there’s the Ford Bronco Sport. While the words “Bronco” and “Sport” may not do the ruggedness of this vehicle justice, perhaps the trim names, including “Big Bend,” “Outer Banks,” and “Badlands,” provide some insight into this SUV’s capabilities. Standard 4×4 action; G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) driving modes to control crawl, traction, and torque; and High Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension, or HOSS, are all features that indicate the Bronco Sport is ready for action—beyond the pavement.

That’s not to say the Bronco Sport is without charm. Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system is on board, with an 8-in. touchscreen leading to smartphone integration, USB ports, and a sound system that can be upgraded to a premium Bang & Olufsen version (on trims in which it doesn’t come standard). Heated power-adjustable seats, heated steering wheel, and sport contour leather seats are among some of the options offered throughout the lineup.

Making Hard Choices: the 2022 Buick Encore GX vs. the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport

Choosing between these two SUVs will be easier for some drivers than others. If you’re interested in a smooth, luxurious ride, the Buick wins. Similarly, if you need a hardcore off-road beast, there’s really only one choice here: the Ford.

But for many drivers, the choice isn’t that easy. What if you want all-wheel drive, but don’t necessarily need the skid plates, tow hooks, and low crawl ratio available on the Bronco Sport Badlands trim? Does that mean you’re forbidden from checking out the more driver-focused Outer Banks trim? And, is it such a bad thing to prioritize something like an in-cabin air ionizer over G.O.A.T. capabilities?

Absolutely not. One thing is abundantly clear: the 2022 Buick Encore GX and the 2022 Ford Bronco Sport are both superstars in the same category for very different reasons. Perhaps you’ll find yourself surprised by your preference in drive style. After all, the Encore GX is designed to swoop through streets smoothly, while the Bronco Sport is braced for all kinds of rigorous impact.

Maybe fuel economy is at the top of your list. Or, you could be in search of that certain something that you don’t entirely know unless you experience it first hand. Therefore, take your time when looking for your ideal SUV. Decide which features mean the most to you—and what your budget will allow. Then, get behind the wheel and just drive.