2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack vs. 2019 Buick Encore

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

The Golf Alltrack has standard 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.

The Golf Alltrack has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Encore doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf Alltrack (except S) offers optional Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Encore doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Golf Alltrack. But it costs extra on the Encore.

Both the Golf Alltrack and the Encore 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 lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.

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 Golf Alltrack the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Encore was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2016.

Warranty

The Golf Alltrack comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Encore’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

The Golf Alltrack’s corrosion warranty is 4 years longer than the Encore’s (10 vs. 6 years).

Reliability

The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Encore’s optional engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Golf Alltrack has a standard 480-amp battery. The Encore’s 438-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volkswagen 3 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The Golf Alltrack’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. produces 30 more horsepower (168 vs. 138) and 51 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 148) than the Encore’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Golf Alltrack’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 more horsepower (168 vs. 153) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 177) than the Encore’s optional 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is faster than the Buick Encore (automatics tested):

Golf

Encore

Encore DI

Zero to 60 MPH

7.1 sec

9.4 sec

10.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

17.1 sec

17.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

87.8 MPH

79.5 MPH

77.5 MPH

Transmission

The Golf Alltrack offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Encore doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Golf Alltrack offers an optional 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.

Brakes and Stopping

The Golf Alltrack stops shorter than the Encore:

Golf

Encore

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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

The Golf Alltrack’s optional 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 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack 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 Golf Alltrack has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Golf Alltrack 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 Golf Alltrack’s wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer than on the Encore (103.5 inches vs. 100.6 inches).

The Golf Alltrack SEL handles at .84 G’s, while the Encore pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Golf Alltrack SEL executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.6 seconds quicker than the Encore AWD (27 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 29.6 seconds @ .54 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Golf Alltrack’s turning circle is .9 feet tighter than the Encore’s (35.8 feet vs. 36.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Golf Alltrack has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Encore (6.9 vs. 6.2 inches), allowing the Golf Alltrack to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

The Golf Alltrack has .4 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more front shoulder room and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf Alltrack has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Encore with its rear seat up (30.4 vs. 18.8 cubic feet). The Golf Alltrack has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Encore with its rear seat folded (66.5 vs. 48.4 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Golf Alltrack easier. The Golf Alltrack’s trunk lift-over height is 24.8 inches, while the Encore’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

The Golf Alltrack’s cargo area is larger than the Encore’s in almost every dimension:

Golf Alltrack

Encore

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

41.5”/69.1”

28.5”/55.8”

Max Width

50.2”

39.5”

Min Width

39.6”

36”

Height

29.2”

31.8”

Servicing Ease

The Golf Alltrack uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Encore uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The Golf Alltrack’s front and rear power windows all open or close 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 Encore’s passenger windows don’t close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Golf Alltrack the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows with the driver’s door power window switch. The driver of the Encore can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Golf Alltrack’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Encore’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Golf Alltrack (except S) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Encore doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Golf Alltrack SE/SEL has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Encore doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Golf Alltrack (except S) also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

Both the Golf Alltrack and the Encore offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Golf Alltrack 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.

The Golf Alltrack (except S)’s optional Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Encore doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Volkswagen Golf comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Buick Encore isn’t available as a four door.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Buick Encore isn't recommended.

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

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The Encore has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Encore has never been chosen.

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

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