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Compact SUVs have a very important place in the automotive market. Not only are they great for general commuting, but for the longer road trips as well. In the current day, there’s plenty of competition as there are many manufacturers who produce compact SUVs to compete with one another. As fierce as competition in the automotive industry may get, none get quite as fierce as the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Buick Encore. Both of these vehicles are designed to appeal to the same kind of customer, and a host of similarities can be seen across the board. However, some notable differences ultimately give one of these compact SUVs an advantage over the other. The Trax and Encore have historically been rivals ever since the Trax entered the scene in 2015, and every year things get more interesting. Drivers may be having difficulty deciding which compact SUV is right for them as the similarities are apparent. But to those looking for the best of the best, they’re left with only one choice.
The Trax and Encore are offered in a variety of trims, with the Trax sporting three and the Encore featuring two. The three trims for the Trax start with LS, which is the base model Trax and has a starting MSRP of $21,300. This trim is then followed up by LT and the higher-end Premier. In comparison, the Encore's four trims start with the base level 1SV, which starts at an MSRP $23,200. The other trim available is the Preferred.
Price is an important aspect of a vehicle’s success, and Chevy has made the right choice by offering a similarly performant vehicle for a cheaper cost. Offering a vehicle more accessible to the everyday driver can be the difference-maker between two vehicles. Despite some of the similarities between the two vehicles, there are a few differences that prevent these vehicles from being identical.
There are many similarities seen between the 2020 Trax and Encore. Both vehicles offer a 1.4L 4-Cylinder engine that turns out an identical 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Each of these vehicles pairs these engines with a 6-speed automatic transmission, which allows for smooth shifting. With a similar performance profile between the two, the higher price of the Encore doesn’t hold up to the more affordable Trax in this regard.
This is amplified further by the EPA-estimated ratings that both vehicles produce. The Buick Encore produces 25 MPG city and 30 MPG highway. Although these numbers are respectable, it’s outpaced by the slightly more efficient 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway seen on the Trax. Not only does the Trax offer identical horsepower and torque output to the more expensive 2020 Encore, but it’s also more fuel-efficient. Those considering one of these two vehicles should opt for the Trax if they’re looking for identical performance while saving money at the gas pump.
Both the 2020 Chevy Trax and the Buick Encore have plenty of similarities when it comes to the interiors within each vehicle. Both compact SUVs seat five passengers maximum while not feeling cramped. Each vehicle offers an identical 48.4 cu.ft. of space with the backseats folded downwards, which provides plenty of space for larger cargo such as luggage. A very similar amount of space between the two can be seen when the seats are upright as well, with the Trax getting 18.7 cu.ft of space and the Encore getting 18.8 cu.ft. Considering the Encore has a higher price tag than the Trax, drivers don’t benefit from extra cargo space, which will disappoint many shoppers. The similarities between the two vehicles don’t end with the seating arrangement and available cargo space. The arrangement of interior features are rather similar as well.
Typically a vehicle that costs less than its competition will likely lack modern tech-centric features such as infotainment centers. This is simply not the case with the Trax as it includes an infotainment center as robust as the Buick Encore while retaining a lower MSRP. The main difference between the two infotainment centers is the 8-inch screen found standard in the Encore, while the Trax includes a 7-inch screen. When it comes to screen size, a 1-inch difference is negligible and can’t be seen as an advantage as the everyday driver is not likely to notice this difference.
The Encore does contain a couple of features that aren’t present in the Trax, such as USB ports and Bluetooth, but these problems can be mitigated through 3rd-party adapters. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot comes standard in both vehicles allowing a stable and fast internet connection while on the road at all times. Hotspots are immensely popular because passengers can connect their devices and watch movies, stream web content, and much more. Music will be played back on a 6-speaker audio system that comes standard on both vehicles, with each vehicle offering an available premium Bose audio system as an upgrade. With these Bose audio systems, drivers will be immersed in their favorite music with seven high-quality speakers fit throughout the cabin.
Lastly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on both vehicles, which is a highly sought after feature for many shoppers in the market today. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, drivers can connect their iPhones or Android phones to the vehicle’s infotainment center and access many smartphone functions that help make the driving experience more connected. Amongst these features, drivers can access their contact information, media, and make hands-free text messages and phone calls. Additionally, by utilizing voice commands and personal assistants such as Siri, drivers will never have to take their hands off of the wheel.
The Trax and Encore have a very similar arrangement of safety features that are available for each vehicle. Both the 2020 Chevy Trax and 2020 Buick Encore come standard with a rearview camera but allow for plenty of upgrades.
Among the available upgrades, the Trax and Encore may be fitted with forward collision warning, which notifies the driver of an impending impact through alert signals. Blind-spot monitoring is also available for both the Trax and Encore, which is another system that alerts the driver of vehicles approaching the driver’s blind spot. Both vehicles do offer rear parking sensors, which help to raise the driver’s spatial awareness of objects behind the vehicle when reversing into a parking space. However, the Trax does lack the front parking sensors that the Encore has.
Also available for both vehicles is a rear cross-traffic alert, which sends out alerts to the driver when a person or car is behind you while in reverse, which is useful when backing out of parking spaces. Another feature that’s available to the Encore that’s not seen on the Trax is rain-sensing windshield wipers. This is ultimately the trade-off between the Trax’s lower MSRP and the Encore’s additional available safety features.
The last feature that is shared between the two is a lane departure warning, which sends out alerts to the driver if the vehicle detects unintentional lane swerving. Additionally, lane departure warning will notify the driver if a lane has been changed without the use of a turn signal. Shoppers will likely be stuck between the Trax and the Encore because of these similarities.
Although both vehicles require additional upgrades to get the most out of the available safety features, drivers should consider opting for these inclusions. Considering the cost of a 2020 Chevy Trax is generally lower, this ultimately means a shopper can obtain most or all of these safety features and still be paying less than they would with the 2020 Buick Encore.