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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A black 2019 Buick Encore is on a tree lined trail.

For Off-Roading, the Buick Encore Tops the Ford EcoSport

Part of the appeal of a sport utility vehicle or crossover is that you can take these impressive vehicles just about anywhere. While they might not be able to tackle the most demanding trails out there, a good SUV should be able to go off road and get you where you’re going safely. A small SUV is a particularly good choice for this since they can handle narrow passages and roads better than a full-size option, so I thought I would look at the 2019 Buick Encore vs 2019 Ford EcoSport and see which is better.

With a name that has the word “sport” in it, you would expect the Ford EcoSport to be a great choice for some off-roading. Overall, however, I would say the 2019 Buick Encore is a better option that gives you terrific luxury features with the grit to handle rough terrain. You can get more torque with the Encore, which provides you with more power to get uphill or haul a trailer or light camper behind you.

The fact that the 2019 Buick Encore has an entire trim level clearly designed for superior off-road performance, the Sport Touring, really sets it apart as well. While there is a lot to like about the 2019 Ford EcoSport, the Encore simply goes a few steps further. But you don’t have to just take my word for it.

More Torque for Better Performance

When a lot of us look at engines, it can be easy to get wrapped up in just the horsepower that they have to offer. Don’t get me wrong, horsepower is certainly important, especially when you are comparing engines and want to see which one will give you more juice. But to overlook or ignore torque is a big mistake, especially if you are thinking about going off-road. After all, it’s the torque that gets an SUV rolling or keeps it moving uphill, and when you’re tackling a tricky trail, the last thing you want is to start rolling backward.

There are two engines available for both the 2019 Buick Encore and the 2019 Ford EcoSport. The standard engines in both are pretty similar, but it’s the available engines that I want to look at. The Ford EcoSport has an available 2.0L Ti-VCT engine that provides up to 166 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. That’s good horsepower, but that torque is, to me, a bit of a let-down.

By comparison, the 2019 Buick Encore has an available 1.4L SIDI Turbo engine that offers 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. To be fair, that’s a bit less horsepower than what the EcoSport has to offer, but it’s less than a 10% difference. On the other hand, that’s quite a bit more torque, about 20% more with the available engine from Buick. You’re going to feel that difference if you’re trying to push up a steep incline, or you’re loaded up with camping supplies and that extra weight is working against you.

A grey 2019 Buick Encore is on a narrow road high above a bay. Check out performance when comparing the 2019 Buick Encore vs 2019 Ford EcoSport.

Similar Interior Space and Cargo Options

Speaking of camping supplies, if you are planning on going off-road with your SUV, then you may also be interested in doing some camping. Part of the reason you might pick an SUV for off-roading is because of the extra interior cargo space these vehicles provide compared to something like a traditional Jeep.

When looking at the 2019 Buick Encore and the 2019 Ford EcoSport, they are both quite similar in this department. Major differences would be a huge drawback for the Encore when it comes to taking a long off-road trip, but they are very minor. Both of these vehicles can safely and comfortably seat up to five people. The 2019 Buick Encore has up to 48.4 cu.ft. of interior cargo room behind the front seat, and a little less than 19 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the second row.

On the other hand, the 2019 Ford EcoSport has up to 50 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the front row and just over 20 cu.ft. behind the second row. Yes, that does mean the EcoSport has a bit more space, but in both cases, it’s less than or just over one cubic foot of space. Could that make a difference if you’re really packing your SUV to the brim? Yes, but in most situations, you really won’t notice that extra cubic foot of room.

The 2019 Buick Encore Sport Touring

Here, to me, is where the 2019 Buick Encore really sets itself apart as a great choice for going off-road in an SUV. There is an entire trim level for the Encore that is designed with off-roading and exploration in mind: the Sport Touring. While you still might want to pick a few extra options with this trim level, overall it offers more than what the Ford EcoSport can do.

While a few basic features like a rear spoiler set the 2019 Buick Encore Sport Touring apart from the other trim levels, the real stand-out here is that it comes with 18-inch all-season tires. That gives you a lot more ground clearance and makes navigating obstacles on a trail much easier. By comparison, no matter which trim of the 2019 Ford EcoSport you choose, the largest tires you get are 17-inch wheels. Even a single inch of tire size really does make a difference while off-roading.

The Sport Touring also includes great luxury and safety features including an 8-inch digital Infotainment system, active noise cancellation, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. There is a 4-inch driver information system, remote start and keyless open, and a retractable cargo shade. The Sport Touring also has powerful fog lamps and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.

None of these features would matter without all-wheel drive which is available with the Sport Touring. This trim level can be equipped with either engine, so you can get AWD and more torque to make sure you can keep moving and stay safe on just about any trail.

Bringing it all Together

At the end of the day, both the 2019 Buick Encore and the 2019 Ford EcoSport are excellent small SUVs that provide a lot of luxury and safety features in a great package. They are about the same size inside, for both passengers and cargo, and include a lot of safety features and options that make them an ideal choice for families and groups of friends alike. If you just plan on driving around town, then either of these SUVs should provide a solid and comfortable ride.

However, if you want to go off the road more traveled and have an adventure or two, then the 2019 Buick Encore simply has a bit more to offer. With more torque in the available engine and a trim level designed to emphasize exploration and off-road luxury, the Encore is clearly meant as an SUV that lets you really see what’s out there. Of course, you’re going to want to make sure you choose a model with all-wheel drive, which is available at most trim levels, and that more powerful engine.

When properly equipped, the 2019 Buick Encore Sport Touring is about as luxurious as you can get while stirring up dust and getting dirty!

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