Urbanites are increasingly buying up SUVs to haul their families around. They’re forgoing the traditional sedan-style car that is easy to park and maneuver in favor of a vehicle with more room and cargo space. To give these urban consumers the best of both world’s (maneuverability and more space) automakers are placing a heavy emphasis on SUVs that offer great handling, gas mileage, and don’t look out of place in a bustling city. Two of these SUVs are the 2019 Buick Encore vs 2019 Nissan Kicks. Buick and Nissan created these SUVs to compete for the attention of drivers with aren’t necessarily planning to do any off-roading, but want a vehicle that can be loaded up and driven across town with ease and style.
Here’s a look at how the 2019 Buick Encore and the 2019 Nissan Kicks measure up:
Performance is a big deal for most people looking to buy an SUV. Traditionally, these vehicles have been powerhouses (and gas guzzlers). For those who didn’t need quite so much power for off-roading, especially those living in a city, it seemed like a waste to get an SUV that went through gas so voraciously. The 2019 Buick Encore and the 2019 Nissan Kicks are different types of SUVs. Without sacrificing maneuverability and speed, these SUVs focus on gas mileage instead of towing capacity, making them excellent daily drivers for any urbanite who might find themselves stuck in traffic. The Encore is more flexible in terms of performance, however, keeping it a step ahead of the Nissan and more customizable for buyers.
The 2019 Buick Encore comes standard with a perfectly serviceable turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. This is a good amount for a family who wants to use the Encore for daily driving and place a heavier emphasis on gas mileage over power. For those who do want a little more “oomph” out of their SUV, they can upgrade to either the Sport Touring or Essence trim to get the available 153 horsepower rated engine. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission and will keep even the most active family on the move. With the ability to upgrade to a more powerful engine, Encore buyers can customize their ride to suit. With FWD equipped, the Encore earns 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. Having AWD equipped only lowers expected mileage by 1 MPG. These are great estimates for its class.
Unfortunately, the 2019 Nissan Kicks doesn’t live up to either of the Encore’s engine’s power or adaptability. You only get a single engine option, and it’s less powerful than the Encore’s base engine. The sole powertrain is a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). This engine will get you around the city, but will have a difficult time standing up to highway driving. One compliment to the 2019 Nissan Kicks is its quiet cabin, however. A trait that many other CVTs lack. In this SUV you can expect to get an EPA-estimated 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway, which are excellent overall estimates.
Handling on an SUV is a big sticking point for many buyers. The vehicle can have all the nifty features and great gas mileage it wants, but if it’s difficult or dangerous feeling to drive, they might walk away. Unlike many SUVs of the past, both the 2019 Buick Encore and the 2019 Nissan Kicks have great reviews in terms of handling. They are especially well equipped to handle city driving and everything from potholes to maneuvering through traffic. The Encore takes it a step further again, in terms of customization.
As a daily driver, especially in an urban environment, the Encore will serve incredibly well. You’ll experience a smooth ride and very little body-lean when taking a sharp corner, so feel free to do the occasional U-turn! The Encore was built with a small footprint to make it easier to squeeze into tight parking spaces and through heavy traffic, all without sacrificing passenger room. If you’re planning on doing a little driving out of the city or live in an area with bad winters, you can opt for a new Encore in a higher trim level with AWD equipped to get extra strong handling.
Like the 2019 Buick Encore, the 2019 Nissan Kicks is excellent when driving in the city. What it’s missing is the ability to upgrade to AWD to add additional handling capability. Overall, the Kicks sails smoothly over rough pavement and potholes and is easy to maneuver around the city and into small parking places. You won’t be wowed by its overall performance, and other SUVs are more fun to drive, but if you’re a one-tone city driver, this SUV will do just fine.
Inside the 2019 Buick Encore you’ll find a quiet cabin that stays that way even when you reach highway speeds. There are plenty of soft-touch materials and some upscale plastics to keep passengers comfortable no matter where the road takes you. Some people may not find the dash to be the most aesthetically pleasing with its numerous buttons, but for functionality it wins. The Encore also holds its own in terms of cargo space, despite its small footprint and comfortable passenger seating. The Encore has about 19 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, enough to hold more than a dozen grocery bags at one time. To get some more room for bulkier items like suitcases or sporting equipment folds down the rear seats to create a total of 48 cubic feet. For longer items, just fold down the front passenger seat!
Design is one area that the 2019 Nissan Kicks scores highly. The inside of the cabin is full of sleek, modern features, though there are a few hard plastics tucked around. You won’t mistake the 2019 Nissan Kicks’ interior for that of a luxury vehicle, but you will feel classy riding about. Like the Encore, the Kicks does a good job of stuffing in lots of cargo room, despite the small footprint designed for city driving. You’ll find 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 53.1 cubic feet when you fold them down.
Technology is a big plus in these smaller SUVs and a requirement for many urban drivers used to the best technology in their lives. Neither the 2019 Buick Encore or the 2019 Nissan Kicks disappoints in this category.
In the Encore, you’ll find great standard features like a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, and the Buick IntelliLink infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, dual USB ports, and Bluetooth. Something special that stands out in the SUV marketplace is the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard features. Available features include navigation, a Bose seven-speaker sound system, and the myBuick App. The myBuick app lets owners remotely lock and unlock the SUV’s doors, start the engine, and check tire pressure.
In the 2019 Nissan Kicks, standard features include a 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, three USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, and a six-speaker sound system. Available upgrades in the technology category include the NissanConnect infotainment system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system. Many of these features come standard in the Encore, but aren’t standard features you’d find in many other SUVs on the market.
Regardless of where your brand loyalty lies, either of these vehicles would make a great addition to your family. Personally, we like the Terrain a little more for the upscale feel and powerful engine but give both of them a look and see which will best suit your needs.