5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

190 lbs.

298 lbs.

Neck Compression

10 lbs.

12 lbs.



5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Compression

51 lbs.

104 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

264/236 lbs.

249/289 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the GMC Terrain is safer than the Buick Encore:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

357 lbs.

388 lbs.

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

630 lbs.

672 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches




Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

46 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Terrain the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 157 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Encore was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2016.


To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Terrain has a standard 700-amp battery. The Encore’s 438-amp battery isn’t as powerful.


The Terrain’s standard 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. produces 32 more horsepower (170 vs. 138) and 55 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 148) than the Encore’s standard 1.4 turbo 4-cyl. The Terrain’s 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. produces 17 more horsepower (170 vs. 153) and 26 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 177) than the Encore’s optional 1.4 turbo 4-cyl. The Terrain’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 99 more horsepower (252 vs. 153) and 83 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 177) than the Encore’s optional 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the GMC Terrain 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. is faster than the Buick Encore (153 HP engine):



Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

10.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

17.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89 MPH

77.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the Terrain’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Buick only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Encore w/Direct Injection Engine.

The Terrain FWD’s standard fuel tank has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Encore (14.9 vs. 14 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Terrain AWD’s standard fuel tank has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Encore (15.6 vs. 14 gallons).


A nine-speed automatic is standard on the GMC Terrain, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Encore.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Terrain 2.0T’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Encore:

Terrain 2.0T


Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

10.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Terrain has larger standard tires than the Encore (225/65R17 vs. 215/55R18). The Terrain’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Encore (235/50R19 vs. 215/55R18).

The Terrain’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Encore’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Terrain offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Encore’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Terrain has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Encore doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the GMC Terrain has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Buick Encore has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Terrain’s wheelbase is 6.7 inches longer than on the Encore (107.3 inches vs. 100.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Terrain is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 1.9 inches wider in the rear than on the Encore.

The Terrain Denali AWD handles at .79 G’s, while the Encore AWD pulls only .72 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Terrain Denali AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.1 seconds quicker than the Encore AWD (27.5 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 29.6 seconds @ .54 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the Terrain SLE has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Encore (6.9 vs. 6.2 inches), allowing the Terrain to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Terrain SLT/Denali’s minimum ground clearance is 1.7 inches higher than on the Encore (7.9 vs. 6.2 inches).


The front grille of the Terrain uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Encore doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Terrain has 10.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Encore (103.2 vs. 92.8).

The Terrain has .4 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front legroom, 2.7 inches more front hip room, 3 inches more front shoulder room, 3.9 inches more rear legroom, 1.7 inches more rear hip room and 3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Encore.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Terrain’s rear seats recline. The Encore’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Terrain has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Encore with its rear seat up (29.6 vs. 18.8 cubic feet). The Terrain has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Encore with its rear seat folded (63.3 vs. 48.4 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Terrain SLE/SLT/Denali’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Encore doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Terrain (except SL) offers an optional power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or on the Terrain SLT/Denali, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Encore doesn’t offer a power liftgate.


The Terrain has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The Encore has no towing capacity.


The Terrain’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Encore does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Terrain’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Encore has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

On a hot day the Terrain’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Encore can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Terrain detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Encore doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Terrain SLT/Denali has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Encore offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Terrain and the Encore offer available heated front seats. The Terrain Denali also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Encore.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Terrain Denali keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Encore doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the Terrain and the Encore offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Terrain has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Encore doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Terrain SLE/SLT/Denali offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Encore doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the GMC Terrain Denali has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Encore doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Terrain Denali’s optional Automatic Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Encore doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Terrain owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Terrain will cost $415 less than the Encore over a five-year period.

The Terrain will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Terrain will retain 45.99% to 49.47% of its original price after five years, while the Encore only retains 41.19% to 42.63%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Terrain is less expensive to operate than the Encore because typical repairs cost less on the Terrain than the Encore, including $15 less for front brake pads and $37 less for front struts.


The GMC Terrain outsold the Buick Encore by 23% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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