If you’re in the market for a new car, you’ve probably already started the early phases of research. The process is usually the same, you jump around websites for a couple of days, maybe even a week or two, just looking at all sorts of different vehicles. Eventually, you’ll probably have a short list of vehicles that you like, often times made up of similar models from competing brands. The remainder of the process is fairly straightforward, just eliminating things from the list one by one until you’re left with just two. At least for me, this is always the most difficult part. Every time I end up with two competing cars of the same type, stuck sifting through mountains of information in order to get an idea of which would suit me better. If you’re interested in compact SUVs, no matter how close you are to your decision, I can help you skip right to that final step. I found the two compact SUVs this year that I deemed most worthy, and after I’ve pitted them against each other in a blockbuster event that I’ve dubbed “ 2018 Ford EcoSport vs. 2018 Buick Encore: Dawn of Justice,” then I will have hopefully helped you reach a satisfying conclusion, unlike a recent film with a coincidentally similar title.
Performance & Efficiency
2018 Ford EcoSport
The 2018 Ford EcoSport comes standard with a 1.0L EcoBoost direct injection engine that won the “Best Engine Under 1.0-Liter” award from Engine Technology International magazine. For the kind of car it is, you’ll be surprised by its power once you’re behind the wheel. Its fuel economy is up to par as well, boasting an estimated 27/29 MPG in the city and on the highway respectively, and with the Auto Start-Stop Technology that is quickly becoming a standard in newer vehicles, the EcoSport should noticeably reduce your trips to the gas station.
2018 Buick Encore
The 2018 Buick Encore is a very similar ride, to be quite honest. Direct injection, available Stop/Start options, the Encore’s 1.4L turbo engine is by no means something to scoff at. My only concern is that it may not be a big enough difference from the EcoSport, and with a $3,000 starting price gap, if that difference is worth the cost disparity.
Interior & Technology
2018 Ford EcoSport
If you’ve looked at cars recently, you’ve probably noticed a heavy increase in modern technologies being integrated into dashboards. The EcoSport is no exception, and you may already be familiar with the SYNC 3 information and entertainment system which it uses to bring top-notch connectivity to your high-speed life. I cannot sing enough praise for the SYNC 3 system. It’s been around since 2016, but that’s got to be because no one has been able to top it. If you’ve seen older versions of the system you’ll be wildly impressed with the improvements that have been made to the technology, and the screen resolution on the 2018 EcoSport specifically is notably better than even other SYNC 3 systems in earlier cars. Its touchscreen is responsive and easy to use, and it’s got apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that allow you to use your phone not only hands-free but eyes free as well. You can even control supported smart home devices and access your shopping lists, or use the internet while parked with an available SYNC Connect Wi-Fi hotspot, giving you connectivity like never before. The fact that I can ask my car to do things for me makes me feel like Tony Stark (or David Hasselhoff, depending on how you feel about Knight Rider).
Plenty of cars have SYNC 3, though, and while it’s definitely the top of the line when it comes to entertainment systems, it’s not the only thing worth mentioning inside the cabin of this year’s EcoSport. Offering a Bang and Olufsen signature sound system, the EcoSport can have up to ten speakers distributed throughout its interior, really making the most out of the aforementioned entertainment features. With a combination of both the entertainment and sound systems, you’ll never be bored in traffic again.
2018 Buick Encore
The Buick Infotainment System offers most of the same features offered by the SYNC 3 system. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto you can respond to texts or change your music without taking your hands off the wheel, and the usual built-in navigation means that even without your phone you’ll find your way home. I know it’s been mentioned already, but have to mention how much I love the fact that cars are starting to offer Wi-Fi hotspots because it really is an incredibly useful tool. It’s hard to complain when a friend is twenty minutes late to meet if you spent every one of those twenty minutes sitting watching The Office on Netflix, and things like waiting for roadside assistance are made significantly more bearable when you have that option.
Despite their nearly identical list of features, there are minor differences that set the two entertainment systems apart, unfortunately not in favor of the Encore. I hate to admit it, but the Buick Infotainment System has some minor bugs and response lag issues that just aren’t present in the SYNC 3. It’s a minor gripe, but there’s just something that puts me off about a delayed touchscreen reaction, and if our tiny phone screens can function seamlessly, why can’t our cars’? Additionally, the Ford+Alexa app and Smart Home integration provided by the EcoSport make it a pretty clear winner in this category.
Safety & Driver Assistance
2018 Ford EcoSport
All the modern innovations in safety technology are available for the EcoSport. The Blind Spot Information System alerts you when there are other drivers in your blind spot, and blinks at you if you try to move over anyway. Cross-Traffic Alert provides you with some nice little beeps when your vehicle comes to close to another, and the veritable butt-load of airbags throughout the car help to provide both peace of mind and a massive segmented wall of protective air, covering the windows pretty much entirely. Emergency brake assist is also available, though hopefully, you won’t need too much use from that feature.
2018 Buick Encore
The Buick Encore is once again nearly identical in its list of features when it comes to safety, with ten airbags, blind spot and collision alerts. However, the Encore doesn’t offer brake assist, instead, replacing it with a Lane Keep Assist system. I suppose that could either be a positive or a negative for the Encore, depending on which system you think you’d utilize more often. Either way, the 2018 Ford EcoSport and the 2018 Buick Encore are both pretty safe vehicles compared to a lot of other cars on the road right now.
Deciding on a new car can be a difficult choice to make. You’re choosing a place where you’ll likely spend many cumulative hours, not just by yourself but with friends and family as well. A person’s car becomes an intimate part of their life, whether they realize it or not, and a new car can often feel like the beginning of a new era. Hopefully, with all this information in mind, you’ll feel comfortable making an informed decision, and if not then I hope I’ve at least helped move along your decision-making process.