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

What small SUV is safer: the Buick Encore or Chevy Trax? It's a tie. Both cars have great safety ratings, save for the crash avoidance and mitigation category.

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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: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Buick’s small SUV is the Buick Encore and its headlights were not rated
  • Chevy’s small SUV is the Chevy Trax, which received a low rating for front crash prevention
  • Neither Chevy or Buick have small that tested well enough to earn safety awards
  • The Buick and Chevy scored the exact same scores in every category in the small SUV class

Both Buick and Chevy manufacture small SUVs with great safety ratings, and consumers often find it difficult to choose which one is the best. The Buick Encore and the Chevy Trax both carry a lot of pros and cons, and that makes the decision tough.

Finding the right vehicle for you and your family should be simple, but there are so many parts to the buying process it’s almost impossible to choose a vehicle without second-guessing yourself or realizing your vehicle choice didn’t meet your expectations in every category.

From price to aesthetics to luxury features to upgrades to safety, you have your work cut out for you when you shop for a small SUV.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists 23 small SUVs alone in 2017, which only shows just how difficult it might be to choose the one you want to drive. What’s most important to you?

  • Is it gas mileage because you drive far?
  • Is it a warranty that lasts a long time to keep out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum?
  • Do you care more about safety than anything?

Safety is important in any new vehicle, and not for just one reason. Of course, you want to ensure your family is safe first and foremost, but are you aware that the safety features in your new small SUV can impact the cost of insurance?

The safer your car is rated, the less you pay to insure it. This can have a major impact on the final decision, which is why the IIHS works so hard to provide the most up-to-date and relevant safety information possible.

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Why are safety ratings important?

Do you feel that the bigger the vehicle the safer it is in case of an accident? There is a lot more to vehicle safety than just size.

The way the vehicle is built, the way it handles in a crash, and the way the features work in any small SUV can help it avoid crashes and even keep you safer on the road than something larger.

Safety ratings are important because they help you understand which part of your small SUV is safest, which part is most dangerous, and how you can expect it to perform in an accident.

The IIHS also uses safety ratings for other important factors, including helping various insurance companies choose how much to charge for insurance. Insurance is not cheap, and you want the best insurance to offer financial protection to you and your family.

If you drive a vehicle that meets the IIHS’ standards to earn a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus award, you pay less to insure your small SUV.


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What are safety pick awards and how are they determined?

Safety pick awards are issued by the IIHS to vehicles that meet certain requirements in the safety rating system. All vehicles are issued letter grades in various categories.

  • “G” for good
  • “A” for acceptable
  • “M” for marginal
  • “P” for poor

The categories are simple, and each one is broken down into its own separate subcategories.

  • Crashworthiness – small front overlap, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, head restraints, and seats
  • Crash Avoidance and Mitigation – front crash prevention and headlights
  • Child Seat Anchors – LATCH

The only subcategory that does not receive a safety rating letter grade is the front crash prevention category, which is rated either basic, advanced, or superior.

To receive a Top Safety Pick award, all vehicles much meet “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category as well as an advanced or superior rating in the front crash prevention. An “A” or “G” rating in the headlight subcategory earns the vehicle a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

Buick Encore vs. Chey Trax

Both the small SUVs offered by Buick and Chevy have excellent safety ratings across the board, save for the crash avoidance and mitigation category. Neither vehicle was rated on its headlights, and both earned the basic rating for its front crash prevention.

Otherwise, they earned all the same ratings in every category.

Both earned a “G” rating in all crashworthiness categories except the small overlap front passenger side, in which both vehicles earned an “A” rating. Both the Buick and the Chevy earned an “A” rating for the child LATCH.

This means both are tied in terms of safety, and neither is safer than the other. Your decision comes down to which one is better for your budget as well as your personal style preferences.

Lowering Your Insurance and Choosing the Best Safety Features

Since both the Buick and the Chevy have the same safety ratings in every category, the decision is based on other factors. Neither will offer you a big discount on insurance due to safety reasons, but you can lower your insurance in other manners.

If you have a clean driving record, you don’t drive too many miles each year, or you are retired, you can ask for additional discounts.

It’s also helpful to know not all safety features in all vehicles are imperative in your personal decision-making process. If for example, you don’t have kids, you don’t worry so much about the LATCH rating.

If you don’t have passengers at all, you might not worry about the small overlap front passenger side. These ratings are important, but they’re also a basic guideline for consumers meant for you to modify to meet your personal preferences.

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