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

Hyundai earned top safety marks from the IIHS in 2017, while Buick did not. Safety upgrades can reduce your auto insurance rates by 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...

  • Hyundai is a top-rated automaker value-priced brand that entered the US market in 1986
  • The manufactured started to compete in the small SUV segment in 2005 when it produced the Hyundai Tuscon
  • The Tuscon earned “Poor” safety ratings until 2016 when the make was redesigned and safety features were improved
  • The 2017 Hyundai Tuscon has all “Good” crashworthiness ratings and also “Superior” ratings in crash prevention
  • When you compare the Hyundai Tuscon and the Buick Encore, Hyundai’s small SUV has a better IIHS safety rating

Hyundai didn’t enter the US market until 1986 when other competing brands like Toyota and Honda started to focus more on high-end models and less on entry-level ones.

It was the perfect time for the automaker to offer younger consumers looking for reliable entry-level vehicles that they could afford. This is why the motor company managed to hit sales records after just one year in the marketplace.

The Hyundai Motor Company specialized in economy vehicles until the new millennium. Now, the brand is starting to offer luxury models in many different segments of the market.

One of the higher-end vehicles the automaker produces is the Hyundai Tuscon, which was introduced in 2005. The compact SUV is smaller than the Santa Fe without compromising features.

Crossovers are built on the platform of a sedan. This design is what makes them more maneuverable and easier to handle. Unfortunately, not all small SUVs have excellent safety ratings.

Good safety ratings will help you save money on car insurance. Compare quotes for the coverage you need right here using our free rate tool above. You can compare rates for the vehicle you own now as well as for any models you’re considering.

It has taken many competitors manufacturing the class time to make safer compact crossovers that perform well in accidents. Here’s how Hyundai’s small SUV competes against vehicles made by brands like Buick.

Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent organization that uses scientific evidence to determine how safe vehicles are.

Not all vehicles manufactured today are designed to protect occupants.

It’s crucial for consumers to research safety ratings as well as costs of ownership before buying, and the IIHS helps them do this.

Not only does research help consumers, but it also helps automakers improve their designs. Models that don’t do so well one year could still excel years later after the design is refreshed. This is why the following tests are performed every year a product is released:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlights
  • Child seat anchors (LATCH)

The first five tests are all related to crashworthiness. When the vehicles are tested in the Crash Hall, injury measures recorded by the telematics-equipped dummies will be reviewed and ratings will be assigned.

The Front Crash Prevention ratings are a bit different because they are taken for each trim level available. The IIHS safety ratings that you will see when you compare Hyundai and Buick include:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Frontal Crash Prevention and Avoidance – Superior, Advanced, or Basic


Safety Ratings for the 2017 Hyundai Tuscon

  • Small overlap front crash- Good
  • Moderate overlap front crash- Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head Restraints – Good
  • Front Crash Mitigation – Superior(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Evaluation – Acceptable (with optional equipment)
  • Child Seat Anchor Ease of Use – Acceptable

The Hyundai Tuscon is a five-seater crossover that’s been on the market since 2005. From 2005 to 2015, each trim level tested earned just “Acceptable” and “Poor” ratings. In 2016, with the redesign, the Tuscon surprised consumers by earning “Good” ratings.

The 2017 Hyundai Tuscon is a Top Safety Pick+. It received all “Good” ratings in crashworthiness tests performed to test the front overlap, side, and roof strength.

The Tuscon also exceeded expectations in Front Crash Prevention scores earning all six points when the trim level is outfitted with Automatic Emergency Braking.

The only two areas that the Tuscon did not earn perfect scores were in headlight performance and child seat ease of use.

The vehicle comes with four different headlight variations and the best optional earned an “Acceptable” score. The Tuscon was also rated “Acceptable” for its seat latching system, although the driver-side tether did score “Good.”

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Buick Encore

  • Small overlap front crash- Good
  • Moderate overlap front crash- Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Basic (with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Evaluation – N/A
  • Child Seat Anchor Ease of Use – Marginal

Buick is known for making big-bodied sedans but the automaker did enter the small SUV segment in 2013 with the Encore. The Encore is also a five-seater SUV with similar features to the Tuscon.

Like Hyundai’s model, Buick’s small SUV struggled with scores until the new design was released in 2015.

The 2017 Buick Encore earned all “Good” ratings in crashworthiness except the “Acceptable” rating in driver-side performance. The noticeable difference between the two vehicles is in Front Crash Prevention.

When stocked with Forward Collision Alert Automation, the vehicle earned just 1 point for a “Basic” score.

It’s difficult to compare the Buick and the Hyundai for headlight performance because the Buick Encore wasn’t tested in this area. It was, however, tested for child safety seat LATCH and earned an “Acceptable” score.

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Top Safety Pick+

Not all vehicles are classified as top safety picks. In fact, in 2017 only nine models in the small SUV class were Top Safety Pick+ recipients.

The Hyundai Tuscon is one of the award winners because it earned “Good” ratings, a “Superior” crash prevention score, and an “Acceptable” headlight grade.

Hyundai has been in the SUV segment of the auto industry for much longer than Buick and it shows.

If you compare similar models like the Hyundai Tuscon and the Buick Encore, Hyundai wins the battle as a Top Safety Pick+ with much better safety features.

Auto insurance premiums are strongly influenced by vehicle safety ratings. Insurers companies will use ratings to set classification codes for vehicles so that they can calculate both liability and physical damage premiums.

If you’re shopping for a vehicle, knowing how much you’ll spend on insurance is a must. Use our online comparison tool to get insurance quotes fast.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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