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A blue 2019 Buick Encore is parked on a city street.

Should You Pick the Buick Encore or the Mini Countryman?

I’m not going to lie: the name “Mini Countryman” sounds like something out of a strange fairy tale or a Saturday morning cartoon to me. I hear it and I picture some sort of tiny man, dressed in overalls and wearing a straw hat, exploring a distant countryside – perhaps riding a friendly mouse companion that he saved from a perilous situation. But that’s not what this is about – this is about comparing the 2019 Buick Encore vs 2019 Mini Countryman SUVs to see what they have to offer.

Distractions about Lilliputian rural gentlemen aside, both the Buick Encore and the Mini Countryman have a lot to offer. They are similar in size and both seat 5 people comfortably and safely. The 2019 Buick Encore, however, offers some impressive features and great luxury options that do push it a bit ahead. There are quite a few different models of the 2019 Mini Countryman available, but when you take the baseline model and go head-to-head with the Encore, the Buick certainly comes out on top.

But don’t just take my word for it – I’m the guy who spends his time thinking about minuscule men roaming a pastoral landscape (that’s the last time I’ll mention that, promise). Keep reading and see how they stack up. Oh, and to keep things simple and fair, I’m going to stick to the basic Mini Countryman, not any of the other similarly named models, though we will consider the different trim levels of both SUVs.

The Engines

The 2019 Buick Encore has two different engines available, depending on trim level, while the 2019 Mini Countryman has only one. The starting engine in the Encore is a 1.4L DOHC Turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that offers up to 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. To be fair, that’s certainly not amazing performance, but this is a small SUV after all so you’re not going to get a ton of power here. Still, if you want more, then there is an available 1.4L SIDI Turbo Engine that provides up to 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque for better performance.

By comparison, the 2019 Mini Countryman has a 1.5L 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine that provides up to 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. As you can see, that’s pretty comparable to the starting engine in the 2019 Buick Encore, even offering a bit more torque. But it falls short compared to the available upgrade from Buick. While there are more powerful engines available on different Countryman models – there are also more powerful engines available with other SUVs from Buick.

Interior Options

People always say, “It’s what’s on the inside that matters,” and that is not a bad approach to take when looking at two different vehicles. Considering Buick’s reputation for luxury and sophistication, you’d expect the inside of the Encore to live up to it. And you would be correct. To see the best of what these two vehicles have to offer, let’s look at their top trim levels.

The 2019 Buick Encore Essence features an 8-inch Infotainment system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, QuietTuning with active noise cancellation, and heated driver and front passenger seats. It has 6-way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats, a driver memory seat, and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. There is also a 4-inch driver information screen, remote start, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

A closeup of a woman's hands on her 2019 Buick Encore steering wheel, which has more features when comparing the 2019 Buick Encore vs 2019 Mini Countryman.

By contrast, the 2019 Mini Countryman Iconic trim level features an 8-inch media display with Apple CarPlay compatibility. It has leatherette details throughout and heated front seats along with a leather steering wheel. Overall, the interior of the Mini Countryman is fine; it simply lacks a lot of the refinement and sophistication found inside the 2019 Buick Encore.

Safety Features

When looking at two different vehicles, safety features are of the utmost importance to me. Always have been, always will be. So let’s see how these two compare – again looking at their highest trim levels. Keep in mind that other trim levels for these two SUVs might have fewer safety features and options available.

The 2019 Buick Encore Essence has 10 airbags, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, and StabiliTrak with electronic stability and traction control. It has a rear vision camera, as you would expect, and turn-signal indicators on the outside mirrors. The Encore also has an auto-dimming rearview mirror to help prevent being blinded by outside glare at night.

On the other hand, the 2019 Mini Countryman Iconic includes rear park distance control and active driver assistant. It has eight airbags and dynamic traction control, along with a head-up display that lets you keep your eyes on the road. While I admit the head-up display is a nice touch, sadly lacking in the Encore, otherwise, I would say the 2019 Buick Encore Essence has a superior suite of safety features.

Cargo Capacity and Fuel Economy

Any time you look at SUVs, there are two things that will usually be on your mind: how much can you load up inside it and how often do you have to stop for gas? SUVs are a great choice for a lot of people because the interior cargo capacity lets you load it up like a small pickup truck or a van, without sacrificing potential passenger space or luxury. For decades, SUVs have been notorious gas guzzlers – but manufacturers have been working hard to improve SUV fuel economy as much as possible. So how do these two models stack up?

To get a sense of size, the 2019 Buick Encore is about 168 inches long and 65 inches tall, so it’s definitely a small SUV that can pretty easily fit into just about any lifestyle. It offers up to 48.4 cu.ft. of interior cargo space behind the front seats while giving the front row more than 40 inches of legroom and nearly 40 inches of headroom. Optimal fuel economy for the Encore is up to an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, when using the 1.4L Turbo engine with stop/start technology.

By comparison, the 2019 Mini Countryman is just over 169 inches long and 61 inches tall – so it’s about the same length but is actually a few inches shorter. The Countryman offers up to just over 47 cu.ft. of interior cargo space, so it has slightly less room inside for loading up than the Buick Encore. It offers pretty much the same leg room and head room as the Encore, so overall they are pretty comparable in terms of size – but you can pack more into the Encore. The Mini Countryman gets an estimated combined 27 mpg in the city and on the highway, so if you are doing a lot of highway driving, then the Encore is likely to need filling-up less often.

What’s it All Mean?

So, point by point, what do we have? Ultimately, the 2019 Buick Encore really does come out on top – with a more powerful engine option, more luxurious interior design and features, better safety options, and a bit more room inside for cargo while providing better fuel economy. Not to mention the fact that it runs about $4,000 less than the Mini Countryman – this is true when you compare starting models and the price difference only grows at the highest trim levels. So you get more, for less, with the 2019 Buick Encore.

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