2020 Hyundai Santa Fe vs. 2020 Buick Encore

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

Your buying experience includes...

business_centerProfessional Staff
account_balanceSimple Financing
local_gas_stationFull Tank of Gas
local_car_washFree Car Wash

Safety

Both the Santa Fe and Encore have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Santa Fe 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’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.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Santa Fe are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Encore doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Santa Fe has standard Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Santa Fe has a standard Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist that use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Encore doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Santa Fe Limited has a standard Surround View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Encore only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Santa Fe’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Encore doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Santa Fe and the Encore have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Hyundai Santa Fe is safer than the Buick Encore:

Santa Fe

Encore

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

33%

38%

Neck Stress

120 lbs.

122 lbs.

Neck Compression

48 lbs.

104 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

256/146 lbs.

249/289 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Hyundai Santa Fe is safer than the Buick Encore:

Santa Fe

Encore

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

49

73

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.7 inches

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

648 lbs.

672 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

8 inches

14 inches

HIC

179

382

Hip Force

649 lbs.

707 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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 Santa Fe its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Encore has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The Santa Fe 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.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe 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.

The Santa Fe’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Encore’s (7 vs. 6 years).

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Santa Fe has a standard 140-amp alternator. The Encore’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Santa Fe has a standard 800-amp battery. The Encore’s 438-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe first among midsize SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Encore isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 11th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 9 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The Santa Fe’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 47 more horsepower (185 vs. 138) and 30 lbs.-ft. more torque (178 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Santa Fe 2.0T’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 97 more horsepower (235 vs. 138) and 112 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 4-cylinder is faster than the Buick Encore:

Santa Fe

Encore

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.4 sec

Quarter Mile

16.7 sec

17.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

84.3 MPH

79.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the Santa Fe’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Buick only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Encore w/Direct Injection Engine.

The Santa Fe has 4.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Encore (18.8 vs. 14 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Hyundai Santa Fe higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Buick Encore (3). This means the Santa Fe produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Encore every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Hyundai Santa Fe, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Encore.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Santa Fe’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Encore:

Santa Fe

Encore

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12 inches

10.6 inches

The Santa Fe stops shorter than the Encore:

Santa Fe

Encore

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Santa Fe has larger tires than the Encore (235/65R17 vs. 215/55R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Santa Fe 2.0T has standard 19-inch wheels. The Encore’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Hyundai Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Santa Fe flat and controlled during cornering. The Encore’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Santa Fe has a standard automatic load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Encore doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Santa Fe’s wheelbase is 8.3 inches longer than on the Encore (108.9 inches vs. 100.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Santa Fe is 4 inches wider in the front and 4.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Encore.

The Santa Fe handles at .78 G’s, while the Encore AWD pulls only .72 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Santa Fe AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Encore AWD (28.5 seconds @ .58 average G’s vs. 29.6 seconds @ .54 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe has 17.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Encore (110.7 vs. 92.8).

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Santa Fe’s middle row seats recline. The Encore’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Santa Fe’s cargo area provides more volume than the Encore.

Santa Fe

Encore

Rear Seat Up

35.9 cubic feet

18.8 cubic feet

Rear Seat Folded

71.3 cubic feet

48.4 cubic feet

The Santa Fe’s cargo area is larger than the Encore’s in almost every dimension:

Santa Fe

Encore

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

42.4”/77.4”

28.5”/55.8”

Max Width

53.7”

39.5”

Min Width

42.3”

36”

Height

31.5”

31.8”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Santa Fe’s optional second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Encore doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Santa Fe’s power liftgate, leaving your hands completely free. The Santa Fe’s power liftgate can also be opened or closed by pressing a button. The Encore doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Servicing Ease

The Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe Limited has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Encore doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Santa Fe’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Encore has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

The Santa Fe SEL/Limited’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches. The Encore’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Santa Fe detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Encore doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Both the Santa Fe and the Encore offer available heated front seats. The Santa Fe Limited also has standard heated second row seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Encore.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Santa Fe Limited 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.

Both the Santa Fe and the Encore offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe has a standard 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Hyundai Santa Fe (except SE) offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Encore doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

The Santa Fe will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Santa Fe will retain 45.92% to 47.83% of its original price after five years, while the Encore only retains 36.57% to 40.02%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe is less expensive to operate than the Encore because typical repairs cost less on the Santa Fe than the Encore, including $60 less for a water pump, $18 less for a muffler, $153 less for front brake pads and $189 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Hyundai Santa Fe, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Buick Encore isn't recommended.

The Hyundai Santa Fe outsold the Buick Encore by 26% during 2018.

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

How much is your car worth?

Get the best value for your car from an Asbury dealership.

Featured Videos