2021 Buick Encore GX vs. 2020 Mazda CX-3

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 2020/10/25

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

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 CX-3 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.

Both the Encore GX and the CX-3 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, 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 and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Encore GX’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the CX-3’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are almost 4 times as many Buick dealers as there are Mazda 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’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 34 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

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 Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The Encore GX’s standard 1.2 turbo 3-cylinder produces 16 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 146) than the CX-3’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder. The Encore GX’s optional 1.3 turbo 3-cylinder produces 7 more horsepower (155 vs. 148) and 28 lbs.-ft. more torque (174 vs. 146) than the CX-3’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the Encore GX’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Encore GX’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Encore GX has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 AWD’s standard fuel tank (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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

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 Mazda CX-3 (3 to 7). This means the Encore GX produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the CX-3 every 15,000 miles.

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 CX-3.

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Encore GX’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-3:

Encore GX

CX-3

CX-3 AWD

Front Rotors

11.81 inches

11 inches

11.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Encore GX has larger tires than the CX-3 (225/55R18 vs. 215/60R16).

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 CX-3’s standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Encore GX has standard 18-inch wheels. Only 16-inch wheels are available on the CX-3.

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Encore GX is 1.1 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-3.

For greater off-road capability the Encore GX has a 1.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the CX-3 (7.5 vs. 6.1 inches), allowing the Encore GX to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Encore GX’s minimum ground clearance is 1.3 inches higher than on the CX-3 Touring/Grand Touring (7.5 vs. 6.2 inches).

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 CX-3 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 CX-3 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Encore GX has 1.3 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, .9 inches more rear headroom, 1 inch more rear legroom and 3.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-3.

Cargo Capacity

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The Encore GX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the CX-3 with its rear seat up (23.5 vs. 17.8 cubic feet). The Encore GX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the CX-3 with its rear seat folded (50.2 vs. 42.7 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 CX-3 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 CX-3 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 CX-3 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 Mazda. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 46% lower rating, Mazda is ranked 25th.

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the Encore GX Essence, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position (with optional power wheel adjuster) and outside mirror angle. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Encore GX Essence’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CX-3 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Encore GX and the CX-3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Encore GX is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-3 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 CX-3’s passenger windows don’t open automatically.

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 CX-3 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 CX-3 doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

Keyless Access standard on the Encore GX allows you to unlock the doors, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Mazda CX-3’s Pushbutton Start doesn’t unlock the doors or the cargo door.

The Encore GX’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. The CX-3 doesn’t offer heated side mirrors.

When the Encore GX Essence is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The CX-3’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Encore GX offers optional heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the CX-3.

On extremely cold winter days, the Encore GX Essence’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Encore GX Select/Essence’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The CX-3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Buick Encore GX Essence offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The CX-3 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Encore GX Essence has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

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 CX-3 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 2020/10/25

The Buick Encore outsold the Mazda CX-3 by over six to one during 2019.

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