2021 Kia Sportage vs. 2021 Buick Encore GX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Sportage’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Encore GX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Sportage and the Encore GX 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 all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sportage the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 35 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Encore GX has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The Sportage comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Encore GX’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Sportage 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Buick covers the Encore GX. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Encore GX ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Sportage has a standard 140-amp alternator (150-amp - Sportage SX Turbo AWD). The Encore GX’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage second among compact suvs in their 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Encore GX 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 Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia first in initial quality, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 7th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 9 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

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The Sportage has more powerful engines than the Encore GX:

Horsepower

Torque

Sportage 2.4 DOHC 4-cylinder

181 HP

175 lbs.-ft.

Sportage SX Turbo 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

237 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Sportage SX Turbo 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

240 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Encore GX 1.2 turbo 3-cylinder

137 HP

162 lbs.-ft.

Encore GX 1.3 turbo 3-cylinder

155 HP

174 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Sportage has 3.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Encore GX (16.4 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Sportage LX/S/EX

Sportage SX Turbo

Encore GX

Front Rotors

12 inches

12.6 inches

11.81 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

10.39 inches

The Sportage stops shorter than the Encore GX:

Sportage

Encore GX

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Sportage SX Turbo’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Encore GX (245/45R19 vs. 225/55R18).

The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Encore GX’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sportage SX Turbo has standard 19-inch wheels. The Encore GX’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the Kia Sportage has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Buick Encore GX has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Sportage has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Sportage flat and controlled during cornering. The Encore GX’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sportage’s wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer than on the Encore GX (105.1 inches vs. 102.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Sportage is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Encore GX.

For better maneuverability, the Sportage’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Encore GX’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Passenger Space

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The Sportage has .6 inches more front legroom, 2.4 inches more front hip room, 1.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom, 3.7 inches more rear hip room and 1.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore GX.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Sportage’s rear seats recline. The Encore GX’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Encore GX with its rear seat up (30.7 vs. 23.5 cubic feet). The Sportage has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Encore GX with its rear seat folded (60.1 vs. 50.2 cubic feet).

Towing

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The Sportage’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Encore GX’s (2000 vs. 1000 pounds).

Ergonomics

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Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the Sportage to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Encore GX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Sportage (except S/LX) keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Encore GX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the Sportage and the Encore GX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Sportage has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Encore GX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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 Kia Sportage has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Sportage

Encore GX

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

n/a

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