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2021 Buick Encore GX vs. 2021 Honda HR-V: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Buick Encore GX is a flashy near-luxury subcompact, while the 2021 Honda HR-V is hardcore reliable. Both accomplish the same goal. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Buick Encore GX: Buick steps up their game in the subcompact SUV segment.
  • Honda HR-V: Minor updates for 2021; Remains a well-mannered subcompact SUV.

2021 Buick Encore GX

2021 Buick Encore GX

Base Price: $25,195 / Read our 2021 Buick Encore GX Review

What we like: Much better than the standard Buick Encore; Roomy interior; AWD model dispenses with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in favor of 9-speed automatic

What we would change: Small 3-cylinder engine; CVT on FWD models; cheapish rear seat trim

Overview: Attractive, modern and upscale, the Buick Encore GX is designed to appeal to a new breed of Buick owner: one who appreciates the brand is an urban dweller, and more. In other words, a millennial. Much more stylish than its non-GX sibling, the vehicle is so different it should be renamed. It’s based on an all-new platform shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer. 

What’s new for 2021: The Buick Encore GX was entirely new for 2020, so little has changed in the 2021 model year. The Encore GX slots between the standard (smaller) Encore and the larger Buick Envision.

Features and Technology: The Encore GX comes in three trim levels: Preferred, Select and Essence. Base engine for the GX Preferred is a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine making 137 horsepower. A safety suite is standard, as are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, pedestrian braking, an eight-inch touchscreen display and 4G Wi-Fi.

GX Select adds heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. GX Essence includes all the above with leather-covered seats and LED headlights.

The AWD model ($2,000 additional) receives a 1.3-liter turbo inline-3 that provides 155 hp.

What does the future hold: Since the Buick Encore GX is so new, we don’t expect any major updates in the near future. We predict there will be minor refinements along the way.

2021 Honda HRV

2021 Honda HR-V

Base Price:  $22,140 / Read our 2021 Honda HR-V Review 

What we like: Honda’s least expensive crossover; flexible interior and cargo space; auto-emergency braking

What we would change: Make the HR-V engine more powerful; improve it to properly compete with rivals; make Honda Sensing available to all trim levels

Overview: The Honda HR-V continues with few changes from a year ago, with excellent reliability and resale value, as seen in most Honda vehicles. The “Magic Seat” aids in interior flexibility and cargo space, along with generous passenger room. Continuously variable transmission (CVT) is just ok. All-wheel drive is standard on top-shelf Touring trim level, while lesser trims must pony up $1,500 for the feature.

What’s new for 2021: The 2021 Honda HR-V returns relatively unchanged this year, with minor trim updates. All trim levels except base LX receive new wheel designs, while the Sport model gets new rear privacy glass.

Features and Technology: The HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that is good for 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the CVT, it results in tepid power and acceleration. Sadly, you must step up to the EX trim for the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assists including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and the Honda LaneWatch blind-spot camera.

What does the future hold: Still a first-generation vehicle in the United States, the 2021 Honda HR-V follows the same pattern set forth at its introduction in 2016. Expect a new design sometime late this year as a 2022 model. Find 2021 Honda HR-V models for sale near you 

Encore GX vs HR-V: Strengths Comparison

Buick Encore GX: Engine choice gives more options; well built; standard safety tech; great value.

Honda HR-V: Honda reliability and resale value; Good passenger layout and cargo-hauling capability.

2021 Buick Encore GX vs. 2021 Honda HR-V:  Which is better?

Honda has a bulletproof reputation for reliability and resale but Buick impresses with more power and capabilities. For that reason we say the Buick Encore GX is better. Find a 2021 Buick Encore GX for sale or Find a 2021 Honda HR-V for sale

2021 Buick Encore GX 2021 HONDA HR-V
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.2-liter turbo inline-3 1.8-liter I4
Horsepower 137 hp @ 5,000 rpm 141 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 162 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm 127 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
Transmission CVT CVT with overdrive
Fuel Economy 28 mpg (26 city/30 hwy) 30 mpg (28 city/34 hwy)
Also Available 1.3-liter turbo inline-3, AWD, 9-spd auto AWD
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5-star 5-star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 102.2 inches 102.8 inches
Overall Length 171.4 inches 170.4 inches
Width 71.4 inches 69.8 inches
Height 61.1 inches 63.2 inches
Turning Diameter 36.8 feet 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 39.7 inches 37.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.1 inches 38.3 inches
Legroom, Front 40.9 inches 41.2 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.0 inches 39.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.4 inches 56.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.6 inches 54.5 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 92.8 cubic feet 96.1 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 23.5/50.2 cubic feet 24.3/58.8 cubic feet

Mark Elias
Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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