2020 MINI Countryman vs. 2020 Buick Encore

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/16

The Countryman has standard Automatic 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 Countryman has a standard PostCrash iBrake, 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.

The Countryman’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 Countryman and the Encore 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and front 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 Countryman the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 169 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Encore was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2016.

Warranty

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The Countryman’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Encore’s (12 vs. 6 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Countryman for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Buick only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Encore.

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Countryman has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Encore’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks MINI 10 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

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The Countryman’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Countryman S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 51 more horsepower (189 vs. 138) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (206 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The JCW Countryman’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 163 more horsepower (301 vs. 138) and 183 lbs.-ft. more torque (331 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the MINI Countryman is faster than the Buick Encore:

Countryman turbo 3 cyl.

Countryman S

Encore

Zero to 60 MPH

9.3 sec

7.4 sec

9.4 sec

Quarter Mile

17 sec

15.7 sec

17.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

79.6 MPH

86.7 MPH

79.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/16

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

Countryman

Encore

2WD

1.5 turbo 3 cyl./7-spd. Auto

26 city/33 hwy

n/a

2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (189 HP)/7-spd. Auto

24 city/33 hwy

25 city/30 hwy

1.4 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

4WD

1.5 turbo 3 cyl./8-spd. Auto

24 city/33 hwy

n/a

2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (189 HP)/8-spd. Auto

23 city/31 hwy

24 city/29 hwy

1.4 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

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

Regardless of its engine, the Countryman’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 Countryman has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Encore (16.1 vs. 14 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is available on the MINI Countryman, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Encore.

The Countryman 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.

The Countryman Auto’s optional launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Encore doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Countryman stops shorter than the Encore:

Countryman

Encore

60 to 0 MPH

120 feet

127 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

130 feet

134 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Countryman has larger tires than the Encore (225/55R17 vs. 215/55R18).

The Countryman’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.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Countryman offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Encore’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the Countryman can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Encore doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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

The Countryman offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Encore’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Countryman’s wheelbase is 4.5 inches longer than on the Encore (105.1 inches vs. 100.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Countryman is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Encore.

The Countryman S ALL4 handles at .83 G’s, while the Encore AWD pulls only .72 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Countryman S ALL4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Encore AWD (27.2 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 29.6 seconds @ .54 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the Countryman has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Encore (6.5 vs. 6.2 inches), allowing the Countryman to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

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The Countryman has 4.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Encore (96.9 vs. 92.8).

The Countryman has .9 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front shoulder room, 1.8 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Countryman’s rear seats recline. The Encore’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Countryman’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The Encore doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening liftgate.

Ergonomics

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The Countryman offers an optional 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 Countryman’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 Countryman’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 Countryman the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Encore can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Countryman 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.

The Countryman’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.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Countryman to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Encore doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Countryman 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 Countryman offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Encore doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Countryman offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Encore offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Countryman and the Encore offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Countryman 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 Countryman offers an optional Active 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 MINI Countryman offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Encore doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Countryman’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Encore doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

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The Countryman will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Countryman will retain 45.61% to 52.4% 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 Countryman is less expensive to operate than the Encore because typical repairs cost less on the Countryman than the Encore, including $105 less for front brake pads, $27 less for a fuel pump and $51 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/16

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

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Countryman first among small suvs 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.

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

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