The small SUV is one of the best all-around vehicles you can buy. Combining the footprint and fuel economy of a car with the versatility and bad-weather performance of an SUV, it is little wonder that more and more manufacturers are introducing vehicles in this segment. But in this sea of new models, there are two tried and true vehicles that have been on the market for the better part of a decade. Comparing the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Buick Encore, you will find a pair of small SUVs that define that class of vehicle. Deciding between the two can be difficult because they share the same platform and many of the same features. However, Chevrolet has done a better job keeping its offering up to date, and the 2020 Chevy Trax offers both more options and a lower price point.
SUVs from the Ground Up
Something to be aware of when shopping for small SUVs is that many vehicles described as such are really just hatchbacks with a bit more ground clearance. Fortunately, this is not the case with either the 2020 Chevy Trax and 2020 Buick Encore. Both of them are proper SUVs with upright seating positions, large cargo areas, and good performance in bad weather. And while they may not be the best off-road vehicles ever built, you will never be afraid to take one off the pavement. Because the two vehicles share a platform, a mechanical comparison of the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Buick Encore will find few significant differences. Both of them offer almost 40” of headroom, over 48 cubic feet of cargo space (noticeably more than many other vehicles in this segment), and surprisingly responsive turbo-charged engines with 148 lb-ft of torque.
However, while the differences between them may be small, they do exist. The 2020 Chevy Trax is available with both fog lights and skid plates, giving it slightly better SUV credentials and making it the superior choice in poor visibility or on unpaved roads. The 2020 Chevy Trax also offers a touch better fuel economy, averaging about one mile per gallon more than the 2020 Buick Encore. However, the 2020 Buick Encore does have some of its own advantages, including standard four-wheel disc brakes on all versions. While this useful feature is found on the all-wheel drive versions of the 2020 Chevy Trax, the front-wheel drive version has rear drum brakes. Still, overall a mechanical comparison of the two vehicles puts the 2020 Chevy Trax slightly in the lead.
The close battle between the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Buick Encore continues in the comparison between their interior features. Given the low price point of these two small SUVs, they actually offer a surprising level of both standard and optional features. On both the 2020 Chevy Trax and the 2020 Buick Encore, you will have the option of remote start, push button start, four express-down windows, a power sunroof, and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. While they do have some limitations, such as lacking automatic climate control or a power-adjustable passenger’s seat, overall, they can both be very comfortable rides. However, the 2020 Chevy Trax has some advantages. Unlike the 2020 Buick Encore, the 2020 Chevy Trax has the option of heated seats––a vital feature for drivers in cold climates. And further enhancing its more adventurous nature, the 2020 Chevy Trax also comes standard with an eight-point digital compass for navigating in unfamiliar areas.
But the largest differences in the interiors of two vehicles are found in their infotainment systems. While the 2020 Buick Encore comes with an 8” color touchscreen and a 4.2” driver information center, the 2020 Chevy Trax only has a 7” color touchscreen and a 3.5” driver information center. However, this victory for the 2020 Buick Encore is undermined by that vehicle’s audio system. Although both SUVs come with a standard six-speaker setup, only the 2020 Chevy Trax offers the option of upgrading to a seven-speaker Bose sound system. If you are a fan of listening to music or the radio when you are driving, then you will probably enjoy better sound quality more than a slightly larger screen.
The software behind the infotainment systems in the two vehicles is fairly similar and shares most of the same features. While neither has the option of built-in navigation, both of them are fully compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This allows you to seamlessly link your phone to the vehicle’s infotainment system for calls, music, and a variety of apps. Further, both vehicles also include SiriusXM satellite radio and a 4G LTE wireless hotspot to ensure that you will have access to entertainment and internet, no matter where you are. However, the 2020 Chevy Trax has a small edge when it comes to keeping your electronic devices charged and ready to go––on top of the usual 12-volt outlet and USB ports, the 2020 Chevy Trax also comes with a 120-volt three-prong power outlet standard on most trims. While there is an available 120-volt outlet on the 2020 Buick Encore as well, on that vehicle, it is only an option on the top trim.
Although the numerous small exterior and interior advantages of the 2020 Chevy Trax put it ahead of the 2020 Buick Encore, when it comes to safety features, the Trax is hands-down the winner. Because the two vehicles have a shared platform, their crash test ratings are, of course, identical. But while both the 2020 Chevy Trax and 2020 Buick Encore have excellent safety in the event of an accident, the 2020 Chevy Trax has much a larger number of available advanced safety technologies that can enable it to avoid a crash entirely. Further, the technologies available on the 2020 Buick Encore are only options, while those on the 2020 Chevy Trax come standard on some trims.
The only crash-avoidance features you will find on the 2020 Buick Encore are rear cross-traffic alert and side blind zone alert. These are both valuable features for improving your awareness of the traffic around you, but their usefulness in preventing anything more than fender-benders is limited. In comparison, the 2020 Chevy Trax has both of those systems as well as forward collision alert and lane departure warning. These additional systems reduce the risk of more dangerous types of accidents, such as rear-end collisions and driving off the road. The 2020 Chevy Trax also has rear park assist, which prevents the single most common type of accident––backing into something in a parking lot or driveway.
The Bottom Line
While both of these small SUVs stand out from the competition and make for excellent vehicles, for the 2020 model year, the Chevy Trax comes out ahead. Although its many advantages may appear small when compared individually, when added together, the result is a far more comfortable and capable package. And not only does the 2020 Chevy Trax offer more features than the 2020 Buick Encore, it does so at a lower price. Starting at an MSRP of $21,300, the 2020 Chevy Trax costs noticeably less than the $23,200 tag on the 2020 Buick Encore. With that value for your money, the outcome of comparing the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Buick Encore is clear.