2019 Kia Niro vs. 2019 Buick Encore

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Encore doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Encore offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

Both the Niro and the Encore 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Niro comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Encore’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Buick covers the Encore. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Encore ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 16th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Buick is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 1 more horsepower (139 vs. 138) and 47 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 148) than the Encore’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 18 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 177) than the Encore’s optional 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Niro is faster than the Buick Encore:

 

Niro

Encore

Encore opt.

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.4 sec

10.7 sec

Quarter Mile

16.8 sec

17.1 sec

17.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

83 MPH

79.5 MPH

77.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the Encore:

 

 

Niro

Encore

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

26 city/31 hwy

(153 HP)

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

25 city/33 hwy

(138 HP)

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

25 city/30 hwy

(153 HP)

 

 

n/a

24 city/29 hwy

(138 HP)

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Encore doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro higher (7 out of 10) than the Buick Encore (3). This means the Niro produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Encore every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Encore doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The Niro stops shorter than the Encore:

 

Niro

Encore

 

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Encore (225/45R18 vs. 215/55R18).

The Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Encore’s 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Kia Niro has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Buick Encore has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Niro has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Niro flat and controlled during cornering. The Encore’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 5.7 inches longer than on the Encore (106.3 inches vs. 100.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Niro is .8 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Encore.

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Encore AWD pulls only .72 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.3 seconds quicker than the Encore AWD (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 29.6 seconds @ .54 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the Encore’s (34.8 feet vs. 36.7 feet).

Passenger Space

The Niro has 8.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Encore (100.9 vs. 92.8).

The Niro has .5 inches more front headroom, .9 inches more front legroom, 2 inches more front hip room, 1.8 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 2.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore.

The front step up height for the Niro is 1.3 inches lower than the Encore (15.5” vs. 16.8”). The Niro’s rear step up height is .6 inches lower than the Encore’s (16.2” vs. 16.8”).

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Encore with its rear seat up (19.4 vs. 18.8 cubic feet). The Niro has a larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Encore with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 48.4 cubic feet).

The Niro’s cargo area is larger than the Encore’s in every dimension:

 

Niro

Encore

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

28.5”/55.8”

Max Width

48.2”

39.5”

Min Width

41”

36”

Height

36”

31.8”

Ergonomics

The Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches. The Encore’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

The Niro has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Encore doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Encore doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Niro has a standard 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. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Encore.

Both the Niro and the Encore offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Niro EX/S Touring/Touring has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Encore doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers an optional Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Encore doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Niro and the Buick Encore, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Encore was rated second.

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

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