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

The Honda CR-V is an IIHS top safety pick while the Buick Encore is not. The rate of auto insurance is around 18% more for many SUV 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 27, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Buick’s small SUV is not a top safety pick in any capacity
  • The Honda CR-V is a top safety pick plus, which is the highest rating possible
  • The Honda HR-V has some of the lowest safety ratings in the small SUV category

Consumers might not always agree on the most important feature of a small SUV. Perhaps it’s the trunk space for some, backseat space for the kids, or the overall sporty look it comes with.

Some might even argue the most important thing they consider when shopping for a new small SUV is the safety of the vehicle combined with the price of the vehicle. What everyone might agree on is finding insurance discounts for a small SUV is always welcome.

If you choose a small SUV with an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick rating, you will get that insurance discount if you ask around.

While not every agency is willing to offer this discount, many are. All you need to do is ask. With that in mind, here’s how you can make your final decision between the Honda and Buick small SUV lineup if you’re feeling stuck.

Compare car insurance quotes between these two makes to see if one could get a lower rate on your premiums. Enter your zip code into our free tool above to get started.

Understanding IIHS Letter Ratings

You must understand how the IIHS rates its vehicles before you shop for a new SUV. Each vehicle is broken down into three separate categories for specific purposes:

  1. Crashworthiness is used to determine how well the vehicle does in a collision by grading separate features of the vehicle’s build.
  2. Crash avoidance and mitigation are used to determine the ability of the headlights to prevent crashes as well as the prevention system the front of the vehicle offers.
  3. Child safety is important to all parents and anyone who drives kids around, and the latch is what’s graded in this test.

Each item is given a letter grade, and it’s similar to what you experienced when you were in school. You want a “G” for good or an “A” for acceptable, and you’d rather avoid an “M” for marginal and a “P” for poor.

These letters are in order from best to worse, though it might seem a little confusing that an “A” grade is the second best.


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Honda’s Small SUV Safety Ratings in 2017

Honda places two of its vehicles in the small SUV lineup, but only one takes the top honor of being an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award-winning SUV.

The 2017 Honda CR-V is among the safest and most reliable small SUVs this model year, and for several very good reasons.

It received a “G” rating in all the crashworthiness category and an “A” rating in the headlights and child LATCH system ratings. It also received the highest possible score of superior in the front crash prevention category.

The Honda HR-V, however, did not do so well in any crash tests. It didn’t earn an award for being a top safety pick, and it didn’t place very high on the list of small SUVs due to its unimpressive test scores.

In fact, it’s ranked among the lowest in terms of safety in the entire small SUV market for 2017.

The HR-V walked away with four “G” ratings in the crashworthiness category and an “A” for the small overlap in the front on the driver’s side. It’s got a “P” rating for headlights, and an “M” rating in the child safety LATCH category.

This score leaves ample room for improvement, and that’s not something many buyers are interested in when they’re shopping for a highly-rated small SUV.

Buick’s Small SUV Safety Ratings in 2017


Buick is a brand that’s made some major changes in the past decade. It went from being a basic brand without much “wow” factor to undergoing a complete overhaul that has many consumers looking to place this brand in the luxury vehicle category.

Unfortunately, the 2017 Buick Encore doesn’t have much to offer if you’re looking for great safety ratings.

It just misses the mark to become a top safety pick, but it’s ranked much higher than the Honda HR-V. The Encore tested impressively in every category but the front crash prevention category.

With “G” ratings in all the crashworthiness subcategories except one, which received an impressive “A” rating, this vehicle is a good one. The LATCH has an “A” rating, and the headlights were not rated at all.

Unfortunately, Buick’s smallest SUV did not do well in the front crash prevention tests. It’s got a very low score of basic, and it doesn’t get lower than that.

It was this test that prevented this small SUV from being awarded any top safety picks, which means no safety insurance discounts are available for this ride. However, other discounts may still apply.

The Safest Pick


The safest pick is the Honda CR-V when you compare it to the Buick Encore.

With its Top Safety Pick+ rating, you’re getting insurance discounts and peace of mind. However, it’s always important to make the choice that’s best for you rather than best for everyone else.

There are certain letter grades that might deter you from wanting a specific vehicle, but don’t let categories that don’t apply to you stop you from buying what you want. If you don’t have a baby, don’t worry about the child LATCH system.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the best rate for the coverage you need regardless of what vehicle you drive. Enter your zip code into our free tool below to get started.

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