There are so many SUVs of all shapes and sizes on the market today.; it seems like every company that builds cars also puts out a line of SUVs. With so many different vehicles with so many different names, shapes, sizes, and designs that it can get really confusing for a consumer. To combat this, some automakers have striven to differentiate their products from those of their competitors. This is where Buick and Mazda come in. Both have created an excellent, luxury subcompact SUV that is fun to drive, dependable, and affordable, the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Mazda CX-30.
When you compare the two, you see two excellent vehicles that provide their drivers with great value, plenty of cargo space, comfortable interiors, and room enough for you and up to four other passengers. Each is front-wheel drive standard with all-wheel drive available as an option. The front-wheel drivetrain provides excellent traction and fuel economy, while all-wheel drive might be preferable if you live in a more temperate climate with snow and ice. These are two exceptional vehicles, but there are some clear differences between them that we will explore below.
Trim Levels and MSRP
The 2020 Buick Encore has two trim choices to choose from, while the 2020 Mazda CX-30 offers four. The 2020 Mazda CX-30 also has a lower base MSRP for its entry trim. However, the 2020 Buick Encore actually offers a better overall price to value ratio. The entry trim on the Encore is the 1SV with a base MSRP of $23,200. By contrast, the entry Mazda CX-30 has a base MSRP of $21,900. However, this trim comes really stripped, and you need to spring for the next trim, the Select Package with an MSRP of $23,900, to get a model with comparable features to the Buick Encore 1SV.
The same thing happens if you are looking to buy your subcompact SUV loaded with all the various safety features and creature comforts. The top-of-the-line 2020 Buick Encore Preferred has a base MSRP of $25,595. This has everything you are looking for, from a leather-wrapped steering wheel to premium LED lighting. With the CX-30, you have to spring for the Premium Package at an MSRP of $28,200. There is the Mazda CX-30 Preferred Package at an MSRP of $26,200, but this does not have all the features and items as the Premium Package. So, as you can see, the price point favors the 2020 Buick Encore.
Performance and Powertrains
Likely a big reason you’re buying a luxury subcompact SUV is that you love to drive. The best vehicles in this class are fun to drive, with the handling of a compact car and the power of an SUV. The 2020 Mazda CX-30 features a larger engine than the 2020 Buick Encore, so it has slightly more power but at the cost of maneuverability. The CX-30 has a 104.5-inch wheelbase compared to the Encore’s 100.6-inch wheelbase, and it really shows. The CX-30 just doesn’t corner as well as the Encore. You are also going to feel this when you are parking in a tight space. The Encore is going to be easier to parallel park than the CX-30, a big issues if you live in an urban area.
Each of these vehicles has only one engine option. The 2020 Buick Encore comes equipped with a 1.4-liter DOHC Turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine. This is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission to produce 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. This is a very efficient engine despite its small size and is incredibly quick as a result of its turbocharger. The 2020 Mazda CX-30 has a larger engine, a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder gas engine with variable valve timing to improve engine efficiency. This works with a SKYACTIV-Drive3 6-speed automatic transmission to produce 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. And while it is bigger and stronger than the engine on the Encore, it really doesn’t translate to better performance due to the aforementioned lack of maneuverability.
When you buy a luxury subcompact SUV, you are probably concerned that the vehicle is fuel-efficient. Both of these SUVs have exceptional fuel economy. The 2020 Buick Encore with front-wheel drive gets an excellent 25 MPG in the city, 30 MPG on the highway, and 27 MPG combined. If you choose to go with all-wheel drive, the gas mileage figures drop slightly to 24 MPG in the city, 29 MPG on the highway, and 26 MPG combined.
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 with a front-wheel drivetrain does slightly better, probably as a result of its engine’s variable valve timing. The estimated fuel economy on a CX-30 with front-wheel drive is 25 MPG in city driving, 33 MPG in highway driving, and a combined 28 MPG. However, if you opt for the 2020 Mazda CX-30 with all-wheel drive, the fuel economy will be slightly worse than that on the all-wheel drive Buick Encore, 25 MPG in the city, 32 MPG on the highway, and 27 MPG combined. The differences here are so minute that the two competitors are on even ground in this area.
One thing that sets today’s vehicles apart from those of the past is infotainment. These systems integrate the vehicle’s key informational systems with the entertainment features as well as connectivity. People just don’t feel safe out there on the roads today without being connected to the outside world. If they can’t use their smartphones to stay connected, they feel lost.
The best infotainment systems do an exceptional job of linking your smartphones and other devices to the system while also integrating the other features seamlessly on a user-friendly color touchscreen. Both the 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Mazda CX-30 feature their manufacturer’s respective infotainment systems. The Encore has the Buick Infotainment System on an 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen. The CX-30 comes with the Mazda Connect Infotainment System on an 8.8-inch large color center display.
While the Mazda system is slightly larger, the Buick system actually comes with more features on the base model Encore. All models of the Encore come with Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Siri Eyes Free and Natural Voice Recognition, USB ports, OnStar and Buick Connected Access capabilities, a 6-speaker audio system, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, and SiriusXM satellite radio. This means that you get the full system no matter which trim you buy on the Encore, including the chance to try out SiriusXM satellite radio before deciding to continue the subscription.
Unfortunately, if you want all the features on the Mazda CX-30, you will have to spring for the Preferred Package trim level. The base model CX-30 only features Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, an 8-speaker audio system with Mazda Harmonic Acoustics, Mazda Connected Services, Pandora internet radio integration, and an HD radio. The Select Package adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but only the Preferred Package and Premium Package come with a three-month trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio. In all, the Buick has much more to offer from the get-go, making it the superior vehicle in this area.
One Last Look
The 2020 Buick Encore and the 2020 Mazda CX-30 are both excellent luxury subcompact SUVs. They are both exceptionally fun to drive, and each has plenty of features to keep you entertained while you are driving them. However, in this comparison, it is the Encore that should be the one coming out for a curtain call and taking a bow with its fantastic maneuverability, fuel economy, and features.