Crossovers and compact SUVs have grown increasingly popular over the years due to their excellent blend of functionality, power, and style. One maker that has done well in this part of the North American market is Buick with their luxury offering, the Buick Encore. The Encore has plenty to offer and really is a luxury crossover. But there are other crossovers that are often considered for one reason or another, and one of those is the Nissan Kicks. This version of the crossover SUV works well for budget-conscious consumers. But which of these two crossovers is really the better option? To get a better idea of where you would do well to put your hard-earned money, here is a comparison of the 2020 Buick Encore vs 2020 Nissan Kicks.
A Look at the Encore
The first thing you will notice about this segment of the SUV market is that crossovers come in relatively few trims. While many new cars, trucks and SUVs have literally dozens of models or trims with different engine configurations, the 2020 Buick Encore, and many other crossovers are relatively straightforward. For example, the Encore comes in only two different trims and either with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).
The Encore 1SV is the base model and comes with FWD and a 1.4L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine capable of generating 138 hp. This engine packs a punch and makes for a thrilling driving experience. In addition to its world-class performance, the 1SV comes with a litany of other great features too. It also has a very affordable price tag—especially for a luxury brand like Buick—of $23,200.
The only other trim is the Encore Preferred. This trim, too, has the 1.4L turbocharged engine and retails for $25,595. What makes the Encore Preferred such an exceptional crossover, is that it has so many outstanding advanced safety features and other technology goodies that build nicely off of the base model. The other factor that puts the Preferred on another level is that it comes in available AWD.
There is just something reassuring about the simplicity of the Encore trims. Only having a couple of choices to consider takes the pressure off of choosing which one is right for you and makes buying one easier than it is buying other models. But before we decide that this is the best choice, let’s look at the Kicks’ offerings.
A Kicks Overview
Nissan does have a little more variety with its crossover, the Nissan Kicks, which comes in three different trims starting with the Kicks S. What you will notice right away when you look at the Kicks base model is that it has a 1.6L DOHC 16 valve 4-cylinder engine that generates 122 hp, which is significantly lower than the Encore. While this engine would be absolutely fine in a smaller vehicle like a sedan or compact car, it leaves something to be desired with the Kicks.
The Kicks S also lacks many of the features drivers have come to expect out of their new vehicles, such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a fully connected infotainment system. However, the one redeeming quality of the Kicks S is that it is cheaper than many crossovers and starts at $18,870.
The second Kicks trim is the SV, which has a slightly higher price tag, starting at $20,500. The Kicks has the same engine as the S. One thing that makes the SV a shade better than the S is that it does come standard with many of the connectivity features, and it does have a full suite of safety technologies.
The third and final Kicks trim is the SR, which has the same, slightly disappointing engine and a lot of the same features as the other two trims. One of the reasons the SR is the premium Kicks trims is that it has intelligent engine brake and a few other valuable driver-assist features. The starting price for the SR is $21,120, which is cheaper even than the Encore’s base model. However, it is worth noting that the Kicks SR is a relatively bare-bones crossover and does not come with AWD and other features that are standard on the Encore’s premium trim, the Preferred.
The Outer Appearances
While both the Encore and the Kicks look somewhat similar, given they are both crossovers, there are some notable differences in their appearance. For one, the Encore is a luxury SUV and looks the part. Its smooth contours attract attention, and its athletic look is bold and striking. The wheels are larger than those on the Kicks too. While the Kicks comes standard with 16” wheels and can get as high as 17” on the SR, the 18” standard wheels sit the Encore higher up than the Kicks and if you opt for the Midnight Silver aluminum alloy wheels, they really shine.
On the Encore’s roof, the available moonroof makes for an even more enjoyable ride and truly sets it apart from the Kicks. Admittedly, the Kicks is not an ugly crossover; it just has a simpler, more basic look than the Encore. When that is combined with its somewhat sluggish performance, the Kicks starts to fade from the Encore in just about every way. If affordability is the only thing that matters to you, then the Kicks might be a decent option. However, the Encore has so many more features, superior performance, and a bolder look, that even with its slightly higher price tag, it represents the better value overall.
Inside the Competitors
Things are the same when it comes to the interior of the Encore and the Kicks. The cabin of the Encore offers a far quieter and smoother ride and an overall superior driving experience than that of the Nissan Kicks. In fact, it is Buick’s QuietTuning Technology replete with triple-seal doors, acoustic laminated front side windows, and an acoustic laminated windshield that give the Encore the edge. The Encore keeps out unwanted traffic noise so you can enjoy the crossover’s excellent sound system or conversation with your passengers.
The infotainment and navigation systems of the Encore are also better than the Kicks. The touchscreen is very large at 8” and is both vibrant and functional. Plus, in the back of the Encore, there is ample room for cargo, measuring at 48.4 cu.ft. while the Kicks only has just over 32 cu.ft. of space when the seats are folded down. Overall, with a more luxurious feel, better infotainment system, quieter ride, and more cargo area, the Encore beats out the Kicks in just about every way when it comes to the interior of both crossovers.
Ultra Luxury SUV vs. Tight Budget SUV
Any comparison of the 2020 Buick Encore vs the 2020 Nissan Kicks comes down to a comparison of ultra-luxury vs tight budget. The Kicks can be a fine crossover choice for those who do not have a lot of room in their budget, but in this case, you get what you pay for. The Encore has a superior look, a more powerful engine, and a better overall driving experience. Hands down, it is the better buy.