2021 Buick Encore GX vs. 2020 GMC Terrain

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Buick Encore GX are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The GMC Terrain doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

Both the Encore GX and the Terrain have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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There are over 17 percent more Buick dealers than there are GMC dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Encore GX’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than GMC vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, GMC is ranked 8th.

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 GMC vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, GMC is ranked 22nd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than GMC vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 4 places higher in reliability than GMC.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

Encore GX

Terrain

2WD

1.3 turbo 3 cyl./Auto

30 city/32 hwy

26 city/30 hwy

1.5 4 cyl./Auto

1.2 turbo 3 cyl./Auto

28 city/31 hwy

22 city/28 hwy

2.0 4 cyl./Auto

4WD

1.3 turbo 3 cyl./9-spd Auto

26 city/29 hwy

25 city/28 hwy

1.5 4 cyl./Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

n/a

21 city/26 hwy

2.0 4 cyl./Auto

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

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Buick Encore GX uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Terrain with the 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Buick Encore GX higher (7 out of 10) than the GMC Terrain (5 to 7). This means the Encore GX produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Terrain every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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The Encore GX has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Terrain doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

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The Encore GX’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Terrain’s standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Encore GX has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Terrain.

Suspension and Handling

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For greater off-road capability the Encore GX has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Terrain SLE (7.5 vs. 6.9 inches), allowing the Encore GX to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The Buick Encore GX may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 550 pounds less than the GMC Terrain.

The Encore GX is 10.9 inches shorter than the Terrain, making the Encore GX easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Towing

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The Encore GX AWD can be flat towed on all four wheels (dinghy towed), allowing recreational vehicle owners to bring it with them on the road. When they reach their destination, the Encore GX can be unhitched and driven around locally. The Terrain can’t be towed flat on the ground.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than GMC. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 17% lower rating, GMC is ranked 14th.

Ergonomics

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The Encore GX Select/Essence 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 Terrain doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Encore GX’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Terrain doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its OnStar® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Encore GX’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Terrain doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its OnStar® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Encore GX Essence’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Terrain’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Encore GX Select/Essence’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Terrain’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

The Encore GX Essence’s optional Automatic Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting and stopping automatically, with the driver only responsible for switching from reverse to drive. The Terrain Denali’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/10/30

The Buick Encore outsold the GMC Terrain by 932 units during 2019.

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