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A blue 2022 Buick Encore GX is shown from the side driving on an open road.

Putting the “YOU” in SUV: The 2022 Buick Encore GX vs 2022 Hyundai Kona

Dynamite comes in small packages, just as Road Runner or Wile E. Coyote will tell you. But we’re not really talking about literal dynamite here. We’re using it as a figure of speech that means even small things can pack a heavy punch. That’s the spirit of this comparison between two of the best-selling subcompact SUVs in America today: the 2022 Buick Encore GX vs 2022 Hyundai Kona.

The Encore GX and the Kona might be small in size, but they more than make up for it with their responsive handling, maneuverability, and efficiency. They’re powerful and fun to drive, but they won’t cost you a fortune to fill up with fuel. They’re also spacious and laden with technology, both of which add to their attractiveness. So, which one is better? Buick’s reputation for luxury leads this race as the Encore GX proves to offer the best bang for your buck.

#1 – Value

The 2022 Encore GX starts at $25,995 compared to the 2022 Hyundai Kona that starts at $21,150. While the Kona has a lower starting price than the Encore GX, this isn’t a reflection of the value that the models offer. To know exactly what you’re getting for your money requires a closer look at what each entry-level SUV has to offer for its starting price.

For the Encore GX, the Select starts the lineup at $25,955 and immediately impresses with its 1.3-liter turbocharged engine and continuously variable transmission that effortlessly balances power and efficiency. The entry-level SUV comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display, a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Buick also gives you plenty of standard safety features, from the standard high-definition rear vision camera to the Buick Driver Confidence Package that’s standard on every trim.

The Encore GX Select adds even more value when you look at its comfort and convenience features. Inside, you’ll find automatic dual-zone climate control that ensures everyone’s comfort in the cabin. The heated front seats are an extra perk for you and your co-pilot. The Select also comes standard with a remote vehicle starter system, which means you can get the SUV warmed up and ready to go before you leave the house in the morning.

You won’t find as many luxury or convenience features on the 2022 Hyundai Kona, nor will you enjoy the same level of power and performance from the engine. The SE’s lower starting price of $21,150 proves that you get what you pay for. While the Kona comes standard with an 8-inch color touchscreen display like the Buick, heated seats and remote start are only options on top-tier trims, and that means spending more money.

A red 2022 Hyundai Kona is shown from the side driving on a city street.

#2 – Standard Power

Standard power is another category where the 2022 Encore GX takes the lead against the 2022 Kona. Buick’s subcompact SUV is fun to drive, and that’s because it’s quick to accelerate and easy to maneuver. This quickness and agility come from the 1.3-liter turbocharged engine under the hood.

The Encore GX’s 1.3-liter turbo engine delivers 155 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 174 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm. It’s versatile enough that it can be mated to a continuously variable transmission or a 9-speed automatic transmission, the latter of which is available on all-wheel-drive models. How does this compare to the Kona?

The Kona doesn’t offer as much standard power as the Encore GX, and you’ll find the power you do get comes at higher rpms. The Kona comes standard with a 2.0-liter engine that’s mated to an intelligent variable automatic transmission, which is the only option for this entry-level engine. This combination delivers just 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

The Encore GX has an obvious advantage over the Kona simply by looking at horsepower (155 hp vs 147 hp) and torque (174 lb-ft vs 132 lb-ft). The less obvious difference is the rpms at which this power and torque are delivered. The Encore GX has a higher horsepower rating at lower rpms, which means it delivers a higher amount of torque faster than the Kona. This makes the Encore GX quicker to accelerate and a better overall performer.

#3 – Versatility

Buick encourages you to celebrate spontaneity and find the extraordinary in the ordinary by outfitting the Encore GX with one of the most versatile cabins and cargo areas in the segment. The Encore GX is designed to meet all the demands of your life, whether you’re taking a road trip with friends, running errands in town, or hauling the kids to soccer practice. The Encore GX is there for it all.

Spacious, luxurious, and functional, the Encore GX offers 50.2 cubic feet of cargo volume with 60/40 split-folding rear seats to maximize interior cabin space. You’ll find the flat-folding front passenger seat gives you the room needed to haul longer items like lumber, fishing poles, and other gear. The rear cargo area floor is also reconfigurable and adds 2.7 inches to its height, which means more room to haul taller items.

The Hyundai Kona isn’t an ideal option if you’re looking for versatility in terms of hauling cargo. While the Kona offers 60/40 split-folding rear seats, that’s the extent of what you can configure in the Kona’s cabin. This means you’re limited to the SUV’s 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space since the Kona doesn’t offer a flat-folding front passenger seat or a configurable floor for additional room. While this may not seem like a significant difference now, it makes a huge difference when you’re playing Tetris with luggage, camping gear, backpacks, groceries, and other items.

A white 2022 Buick Encore GX is shown from the front after winning a 2022 Buick Encore GX vs 2022 Hyundai Kona comparison.

We’re Looking at You, Buick!

Buick shook things up when it bid farewell to its sedans in exchange for an SUV-exclusive lineup. The separation between Dodge and Ram in 2009 had already proven that an automaker that focuses on what it does best can reinvigorate a brand. It turns out the same can be said for Buick as it focused on putting the “you” back in the SUV.

That focus is apparent when you compare models like the 2022 Encore GX with the 2022 Hyundai Kona. Buick’s reputation for offering affordable luxury sets the stage for the Encore GX, and fortunately, the subcompact SUV doesn’t disappoint. While its starting price is slightly higher than the Hyundai, there’s something to be said for the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

Your money is well spent on the Buick because the automaker truly designed the Encore GX with you in mind. Buick knows that you work hard for your money, and that’s why they went to great lengths to ensure the Encore GX is an exceptional value. That’s easy to see when you compare the entry-level Encore GX Select with the entry-level Kona SE. You’ll see it in the power that the Encore GX delivers with its standard engine, which makes it quicker to accelerate and respond.

The decision ultimately comes down to your needs and preferences. The 2022 Encore GX is a great investment and comes from a reliable automaker with a strong reputation for delivering versatile and luxurious vehicles. How much does this reputation matter to you, and are you willing to spend a little extra on a premium SUV that’s built specifically with you in mind? That’s a question you will have to answer for yourself.