2021 Buick Encore vs. 2020 BMW X3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear (child comfort guides) seat shoulder belts of the Buick Encore 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 BMW X3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Encore and the X3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Encore 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the X3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 6 times as many Buick dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Encore’s warranty.

Reliability

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The Buick Encore’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the X3’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Encore’s reliability 35 points higher than the X3.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Encore third among small suvs in their 2020 Initial Quality Study. The X3 isn’t in the top three in its category.

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 BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 18th, 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 BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 7th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Encore FWD gets better fuel mileage than the X3 s/xDrive30i RWD (25 city/30 hwy vs. 25 city/29 hwy).

The Encore 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 X3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Encore stops much shorter than the X3:

Encore

X3

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

134 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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The Encore’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the X3’s standard 60 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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For better maneuverability, the Encore’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the X3 xDrive30i’s (36.7 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The Encore’s turning circle is 3 feet tighter than the X3 M40i’s (36.7 feet vs. 39.7 feet).

Chassis

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The Buick Encore may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 700 to 950 pounds less than the BMW X3.

The Encore is 1 foot, 5.5 inches shorter than the X3, making the Encore easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Encore uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The X3 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The front step up height for the Encore is 1.7 inches lower than the X3 (16.8” vs. 18.5”). The Encore’s rear step up height is 1.7 inches lower than the X3’s (16.8” vs. 18.5”).

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 10% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

Ergonomics

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The Encore Preferred 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 X3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Encore has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the X3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Consumer Reports rated the Encore’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the X3’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

The Encore Preferred offers an optional 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 X3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Encore owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Encore will cost $145 to $1900 less than the X3 over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Encore is less expensive to operate than the X3 because it costs $527 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Encore than the X3, including $519 less for a water pump, $589 less for a muffler, $486 less for a starter, $445 less for fuel injection, $163 less for a fuel pump, $320 less for front struts, $356 less for a timing belt/chain and $1055 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Buick Encore will be $13467 to $20644 less than for the BMW X3.

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 has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Encore

X3

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Buick Encore outsold the BMW X3 by 46% during 2019.

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