Is BMW’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Buick’s?

Which is safer? BMW X1 or Buick Encore. The X1 is a top IIHS safety pick, while the Encore didn't make the list. Safety features can impact auto insurance rates up to 8%.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 28, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The BMW X1 and the Buick Encore had similar ratings in each category, but the BMW received the Top Safety Pick award
  • Choosing a Top Safety Pick award vehicle can reduce the cost of car insurance
  • The IIHS uses tests that mimic situations that could actually happen so the ratings are accurate

Since the IIHS is a leader in the industry for safety ratings, they take their ability to test vehicles very seriously by making sure all of their tests are performed the same way.

When the IIHS uses tests like crash tests and headlight tests, they use the most advanced technology to ensure the results are as accurate as possible.

Other safety rating institutes are able to use the IIHS and their procedures as a system of measurement to determine the efficacy of their own tests. Make sure to use our free quote tool above to compare rates no matter which vehicle you choose!

The Ratings

Each rating for different vehicle tests has several factors that go into it to get the most accurate rating possible. The ratings are based on how well the vehicle performed during each test, the damage the vehicle received, how a crash test doll fared after the test was over and the vehicle’s ability to protect passengers in each seating position.

Because the IIHS likes to keep things as uniform as possible, they use rating G for good, A for acceptable, M for marginal and P for poor on every crash test area they are able to rate on each vehicle they test.

Ratings for Crash Tests

The BMW X1 and the Buick Encore both had the same crash tests performed by the IIHS. They were able to be rated on each area including the small and moderate overlap front tests, the seats, the roof and the sides of the vehicle.

Each test was performed on both vehicles except the passenger side small overlap front on the BMW X1.

The BMW X1 had a score of G in every area except the small overlap front passenger side which had no rating. The Buick Encore had the same G rating in each area except the small overlap front on the passenger side. The Encore received a rating of A on the test.

Avoiding a Crash

The first thing the IIHS looks at when they are determining a vehicle’s ability to avoid a crash is the availability and the efficacy of the auto-brake. The rating scale goes from basic to advanced to superior for these tests.

The BMW X1 received a rating of advanced on the test because it only reduced speed in the 25-mile per hour test, but the Encore received a Basic because it reduced speed in the 12 and 25-mile per hour tests instead of stopping completely on either one.

The headlights are another area the IIHS tests to determine whether the vehicle can mitigate properly.

The headlights in the BMW X1 received a rating of M because they did not work well on right or left sharp turns and did not have the reach the IIHS was expecting. There was no data for the headlights on the Buick Encore.

Child Safety Seat System

The LATCH system is supposed to be the same in each car according to the government’s requirements so the IIHS tests the child safety seat system to determine whether it is easy to use or not.

The BMW X1 received a score of A because it was too difficult to maneuver around the LATCH system hardware in the vehicle.

The Buick Encore also received a rating of A because the LATCH equipment was too deep in the seat for a user to reach easily and quickly.

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Which small SUV was safer?

The BMW X1 was safer than the Buick Encore. They were only one spot away from each other in the safety rankings, but that was the difference between being a Top Safety Pick and not. The BMW X1 received the Top Safety Pick award for the scores it received in each area.

While the scores for the vehicles were similar, the scores on the BMW X1 were higher than the Buick Encore. The score of Advanced on the crash avoidance helped to push the BMW X1 over the edge of being a Top Safety Pick vehicle.

The fact there was no data for the headlights on the Buick Encore was enough to harm the vehicle’s chances of being a Top Safety Pick.

Reasons to Choose a Car

Safety ratings can have a huge impact on the way you drive and the amount it costs you to drive a vehicle.

Safety ratings can make you feel more secure while you are driving, give you the peace of mind knowing you will be better off in an accident and allow you to take advantage of insurance policy savings.

Safety ratings are important, but you shouldn’t base your choice of vehicle on the safety ratings again. In addition to considering the safety of your vehicle, you should also consider the cost of the vehicle and the way the vehicle looks.

There are different amounts of space in each small-size SUV so always make sure you are considering this factor. By looking at all areas of a vehicle while you are shopping around, you will have the best chance of getting a vehicle that is perfect for you. Compare rates with our free quote tool below now! 

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