2021 Buick Encore 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

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Buick Encore are height-adjustable, and the rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Mazda CX-3 has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The Encore Preferred offers optional Ultrasonic Park Assist to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Compared to metal, the Encore’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda CX-3 has a metal gas tank.

Both the Encore 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Buick Encore is safer than the Mazda CX-3:

Encore

CX-3

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

73

183

Chest Movement

.7 inches

.8 inches

Abdominal Force

120 G’s

199 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

100

241

Spine Acceleration

33 G’s

85 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

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The Encore’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’s warranty.

Reliability

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The Buick Encore’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the CX-3’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Encore third among small suvs in their 2020 Initial Quality Study. The CX-3 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 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.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Encore has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 AWD’s standard fuel tank (14 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Encore has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 FWD’s standard fuel tank (14 vs. 12.7 gallons).

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Encore

CX-3

CX-3 AWD

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

11 inches

11.6 inches

The Encore stops shorter than the CX-3:

Encore

CX-3

70 to 0 MPH

175 feet

181 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

127 feet

135 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

134 feet

148 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 CX-3’s standard 60 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

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The Encore has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The CX-3’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Encore handles at .82 G’s, while the CX-3 AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the Encore has a greater minimum ground clearance than the CX-3 (6.2 vs. 6.1 inches), allowing the Encore to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The Encore 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 has 5.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-3 (92.8 vs. 87.6).

The Encore has 1.2 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear headroom, .8 inches more rear legroom, 1.1 inches more rear hip room and 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-3.

Cargo Capacity

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The Encore has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the CX-3 with its rear seat up (18.8 vs. 17.8 cubic feet). The Encore has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the CX-3 with its rear seat folded (48.4 vs. 42.7 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Encore easier. The Encore’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 28.8 inches, while the CX-3’s liftover is 30.6 inches.

Servicing Ease

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The Encore has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The CX-3 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

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

The power windows standard on both the Encore and the CX-3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Encore 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’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.

Keyless Access standard on the Encore 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’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The CX-3’s power window (except driver window) and power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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

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 CX-3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Encore owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Encore with a number “5” insurance rate while the CX-3 is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Encore is less expensive to operate than the CX-3 because it costs $55 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Encore than the CX-3, including $104 less for a starter, $260 less for fuel injection, $28 less for front struts and $70 less for a power steering pump.

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 has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Encore

CX-3

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

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

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