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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 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid has only front height-adjustable seat belts.
Both the Encore and the Rav4 Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, 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.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Encore the rating of “Top Pick” for 2016, a rating granted to only 159 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Rav4 Hybrid has not been tested, yet.
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 Rav4 Hybrid’s 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 Toyota covers the Rav4 Hybrid. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Rav4 Hybrid ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The Encore’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Rav4 Hybrid’s (6 vs. 5 years).
There are over 63 percent more Buick dealers than there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Encore’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 16th in initial quality. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 17th.
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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.
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 Rav4 Hybrid 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 Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
The Encore stops much shorter than the Rav4 Hybrid:
60 to 0 MPH
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 Rav4 Hybrid LE/XLE’s standard 65 series tires. The Encore’s tires are lower profile than the Rav4 Hybrid XSE/Limited’s 60 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Encore has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Rav4 Hybrid LE/XLE.
The Encore has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Rav4 Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The Encore has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Buick Encore may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 pounds less than the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid.
The Encore is 1 foot shorter than the Rav4 Hybrid, making the Encore easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Encore uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Encore has .1 inches more front headroom and 2.4 inches more rear hip room than the Rav4 Hybrid.
The Encore’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The Rav4 Hybrid’s swing out door blocks loading from the driver’s side.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 23% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 17th.
The Encore’s standard variable intermittent wipers have an adjustable delay to allow the driver to choose a setting that best clears the windshield during light rain or mist. The Rav4 Hybrid LE’s standard fixed intermittent wipers only have one fixed delay setting, so the driver will have to manually switch them between slow and intermittent.
The Encore has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The Rav4 Hybrid has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the XLE/XSE/Limited.
The Encore’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Toyota charges extra for heated mirrors on the Rav4 Hybrid.
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 Rav4 Hybrid’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Encore Sport Touring/Essence’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Rav4 Hybrid’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.
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 Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.
The Encore is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.
The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Buick Encore, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.
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