2021 Buick Encore GX vs. 2020 Kia Niro

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 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

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 Encore GX are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Niro doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Encore GX offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Niro doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Encore GX Select/Essence offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Niro only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

The Encore GX has standard OnStar®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Niro doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Encore GX and the Niro have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver 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 blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Encore GX’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Niro’s (6/100,000 vs. 5/100,000).

There are almost 3 times as many Buick dealers as there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Encore GX’s warranty.

Reliability

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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 Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

Engine

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The Encore GX’s optional 1.3 turbo 3-cylinder produces 16 more horsepower (155 vs. 139) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Encore GX has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (13.2 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Encore GX 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 Niro doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Buick Encore GX 1.3 turbo 3-cylinder AWD, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Niro.

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 Niro doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Encore GX

Niro

Front Rotors

11.81 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10.39 inches

10.3 inches

Tires and Wheels

© 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

For better traction, the Encore GX has larger tires than the Niro (225/55R18 vs. 205/60R16).

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 Niro LX/LXS/EX Premium’s standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Encore GX has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Niro LX/LXS/EX Premium.

The Encore GX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Niro doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Encore GX 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 Niro; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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The Encore GX has variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Niro doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Encore GX uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Niro doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Encore GX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Niro doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Cargo Capacity

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The Encore GX has a much larger cargo volume than the Niro with its rear seat up (23.5 vs. 19.4 cubic feet).

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

Towing

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The Encore GX has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Niro has no towing capacity.

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 Niro 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 Kia. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 32% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

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The Encore GX offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Niro doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Niro doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Encore GX’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Niro’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Encore GX’s front and rear power windows all lower 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 Niro’s power windows’ rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

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 Niro doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

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 Niro doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

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 Niro’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Encore GX’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Kia only offers heated mirrors on the Niro Touring/Touring Special Edition/EX Premium.

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 Niro doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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 Kia Niro by over four to one during 2019.

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