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Buick Encore vs. Toyota RAV4

Buick Encore vs. Toyota RAV4

Finding the perfect do-it-all family vehicle that's also wallet-friendly may seem a bit of a far stretch when budgets are tight. Going the pre-owned route is certainly the more affordable option; however, buying used also presents some challenges and hard decisions.

To help make your life easier, we take a look at two wallet friendly options that despite not being brand new still make for some solid purchase choices. First off an American brand in the way of the Buick Encore and the Japanese Toyota RAV4.

Carry on reading as we offer up a little bit of insight into these two subcompact SUVs.

Buick Encore

The Buick Encore is a General Motors subcompact crossover SUV product that was built from 2012 to 2022.

The model that the North American market got to buy was the first-generation Encore, which was, in fact, a restyled Chevrolet Trax. With the launch of the second generation model, the Encore for North America was dropped since the new model is built on the GEM platform intended for emerging markets only.

The Encore for 2012 was available in four trims: Base, Convenience, Leather, and Premium.

A refresh in 2017 saw the range available in six trims: Base, Preferred, Sport Touring, Preferred II, Essence and Premium.

Toyota RAV 4

Generally credited with starting the compact crossover SUV craze, the RAV4 made its debut in North America in 1995 and was built to meet consumers demands for a vehicle combining the benefits of SUVs, like cargo room, higher visibility, and off road capability with the maneuverability and fuel economy of a compact car.

The RAV4 gets its name from the abbreviation of "Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive" and is currently being built in its fifth generation.

Now that we know a little about where these two subcompact SUV contenders come from let's look at what they have to offer as pre-owned purchases.

Exterior Differences

The 2012 to 2022 Buick Encore offers seating for five passengers in its body, measuring 168.5 inches long and 69.9 inches wide with a height of 64.8 inches and a wheelbase of 100.6 inches.

The exterior sported standard chrome door handles, silver roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels, plus Buick's signature waterfall grille completed with blue-ringed light bezels.

For 2017, the Buick Encore received revised headlights and bumpers, LED tail lights and trim options.

The third-generation Toyota RAV 4 was built from 2005 to 2012 and, despite its age, still offers buyers a value-for-money proposition.

This model Toyota four-door RAV4 is offered in a single trim level that measures 167.5 inches in length and is 65.7 inches high. With a wheelbase of 104.7 inches the compact RAV seats five passengers like the Encore.

Exterior features are 16-inch steel wheels and power side mirrors and locks.
Upgrading to the "L" package gets heated mirrors, dark-tinted glass, fog lights and body-color bumpers and door handles.

A sports package adds a mesh grille, a hood scoop, color-keyed door handles, a roof rack, heated mirrors and gray-painted bumpers and over-fenders.

Other options include alloy wheels and a sunroof.

Interior and Cargo Space Differences

The 2013 to 2016 Encore delivered a quality cabin with handsome graining along the dashboard and doors, fabric-wrapped A-pillars, real metal gear shift trim, bits of chrome and decent-looking faux wood, adding some upscale touches.

Standard cloth-and-leatherette seats are fitted, plus dual-zone automatic climate control.
Upscale Leather and Premium editions offer high-grade leather seat upholstery which include six-way power adjusters for both driver and front passenger seats..

The Encore allows 18.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, and folding the seats down gives you 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space. The front passenger seat has a fold-flat feature to accommodate ladders or other long objects.

The cabin of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 offers drivers a set of stylish white-faced gauges, and typically for Toyota, all controls are simple and straightforward to use. Thoughtful cabin design elements include adjustable cup holders and well-placed storage bins. All gen three RAV4’s come with air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and door locks.

Behind the rear seat, the RAV4 offers up to 29.2 cubic feet of cargo. Removing the 50/50-split bench seat, which also happens to conveniently slide, tumble, fold and recline, reveals an impressive 68.3 cubic feet of cargo volume.


The 2013 to 2016 Buick Encore is available with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 138 horsepower and 148 pounds-feet of torque driving the front wheels as standard with available all-wheel drive.

The 2017 refresh added a second turbo engine that makes 153 hp and 177 pounds-feet of torque and added stop-start technology for better fuel economy. Both power units feature a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

The Toyota RAV4 is equipped with a sole engine option of a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder, producing 161 horsepower @5,700 rpm and 165 pound-feet of torque @4,000 rpm. The standard drive was via a four-speed automatic transmission with FWD and the option of AWD.


The Encore features Buick's standard IntelliLink system that offers Bluetooth phone and audio streaming plus USB/iPod connectivity and apps, like Pandora internet radio, to enable streaming of an enabled smartphone.

A navigation system and Bose audio are optional and the 2017 refresh saw the fitment of an 8-inch touchscreen as standard.

The Toyota RAV4 featured a six-speaker CD stereo with Bluetooth connectivity.

Safety and Driver Assistance

The Encore is fitted with standard features such as ten airbags, a backup camera and an antilock brake system with electronic stability control. Driver assistance like Lane departure and forward collision warning systems are optional.

The third-generation Toyota RAV4s were kitted out with a comprehensive suite of safety features, inclusive Anti-lock brakes, Stability Control, Front-impact airbags and Seatbelt pretensioners.

Find your next Compact Crossover SUV at Tim's Trucks

Contact us at Tims Trucks located in Epsom, New Hampshire, where we offer trusted and respectful sales and purchases of clean used trucks, SUVs and cars.

We are ready to serve you, whether it's an economical compact crossover you are looking for or a full-size pickup truck that's on your shopping list.

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