What is it about the underdog that makes us want to cheer for them? We all love a story about the unlikely hero who rises from obscurity to challenge conceptions of what we think a champion is. The Rocky Balboa of this story isn’t a sports hero or celebrity, but rather an institution of Americana––Buick. If the automotive industry was one akin to prizefighting, Buick would be the grizzled veteran, someone whose scars are plentiful, but they always show up ready, willing, and able to duke it out with whatever contender decides to climb into the ring. Formed in 1903, Buick has been around since the earliest days of the industry and has continued to persevere as part of the GM brand. If Buick is the grizzled veteran, then Toyota is a fighter of the next generation. While Toyota made its way stateside in the 1950s, long after Buick had been established, they’ve done everything possible to ascend to the top of the mountain. No matter what criticism one chooses to make about the Japanese-based brand, it’s more than apparent that its success is deserved. Today, these two titans of industry go head-to-head as we examine the 2022 Buick Encore GX vs 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross. Will Buick hold their own, or will the upstart usurp the crown? There’s only one way to find out.
Edging Over the Competition
Due to their immense popularity and their reputation as the ideal vehicle for the family-oriented consumer, the SUV market has become competitive, with manufacturers struggling to provide a better product at an ideal price. Buick and Toyota both had their work cut out for them as they went ahead with designing their respective offerings. For Toyota, the leading advantage was name recognition, as the Corolla Cross shares the same name as Toyota’s highly popular sedan. Toyota’s subcompact SUV is also one of the more inexpensive on the market, with an MSRP of only $22,195, underbidding similar offerings from other brands. Between name recognition and a low price, Toyota shows its willingness to compete.
Don’t count the underdog out just yet; Buick has been through the most tumultuous of storms and risen to fight another day. While the MSRP of $25,800 isn’t competing with Toyota in the price wars, it still underbids its competition in the niche market of luxury-oriented SUVs. Costing considerably less than offerings from Volvo, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, Buick places an emphasis on posh comfort to compete with the European brands. Stepping into the cabin and behind the wheel of the Encore GX transports the driver into a luxurious environment with heated seats and a leather interior, and it doesn’t break the bank by doing so.
Compared to the Toyota Corolla Cross’s interior, which bears all the same hallmarks as the sedan of the same name, Buick offers more for comfort. Even at its very best, Toyota can only offer up faux-leather seats and only on the upper trim levels, which detracts from the overall appeal of Toyota’s newest offering. The Corolla Cross has all the trappings of a product that’s mass-produced for practicality, with refinement being all too conspicuous by its absence. For the driver who spends 40 hours of their week in a cubicle, the Corolla Cross feels like a mere extension of this existence and not an escape from it.
Even the exterior design of both vehicles seems to come from two very opposite schools of thought. The Buick Encore GX models itself after some of the higher-end SUVs that it’s competing against. Despite our best intentions, we are a society that is both driven by and conscious of our appearances. We often think of the vehicles we drive as an extension of our personality, and the Buick Encore GX manages to exude sophistication inside and out. If the exterior design of the Buick Encore GX is refined with a touch of class, then the Toyota Corolla Cross bears a likeness to everything else that’s available on the market. With very little to set it apart from the competitors, Toyota has cornered the market on the term “basic.”
The modern SUV is known for being reliable and economical, which might come as a surprise to someone who was cryogenically frozen during the late 1990s. Imagine waking up today to find SUVs powered by 4-cylinder engines and drivetrains that didn’t need to carry a lot of weight? Fainting might ensure. Hypothetical scenarios aside, both Toyota and Buick are close to being evenly matched in this contest when it comes to competing in the field of performance and efficiency. Both vehicles offer engines that are slimmed down and have similar drive trains.
For Toyota, the engine of choice is a 2.0L 4-cylinder. With considerable effort on the part of the manufacturer, 4 cylinders are enough for the Corolla Cross, which generates a reasonable force of 169 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Not to be outdone, Buick has equipped the Encore GX with a turbocharged 1.3L 3-cylinder engine, which generates 155 horsepower and an impressive 174 lb-ft of torque. Introduced for the Buick Encore GX in 2020, it’s an efficient and modern engine. While Toyota has only equipped its SUV with the ever-popular CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission), Buick gives customers the choice between a CVT and an electrically controlled 9-speed automatic transmission.
Both vehicles are highly efficient when it comes to fuel economy and saving the average consumer a few pennies at the pump. The Encore GX and Corolla Cross average around 30-32 MPG combined. Both manufacturers have an eye for practicality, with Buick providing its loyal customers with affordable luxury. Buick also understands the modern family’s need for extra space for those days when the number of groceries is slightly larger than the norm. By folding down the rear 60/40-split seats, the Encore GX more than doubles its cargo space to 50.2 cubic feet of room.
After careful examination and witnessing the two contenders go toe-to-toe with one another, a final decision from the officials at ringside must be rendered with a level of analytical expertise and objectivity. We’ve looked at their inner workings and aesthetics and have come to a few conclusions. Both vehicles are practical in the sense that they’re priced competitively, have engines that are capable and fuel-efficient, and will make dealing with the day-to-day ordeal known as life easier to deal with.
However, the Buick Encore GX is an oasis in a vast desert of compact SUV offerings from other competitors. Unlike so many brands, which only offer practicality and keep luxury items out of reach, Buick makes both easily accessible to the average income and delivers in every area necessary for the average consumer. Beyond that, when others are reserving high-end comfort for the upper trims, Buick has set out to offer the amenities that so many crave at a mere fraction of the cost.
While there’s no shortage of SUVs to be found these days, the Buick Encore GX is an underdog and a real contender. Whether you’re looking for an upgrade or just want to stand out among the status quo, it’s time to get behind the wheel of a Buick and get in the ring.