2020 Volvo XC40 vs. 2020 Buick Encore

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC40 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Buick Encore doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The XC40’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Encore doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the XC40 and Encore have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC40 offers optional 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.

The XC40 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Encore doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC40 has standard City Safety, 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 XC40 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply 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 XC40 offers an optional CTA Auto Brake 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 XC40 offers an optional 360-Degree Surround View Camera 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 XC40’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 XC40 and the Encore have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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 XC40 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 XC40’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Encore’s (12 vs. 6 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC40 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Buick only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Encore.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC40 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Encore’s 438-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The XC40 T4’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 49 more horsepower (187 vs. 138) and 73 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The XC40 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 110 more horsepower (248 vs. 138) and 110 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 148) than the Encore’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the XC40 T5 is faster than the Buick Encore:

XC40

Encore

Zero to 30 MPH

2.9 sec

3.8 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

11 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.9 sec

6.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

18.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

77.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC40 T4 FWD gets better fuel mileage than the Encore FWD (23 city/33 hwy vs. 25 city/30 hwy).

Regardless of its engine, the XC40’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.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC40 higher (5 out of 10) than the Buick Encore (3). This means the XC40 produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Encore every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volvo XC40, 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 XC40’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Encore:

XC40

Encore

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

10.6 inches

The XC40 stops shorter than the Encore:

XC40

Encore

70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC40 has larger standard tires than the Encore (235/55R18 vs. 215/55R18). The XC40’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Encore (245/45R20 vs. 215/55R18).

The XC40’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 XC40 offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Encore’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volvo XC40 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 XC40 has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the XC40 flat and controlled during cornering. The Encore’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The XC40 offers an available 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.

The XC40 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC40’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Encore doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC40’s wheelbase is 5.8 inches longer than on the Encore (106.4 inches vs. 100.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the XC40 is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 3.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Encore.

The XC40 T5 R-Design AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Encore pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC40 T5 R-Design AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the Encore AWD (28.1 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 29.6 seconds @ .54 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC40 has a 2.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Encore (8.3 vs. 6.2 inches), allowing the XC40 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

The XC40 has 5.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Encore (98 vs. 92.8).

The XC40 has .1 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, .3 inches more rear legroom, 4.5 inches more rear hip room and 3.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore.

Cargo Capacity

The XC40 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Encore with its rear seat up (20.7 vs. 18.8 cubic feet). The XC40 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Encore with its rear seat folded (57.5 vs. 48.4 cubic feet).

The XC40’s cargo area is larger than the Encore’s in almost every dimension:

XC40

Encore

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

34.9”/65.7”

28.5”/55.8”

Max Width

47.8”

39.5”

Min Width

39.5”

36”

Height

29.4”

31.8”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the XC40’s optional rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Encore doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the XC40. The Encore doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the XC40 has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just waving your foot, completely leaving your hands free. The Encore doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Towing

The XC40 has a 3500 lbs. towing capacity. The Encore has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The XC40 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 XC40’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 XC40’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 XC40 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 also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Encore can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The XC40 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 XC40’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 optional on the XC40 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.

Consumer Reports rated the XC40’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Encore’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC40 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Encore doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the XC40 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 XC40 offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Encore doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC40 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The XC40 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 XC40 and the Encore offer available heated front seats. The XC40 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Encore.

Both the XC40 and the Encore offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the XC40 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 XC40 offers an optional Adaptive 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 Volvo XC40 offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Encore doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The XC40’s optional Park Assist Pilot 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.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC40 is less expensive to operate than the Encore because typical repairs cost less on the XC40 than the Encore, including $16 less for a muffler, $121 less for front brake pads, $89 less for a timing belt/chain and $38 less for a power steering pump.

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

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