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

The IIHS gave the Kia Sportage a higher safety rating than Buick SUV's in recent studies. The rate of auto insurance is around 18% more for some 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 22, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Kia Sportage is tied for the position of safest small SUV on the market
  • The Buick Encore has no safety rating awards
  • The Kia is worth ample savings for insurance rates

If you’re shopping for a small SUV and wondering how you can fit it into the household budget, don’t forget to shop for car insurance rates along with a new vehicle.

The biggest mistake you can make in the budget is assuming your new car payment is right where it needs to be only to find out your insurance rates skyrocket because of what you’re driving.

If you’re comparing the Kia Sportage to the Buick Encore, be especially careful. One of these small SUVs is less expensive to insure than the other.

Use our FREE quote comparison tool to find car insurance rates today!

How are car insurance rates determined?


It’s an excellent question asked often by those in need of a new car. You want to drive what you love, but you know it’s expensive to add insurance into the mix.

Understanding the answer to this question can help you understand what you want to drive that’s affordable and cost-effective. Your car insurance rates are never the same as another driver because it’s not all about the car.

Vehicles with great safety ratings issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are often less expensive to insure because they are less expensive to repair following an accident.

However, your own driving record, your own credit score, the mileage you put on your car annually, where you live, what you do, and even if you have insurance coverage gaps are all factors in determining the rates you pay for insurance.

You can’t help your past driving record or your past insurance gaps, but you can handle your credit score, the neighborhood in which you live, what you do for a living, and how much you drive to lower your rates.

You can also shop around for better rates to get the most bang for your buck.

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Kia vs. Buick


If you really want to find a discount for your insurance, you want to drive the vehicle that has the best safety ratings.

That’s the Kia Sportage. It’s a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award-winning small SUV, and it’s tied for the safest small SUV out of 23 on the market currently. The Buick Encore did not win any safety ratings this year.

Kia Sportage

The 2017 Kia Sportage is a safe small SUV. It has near perfect scores across the board with “G” ratings in all crashworthiness tests, a perfect score of superior in the front crash prevention, and “A” ratings in both the headlights and the latch categories.

Buick Encore

The Encore certainly did not perform poorly, but it didn’t do as well as the Kia and it has no awards. The Encore has “G” ratings across the board for its crashworthiness testing and an “A” in the latch category.

It was not rated for headlights, and it received a very low basic rating on the front crash prevention.


What do these safety ratings mean?

Now that you’re aware the Kia is tied for the safest small SUV on the market, you might want to know precisely what that means and how it all works.

Each vehicle is rated in three different sections, which are then broken down into separate sections of their own for better clarification.

  • Small front overlap, moderate front overlap, side, roof, head restraints, and seats make up the crashworthiness category
  • Front crash prevention and headlights make up the crash avoidance and mitigation category
  • Child safety latch makes up the child seat anchor category

Once each small SUV is crashed, it’s evaluated to see how well it performed during each test.

Each area of the vehicle is studied, tested, and evaluated for damage, for potential harm, and how poorly or well it performed during the crash.

Once this occurs, each section is given a letter grade. There are four of them, and they go from best to worse:

  • Good is “G”
  • Acceptable is “A”
  • Marginal is “M”
  • Poor is “P”

Top Safety Pick Awards


The Kia Sportage is a Top Safety Pick Plus award-winning SUV, and many people want to know what that means.

Once the IIHS is done with its testing on each vehicle, it can offer the vehicle two prestigious awards depending on safety criteria met in each test.

The first is the Top Safety Pick award. It requires perfect “G” ratings in crashworthiness, and the vehicle cannot score below advanced in the front crash prevention.

If a vehicle meets these criteria and has an “A” or “G” rating in the headlight system, it’s issued a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

The headlights are a newly graded feature, and the IIHS has come to realize they are substandard in most vehicles.

That’s why the IIHS provides an even more prestigious award for safety to any vehicle with a great rating on the headlights. They’re a necessity, but they’re not where they should be in many vehicles.

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Shopping For A New SUV

Drive what you want, but don’t forget the importance of considering additional costs when buying a new SUV.

Fuel costs, repairs, and even the cost of replacement parts such as tires are all factors you must consider when shopping for a new vehicle.

Comparison shopping is key, and it’s just added help to have stellar safety ratings behind your insurance quotes. Use our FREE quote comparison tool to find car insurance rates today!

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

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