Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Buick Encore GX Just Can’t Keep Up With The Mazda CX-30

As crossovers become larger and more expensive, the subcompact SUV segment becomes more appealing. Not only are these tiny SUVs reasonably affordable, but they are also full of tech features. Today we’re looking at two of the excellent contenders, the 2020 Buick Encore GX and the 2020 Mazda CX-30. MotorTrend recently conducted a review comparing these two crossovers and found that the CX-30 is the better buy.

The Mazda CX-30 is significantly cheaper

2020 Mazda CX-30 driving down street
2020 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda

MotorTrend’s comparison of these two crossovers begins with one of the most important purchasing factors, price. In this regard, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is off to an early lead with a base price of $21,900. In contrast, the 2020 Buick Encore GX starts at $24,100. The result is a price difference of around $2,200.

It’s not just the base price, either. Loading the Encore GX with extra options is also far more expensive. For example, equipping a CX-30 with all-wheel drive will add $1,400 to the base price. Opt for the same traction system in the Buick, and you’ll end up paying $2,000.

If you want the absolute best, you’ll have to opt for the range-topping Mazda CX-30 Premium Package and the Buick Encore GX Essence. While the Mazda starts at $28,200, the Buick starts at $28,895. From there, the price difference only grows. A fully loaded Encore GX Essence AWD tops out around $38,000. In contrast, a loaded Mazda CX-30 Premium Package costs around $32,500. The result is that the Mazda is significantly cheaper to buy.

The Buick Encore GX’s engine is down on power

A photo of the Buick Encore GX outdoors.
2020 Buick Encore GX | Buick

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While neither of these crossovers is built to be quick, the Mazda CX-30 clearly outguns the Buick Encore GX. Under the hood of the Mazda lives, a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine mated to a variable transmission. Total output is rated at 186 hp, and there are no other available options.

A base Buick Encore GX comes equipped with a 1.2-liter turbocharged engine developing 137 hp. However, there is a more powerful 1.3-liter turbocharged engine developing 155 hp. Despite not having a turbocharger, the Mazda’s engine is significantly more powerful. The only saving grace the Buick has is that it is slightly lighter than the Mazda, allowing for a better power to weight ratio.

Despite this, MotorTrend noted that the Buick Encore GX was one of the slowest vehicles it tested this year, taking 9.3 seconds to hit 60 mph during testing. On the other hand, the Mazda has a significant advantage, taking just 8.3 seconds to hit 60 mph. The result is that the Buick struggled to complete basic tasks such as quickly merging onto the highway during MotorTrend’s test.

The CX-30 is the better drive

The Mazda CX-30 on display at the Brussels Motor Show
The Mazda CX-30 | Didier Messens via Getty Images

In terms of daily driving, MotorTrend claims the Mazda CX-30 is the far better option. While the Buick Encore GX does offer a softer ride, it leans too far in that direction, offering little to no feel. While the Mazda is not stiff by any means, MotorTrend noted that it remained fairly composed while cornering. One of the major defects noted by MotorTrend was the Buick’s oddball steering, claiming “struggles with tasks as basic as accurately steering down the road.”

According to MotorTrend, the Mazda’s main advantage has to do with its chassis. Given that it shared its chassis with the Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback, it doesn’t necessarily drive like a crossover. The excellent chassis only highlighted a lack of power at the limit, claiming “we often found ourselves stuck where the little four-pot had nothing left to give.” Thankfully Mazda plans to add a turbocharged engine onto the lineup, matching the capable chassis. The result is that the Mazda is cheaper, more powerful, and the all-around better drive.