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

Mitsubishi earned top safety marks from the IIHS in 2017, while Buick did not. The average cost of SUV auto insurance is 18% higher than other vehicles.

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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 9, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Small Suburban Utility Vehicles provide a compromise between size and ease of control as they are significantly lighter than typical SUVs
  • Buick is an American auto manufacturer that produces upscale vehicles such as the Encore model
  • Mitsubishi Outlander is a small SUV that first came out in 2001 when the Japanese brand presented this vehicle’s impressive all-season abilities
  • A non-profit organization, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is one of the most popular testing agencies that will assess how safe are new vehicles

Typical SUVs come with impressive abilities to transport over 6 people, have a strong engine, and good fuel efficiency. Those who are not willing to drive a 5,000-pound car, however, can look into the market for mid-size or smaller SUVs.

These vehicles meet halfway between size and simple driving that will not expose one to the difficulty of control.

Since there is a substantial market for SUVs of all sizes, there are many companies that serve as a checking point for manufacturers, and ensure that only safe vehicles get released into the market. One such company is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Compare car insurance quotes right here to find the coverage you desire for the best price.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Institute, or the IIHS, was formed in 1959 and tests vehicles in their high-tech facility in Virginia. The IIHS is funded by large insurance corporations and operates as a non-profit service company that adds value to various brands by reinforcing their credibility.

There are three areas that the Institute assesses vehicles:

  • crashworthiness
  • crash avoidance and mitigation
  • Child LATCH

They test the ability of a car to withhold an accident and provide a safe survival environment in a test called crashworthiness. This test is broken down into the following areas:

  • Small Driver and Passenger Overlap Test
  • Moderate Overlap Test
  • Roof’s Strength-to-Weight ratio
  • Side Impact
  • Head and Neck Restraints

Next, the ability of a car to prevent an accident, if applicable, is examined through a low, 12-mph and high, 25-mph evaluation. This is called the crash prevention category and the ratings for it are basic, advanced, or superior.

Lastly, the child anchors assessment is the only test that will not require physical damage to the vehicle. The LATCH systems are observed by specialists who evaluate their accessibility and grade them as poor, marginal, acceptable, or good.

The same rating scale is used for crashworthiness.


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Mitsubishi Outlander Versus Buick Encore

One of the famous Japanese brands, Mitsubishi, has entered the small SUV market a long time ago. Their small, four-door SUV model Outlander is a great example of efficiency and high-quality engineering.

Similarly, the American subdivision of General Motors, Buick, creates upscale cars such as Encore. The beauty of this model is that it provides hints of a large SUV while keeping it small enough for nearly everyone to easily control.


Outlander did not have a score for the passenger-side small overlap test as it was released before the IIHS started doing this test. Encore, however, received an “acceptable” rating that is a great success given that the brand did not know this is something that will be tested.

The other five areas were all rated “good” for both cars.

The roof’s strength-to-weight ratios exceeded four, airbag deployment saved the dummy’s head from hitting the glass or instrument panel, there was a minimum intrusion to the driver’s survival space, and the risk of injuries to the lower body was small.

Crash Prevention and Mitigation

The Japanese vehicle did extremely well in this area as it was given six out of six points that equaled a superior rating. Its auto brake and motion sensors worked well together and both collisions were prevented, in the 12-mph and the 25-mph scenarios.

Buick Encore, on the other hand, had a lot of room for growth as it only received one point for its forward-collision warning system. 

The auto brake was not available for the other two tests and the brand topped at the “basic” rating which will disqualify it from both awards that the Institute gives out. Therefore, Mitsubishi won this category with a sizeable margin.

As a part of the crash prevention category, headlight abilities also get evaluated. After obtaining a poor grade for headlights last year, Encore had no score applicable in 2017. Outlander received an “acceptable” grade due to some issues with left gradual curve visibility.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

Small SUVs are a convenient choice for newly-founded families that do not have a lot of children. Nevertheless, these parents will still need latches to connect the child seats, given that laws prohibit children to ride around outside of a special seat.

For these two models, the Institute noted how the only two issues with the anchors were:

  • The existence of other hardware that can be mistaken for an anchor
  • They were too deep in the seat

Therefore, the score that Encore and Outlander received was acceptable.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+

In order to qualify for either of these awards, a model must have perfect crashworthiness and an advanced/superior crash prevention abilities. Buick did not meet the crash prevention test standards, so it was not given any of these recognitions.

Outlander, however, passed both of these thresholds and also got an acceptable headlight rating. This qualified it for the Top Safety Pick Plus award.

Due to a lack of scores in the headlight area and a basic rating in the crash prevention category, the Buick model came short to the performance of its Japanese competitor.

Mitsubishi exercised a superior 12-mph and 25-mph test and received an acceptable rating for its headlights which cemented its victory.

Importantly, drivers purchasing one of these two SUVs should take other costs into consideration. Insurance is a prime example of a non-avoidable expense that can be very high.

The calculation of a premium is done by assessing the driver’s accident, and ticket history, age, and location, and so on.

Since a lot of companies provide liability insurance, new drivers might be looking at hours of research to find the best fit.

To avoid that, one can simply use online websites with multi-company comparisons and review dozens of quotes simultaneously. This way, the best option will be found a lot faster! Enter your zip code below to get started.

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