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

Which is safer? Buick Encore or VW Tiguan. Neither SUV rated well in safety ratings, and instead went for aesthetics when introducing new models.

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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 26, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Buick Encore’s headlights were not tested this model year
  • The Tiguan did not go through the front crash prevention test this year
  • Neither VW or Buick earn any insurance discounts for being award-winning small SUVs in any safety category

Both Buick and Volkswagen ride a fine line between standard vehicles and luxury vehicles. The VW is a little more than a standard vehicle manufacturer but a little less than a luxury vehicle. The Beetle, for example, is not a luxury vehicle but it’s often classified as a fun vehicle.

The Buick was once considered boring, basic, and anything but exciting or luxurious, but that all changed in the past decade. When Buick introduced a completely redesigned line of cars and SUVs, the game changed.

The small SUV market for VW and Buick consists of the Buick Encore and the VW Tiguan, and both push the boundaries into the luxury market.

Both have upgraded features as their standard features rather than additional upgrades unlike many of the other small SUVs in the same category. You could say that both VW and Buick are found somewhere in between your average vehicle and your luxury vehicle as a sort of middleman in terms of luxury.

While both brands have come a long way in producing upscale vehicles that many believe toe the line of becoming a luxury vehicle, neither is particularly impressive in terms of safety ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety didn’t rate either the Encore or the Tiguan well in most categories, and it seems almost as if these two brands decided to go for aesthetics rather than safety features when they introduced their new models.

They might look good, but neither is going to allow you to call your insurance company and ask for any additional discounts for stellar safety ratings. No matter which vehicle you choose, make sure you compare coverages with our free quote tool above today! 

Rating the Buick Encore and the VW Tiguan

For the IIHS to provide accurate information regarding the safety of both of these vehicles, the Buick and the VW were both tested in three categories.

The crashworthiness, the crash avoidance and mitigation, and the child safety anchors. The small SUVs were driven, crashed, and graded on the subcategories in each primary category using four letter grades.

  • Crashworthiness includes small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats
  • Crash Avoidance and Mitigation includes front crash prevention and headlights
  • Child Seat Anchors includes the latch
  • “G” good
  • “A” acceptable
  • “M” marginal
  • “P” poor

Front crash prevention is the only category not given a letter grade. Instead, each vehicle is given either a basic, advanced, or superior rating on its ability to prevent crashes from the front.

Once the vehicles are graded, they are then awarded for their stellar safety features. The IIHS offers two awards. The Top Safety Pick and the Top Safety Pick Plus are given to all vehicles that meet only the highest standards.

Top Safety Pick Award Requirements

To earn a Top Safety Pick Award, all vehicles must meet specific criteria. This includes 5 “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

The child safety anchors aren’t considered because it’s not a feature that all consumers find important. Additionally, the latch isn’t rated on how safe it keeps the kids. It’s rated on how easy it is for parents to use.

To earn a Top Safety Pick Plus award from the IIHS, vehicles must meet those criteria as well as earn an “A” rating or better in the headlight category.

Headlight ratings are fairly new as they were only introduced in the 2016 model year, and the IIHS’ introduction of this rating came as a shock to many due to the lack of appropriate safety features included in most headlight packages.


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Buick Encore

The Buick Encore is the small SUV in the Buick family, and it has plenty of upgrades. What it does not have, however, is a great front crash prevention rating or any rating in the headlights category.

Otherwise, it has excellent ratings for safety. Unfortunately, the low safety rating for the front crash prevention stopped this vehicle short of receiving a Top Safety Pick award, so you won’t get any discounts on insurance for this.

The Buick scored well in the crashworthiness category with all “G” ratings save for the small overlap front passenger side and it’s “A” rating.

It also has an “A” rating for the child latch, but the front crash prevention is a very low basic score. This hurt significantly.

Volkswagen Tiguan

The VW Tiguan did not perform as well as the Buick in safety tests. It was not graded at all on the front crash prevention, which makes it ineligible for any Top Safety Pick awards.

The VW has four “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category and one “M” for the small overlap front driver side. Both the latch and the headlights earned “A” ratings.

The Winner

Neither the Buick or the VW are winners when it comes to safety thanks to low ratings in certain areas, but the Buick has better safety ratings across the board than the VW. Neither is going to win you any discounts with your insurance agency, which is why shopping around will prove helpful to you.

There are many ways to save on your car insurance, but paying your premium upfront is one of the unknown methods of savings. Not only do you save money on monthly service and billing fees, but you also get a discount of approximately 5 percent by doing this with most companies.

In addition to safety, comparing the overall size of passengers as well as cargo space, comparing the overall price, and comparing manufacturer warranties on these two small SUVs is imperative.

Don’t buy a new SUV without first considering all of these to get the best price. These are the small details that often make the decision easier when comparing two vehicles. No matter which vehicle you choose, make sure you compare rates with our free quote tool below! 

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