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

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Things to remember...
  • Both luxury SUVs Buick Encore and Audi Q3 did not receive safety ratings as high as some of their non-luxury competitors
  • Neither the Buick Encore or the Audi Q3 received a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS
  • Choosing a vehicle that is a Top Safety Pick award winner unlike the Encore or Q3 can help drivers save just slightly more money on insurance costs

Even though there is no official class for small size luxury SUVs, the Buick Encore and the Audi Q3 both fall under the luxury vehicle and small size SUV classes.

The manufactures designed the vehicles to have safety features and luxury options, but they were unable to satisfy the requirements the IIHS had for their awards.

Both vehicles scored better in 2016 than the 2017 models. Enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool right now!

New IIHS Testing


One of the biggest reasons so many small size SUVs are doing worse than they did in 2016 is the new IIHS test that has been put into place.

It was added in a way that disallowed some vehicles in the 2017 year to be tested and made it difficult for manufacturers to catch up with the requirements for the vehicle.

Now that the IIHS has added the passenger side front collision test, manufacturers will be able to bring their vehicles up to the new standards in the future.

In addition to their latest test, the IIHS has made sure they are performing other tests on each vehicle to determine how safe they are. They check the crashworthiness of vehicles along with how easy it is to put a safety seat into the vehicle.

More recently, the IIHS added the crash avoidance test to the lineup to help test collision warning systems and auto brakes.

Crash Tests by the IIHS

The IIHS puts vehicles into accidents on purpose so they can see how the vehicle will perform if it is actually in an accident on the road.

They also put crash test dummies into the vehicles to help get a better understanding of what would happen to humans who are in the vehicle.

The IIS then records the data they find on the results of the vehicle and the dummies in the vehicle.

— How the Encore and Q3 Performed

Car adjuster after accident_70080918-1600x1600

The Buick Encore was able to have a score for the new frontal passenger collision test, but the Audi Q3 was unable to receive a score from the IIHS.

Both vehicles scored good on the driver’s side front crash test. They also scored good on the side tests and rollover tests making their overall crashworthiness score nearly the same.

Avoidance and Mitigation Ratings from the IIHS

The IIHS looks at the warning systems and auto brakes in a vehicle to understand how well they will stop a vehicle from being involved in a front collision.

The IIHS also uses the mitigation portion of the category to determine whether the headlights are effective or not.

The mitigation uses the regular IIHS scale from poor to good, but the avoidance category uses a basic, advanced and superior rating system.

— Avoidance Scores for the Encore and Q3

The Buick Encore had an avoidance system that received a basic score. It was only able to use a warning system and the auto brake feature was not available for testing by the IIHS.

There was nothing available in the Q3 for the IIHS to test the crash avoidance.

The headlights for the Buick Encore were not available for the IIHS to test. The Q3 received a rating of poor for its headlights. It had inadequate low beams and partially inadequate high beams on sharp curves.

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IIHS Rating for Easy LATCH System

Since the LATCH system is determined by the NHSTA, the IIHS has no way to tell whether it is actually safe or not.

Instead of trying to override anything the NHSTA has done, the IIHS simply bases their LATCH ratings off of how easy they are for people to use.

By doing this, they can tell whether people will be more likely to use them or not.

— LATCH Ratings for Encore and Q3

The LATCH system in the Buick Encore was rated as acceptable because the connection was too deep into the seat.

The LATCH system in the Audi Q3 had the same acceptable rating. It received the A because it had other hardware close to the anchor which could be confused for the anchor.

Choosing a Safer Vehicle


The Buick Encore was marginally safer than the Audi Q3. Because they had lower scores than other small SUVs and missing data, they missed out.

Buyers who want a luxury small SUV that has won a Top Safety Pick award may want to consider looking at the BMW X1.

Car Shopping

Car shopping can already be a hassle for buyers who are looking for a brand new car but adding in endless amounts of ratings from the IIHS and other institutes can make the car-buying process even more difficult.

While buyers should always consider all the different factors of a car, only focusing on safety could leave them feeling like they are wanting more.

For example, the Audi Q3 and the Buick Encore are generally regarded as among the best cars available, but they didn’t even hit the IIHS minimum safety ratings to win an award which might push buyers away from the vehicle they really want.

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