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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 Mercedes GLA has only front height-adjustable seat belts.
To help make backing safer, the Encore (except Base)’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The GLA doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
Compared to metal, the Encore’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mercedes GLA has a metal gas tank.
Both the Encore and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot 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 Encore the rating of “Top Pick” for 2016, a rating granted to only 212 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLA has not been tested, yet.
Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Encore 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLA. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the GLA ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.
The Encore’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the GLA’s (6 vs. 5 years).
There are over 5 times as many Buick dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Encore’s warranty.
The Buick Encore’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the GLA’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Encore has a standard 130-amp alternator. The GLA’s 115-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Encore’s reliability 26 points higher than the GLA.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 3 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Buick Encore uses regular unleaded gasoline. The GLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
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 GLA doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
The Encore stops shorter than the GLA:
60 to 0 MPH
60 to 0 MPH (Wet)
The Encore has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLA; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.
The Encore has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GLA’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
For greater off-road capability the Encore has a greater minimum ground clearance than the GLA (6.2 vs. 5.3 inches), allowing the Encore to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The Encore is 5.5 inches shorter than the GLA, 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 GLA doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Encore has .4 inches more rear headroom and 1.9 inches more rear legroom than the GLA.
The front step up height for the Encore is 1.6 inches lower than the GLA (16.8” vs. 18.4”). The Encore’s rear step up height is 2.7 inches lower than the GLA’s (16.8” vs. 19.5”).
The Encore has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the GLA with its rear seat up (18.8 vs. 17.2 cubic feet). The Encore has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the GLA with its rear seat folded (48.4 vs. 43.6 cubic feet).
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 GLA doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Encore’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The GLA’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Encore has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLA only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.
Consumer Reports rated the Encore’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the GLA’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Encore has standard extendable sun visors. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.
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 GLA’s 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 GLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
The Encore (except Bae) 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 GLA doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.
Insurance will cost less for the Encore owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Encore will cost $35 to $2465 less than the GLA over a five-year period.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Encore is less expensive to operate than the GLA because typical repairs cost much less on the Encore than the GLA, including $540 less for a water pump, $233 less for a muffler, $3 less for front brake pads, $486 less for a starter, $458 less for fuel injection, $120 less for a fuel pump, $237 less for front struts and $716 less for a power steering pump.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Buick Encore will be $9725 to $20841 less than for the Mercedes GLA.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Buick Encore, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes GLA isn't recommended.
The Buick Encore outsold the Mercedes GLA by almost five to one during 2019.
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