2018 Buick Encore vs. 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Buick Encore are height-adjustable, and the rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Encore and the Golf Alltrack have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Encore comes with free roadside assistance for 6 years 70,000 miles. Buick will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf Alltrack.

Buick pays for scheduled maintenance on the Encore for 2 years and 24,000 miles. Buick will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance (up to 2 oil changes). Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Golf Alltrack.

There are over 3 times as many Buick dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Encore’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Encore’s reliability 26 points higher than the Golf Alltrack.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Encore third among small suvs in their 2017 Initial Quality Study. The Golf Alltrack isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 8 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Encore AWD 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. (153 HP) gets better fuel mileage than the Golf Alltrack Auto (26 city/31 hwy vs. 22 city/30 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Encore w/Direct Injection Engine offers an available system to automatically turn off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Encore has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

The Buick Encore comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf Alltrack.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Encore’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf Alltrack:

 

Encore

Golf Alltrack

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

11.3 inches

The Encore stops shorter than the Golf Alltrack:

 

Encore

Golf Alltrack

 

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

122 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

134 feet

137 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Encore has larger tires than the Golf Alltrack (215/55R18 vs. 205/55R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Encore has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Golf Alltrack.

Suspension and Handling

The Encore has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Golf Alltrack’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

Chassis

The Encore is 11.8 inches shorter than the Golf Alltrack, making the Encore easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Encore has liquid-filled engine mounts. The liquid helps further dampen engine harshness. The Golf Alltrack uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

The Encore uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Encore has 1 inch more front headroom, .2 inches more rear headroom and .2 inches more rear legroom than the Golf Alltrack.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 22% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Ergonomics

The Encore offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the Encore Essence/Premium, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Encore Essence/Premium’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Encore has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Golf Alltrack only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

When the Encore Essence/Premium is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Golf Alltrack’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold winter days, the Encore Essence/Premium’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Model Availability

The Encore is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Golf Alltrack doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

The Buick Encore has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

Encore

Golf Alltrack

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Encore second among small suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Golf Alltrack isn’t in the top three.

The Buick Encore outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by 28% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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