As crossovers continue to dominate the crowded SUV market, automakers have appealed to buyers by making them more stylish, fuel efficient and luxurious.
What the Ford Escape Gets Right
In a bid to maintain the Escape's bestselling status, Ford unveiled a third-generation model built on the Focus platform. Its fresh styling shares handsome design cues with Ford sedans, and creates a look that's more sport than utility. Fuel efficiency is up, as is cargo space.
An impressive list of optional technology includes a hands-free power lift gate, Ford's SYNC system, and a sensor-based blind spot information system.
What the Buick Encore Gets Right
The Encore looks the part of a Buick with signature design elements like a waterfall grille and portholes -- mounted, in this case, on the hood rather than the fenders. Beneath its skin, however, beats the German-tuned heart of an Opel.
The Encore is powered by an Ecotec turbocharged 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The result is a versatile and efficient -- yet luxurious and sporty -- crossover vehicle.
As America's bestselling SUV, is the Ford Escape Your Obvious Choice?
Not necessarily. As a more premium brand, the Buick will appeal to some buyers who might not consider a mainstream Ford. And the Encore's elegant look and feel offer a compelling counterpoint to the Escape's brasher style. In many cases, a choice between the two will come down to personal taste and needs.
Our Verdict: Ford Escape
As good as the Encore is, it has inherent competitive limitations. Its single engine, for instance, is 30 horsepower weaker than the least powerful of the Escape's three engine choices. This makes the Escape a stronger choice -- from both performance and utility perspectives.