2019 Buick Encore vs. 2019 Nissan Kicks

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 Nissan Kicks has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The Encore offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Kicks doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Buick Encore has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Kicks doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Encore Essence’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Kicks doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Encore has standard OnStar®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Kicks doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Encore and the Kicks have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available collision warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The Buick Encore weighs 565 to 719 pounds more than the Nissan Kicks. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

The Encore comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Kicks’ 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Encore 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Nissan covers the Kicks. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Kicks ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Encore’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Kicks’ (6 vs. 5 years).

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). Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Kicks.

There are over 86 percent more Buick dealers than there are Nissan dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Encore’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Encore has a standard 130-amp alternator. The Kicks’ 120-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

Engine

The Encore’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 16 more horsepower (138 vs. 122) and 34 lbs.-ft. more torque (148 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Encore’s optional 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 31 more horsepower (153 vs. 122) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (177 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Buick Encore (base engine) is faster than the Nissan Kicks:

 

Encore

Kicks

Zero to 60 MPH

9.4 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

17.1 sec

17.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

79.5 MPH

77.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Encore w/Direct Injection Engine’s engine automatically turns off 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 Kicks doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Encore has 3.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (14 vs. 10.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 Kicks doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Encore

Kicks

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

10.16 inches

Rear Rotors

10.6 inches

8” drums

The Buick Encore has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Kicks. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Encore stops much shorter than the Kicks:

 

Encore

Kicks

 

70 to 0 MPH

175 feet

190 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Encore has larger tires than the Kicks (215/55R18 vs. 205/60R16).

The Encore’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Kicks S’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Encore has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Kicks S. The Kicks’ largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The Buick Encore’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Nissan Kicks only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

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

The Encore AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Kicks SR (28.2 seconds @ .58 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

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

Passenger Space

The Encore has .8 inches more front hip room, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, 2.6 inches more rear legroom and 1 inch more rear hip room than the Kicks.

Cargo Capacity

The Encore has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Kicks with its rear seat folded (48.4 vs. 32.3 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Encore Essence, 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 Kicks doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Encore Essence’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 Kicks doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Encore and the Kicks have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Encore is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Kicks prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Encore’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Kicks’ rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

The Encore Essence’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Kicks’ manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Encore’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Kicks SV/SR.

When the Encore Essence 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 Kicks’ mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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

The Encore has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Kicks doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Encore’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Kicks doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Encore Sport Touring/Essence. The Encore’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Kicks doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With standard voice command, the Encore offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Kicks doesn’t offer a voice control system.

The Encore offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Kicks doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Buick Encore, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

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 Kicks isn’t in the top three.

The Buick Encore outsold the Nissan Kicks by almost four to one during 2018.

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

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