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The Q3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Encore GX doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
Both the Q3 and Encore GX have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Q3 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Encore GX’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
The Q3 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Encore GX 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.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Q3. But it costs extra on the Encore GX.
Both the Q3 and the Encore GX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
The Audi Q3 weighs 632 to 880 pounds more than the Buick Encore GX. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Q3 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 86 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Encore GX has not been tested, yet.
The Q3’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Encore GX’s (12 vs. 6 years).
The Audi Q3’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Encore GX’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.
A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Q3’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Encore GX’s camshafts. If the Encore GX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Q3 has a standard 140-amp alternator. The Encore GX’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 4 places higher in reliability than Buick.
The Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 91 more horsepower (228 vs. 137) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 162) than the Encore GX’s standard 1.2 turbo 3-cylinder. The Q3’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 73 more horsepower (228 vs. 155) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 174) than the Encore GX’s optional 1.3 turbo 3-cylinder.
The Q3 has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Encore GX (15.9 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better stopping power the Q3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Encore GX:
The Q3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Encore GX are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the Q3 has larger standard tires than the Encore GX (235/55R18 vs. 225/55R18). The Q3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Encore GX (255/40R20 vs. 225/55R18).
The Q3’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Encore GX’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Q3 offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Encore GX’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.
For superior ride and handling, the Audi Q3 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 GX has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Q3’s wheelbase is 3.3 inches longer than on the Encore GX (105.5 inches vs. 102.2 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Q3 is 1.1 inches wider in the front than on the Encore GX.
The Q3 has 1.3 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore GX.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Q3’s rear seats recline. The Encore GX’s rear seats don’t recline.
The Q3’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Encore GX’s (1500 vs. 1000 pounds).
The Q3 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Encore GX 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.
The Q3’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 GX’s passenger windows don’t close automatically.
If the windows are left open on the Q3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Encore GX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Q3’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 GX’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The Q3 Premium Plus/Prestige’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Encore GX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Q3 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 is only available on the Encore GX Select/Essence.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi Q3, based on reliability, safety and performance.
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