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

The Subaru Forester received a higher safety rating than the Buick Encore in recent tests. For a normal SUV, auto insurance costs average around $125/mo.

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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 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The Subaru Forester was the first small SUV by the brand and it was released in 1999
  • All of the Foresters released have earned ‘Good’ ratings in primary crash tests
  • In 2017, the Forester earned the Top Safety Pick+ award because of evaluation rankings and crash test performance
  • The Subaru Forester has earned significantly better scores than the Buick Encore

Subaru’s a respected automaker with a history that can be traced all the way back to the 1950s when the P-1 concept car was developed.

If you take a look at the manufacturer’s product line up, you’ll be able to see that innovation has been a priority since way back. From the mini prototypes and pickups to the sedans and vans, Subaru has never specialized in just one kind of class.

While the company still makes compacts and full-size sedans, more of a focus is now being placed in the small SUV segment.

With crossover sales on the rise and sedan sales steadily declining, it’s easy to see why there are a lot of competitors looking for ways to make smaller and more efficient sport utility vehicles. Subaru has done this with the Forester, which made its debut way back in 1999.

There’s no denying that improvements in both electronic and manufacturing technologies have made it possible for long-standing car makers like Subaru to develop cars full of features for less.

That doesn’t always mean that the cars or SUVs will be safe. That’s why comparing safety ratings between makes is a must.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re comparing the Subaru Forester to the Buick Encore:

Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

One of the primary missions set by IIHS is to evaluate a car’s crashworthiness in an effort to improve designs in the future.

The whole idea is to inform car markers and their consumers so that changes can be made in production and in purchasing habits.

Crashworthiness is evaluated by performing each of the front, side, and roof tests below:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side strength
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlight visibility and glare
  • Child seat latch accessibility and ease of use

After the crash tests and the evaluation of headlight systems and child seat anchors are reviewed, all of the data is compiled and measures are made so that ratings can be assigned, with ‘Good’ being the best rating available.

If sufficient scores are achieved the car may earn a Top Safety Pick award, which can help the brand attract a wider spread audience.

The ratings you’ll see when comparing the Subaru to the Buick include:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Frontal Crash Prevention and Automated Braking Systems – Superior, Advanced, or Basic

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Subaru Forester

  • Small overlap front crash (driver-side)– Good
  • Small overlap front crash (passenger-side)– Marginal
  • Moderate overlap front crash– Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head and Seat Restraints – Good
  • Front Crash Mitigation and Prevention – Superior 6 out of 6 points(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Visibility and Glare – Acceptable(with optional equipment)
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Acceptable

Subaru is dedicated to selling safe vehicles and that shows in the history of the safety ratings for the Subaru Forester. Since it debuted in 1999, it’s easy to assume that the single Moderate Overlap Front crash test ratings would be poor at first.

In actuality, The Forester earned ‘Good’ ratings and each and every primary crash test conducted since its release. That’s not something that you see often.

The 2017 Subaru Forester earns a Top Safety Pick+ award because of its excellent performance in crash tests. With ‘Good’ ratings in front crash, side crash, and roof strength tests, it is a vehicle that you can feel safe in.]

The only area that needs focus on is the driver-side front crash test, where the failure to maintain the cabin could affect survival rates. This lead to a ‘Marginal’ rating.

Crash mitigation features are a new focus. The IIHS will see how quickly a car with automated features can avoid an accident.

According to the reports, cars equipped with EyeSight met the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s criteria and earned a 6 out of 6 in the evaluation for a ‘Superior’ score. Both the headlights and child seat anchors were graded as ‘Acceptable’.

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Buick Encore

  • Small overlap front crash (driver-side)– Good
  • Small overlap front crash (passenger-side)– Acceptable
  • Moderate overlap front crash– Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head and Seat Restraints – Good
  • Front Crash Mitigation and Prevention – Basic 1 out of 6 points(with optional equipment)
  • Headlight Visibility and Glare – N/A
  • Child Seat Anchor Ease of Use – Acceptable

The Buick Encore hasn’t been around as long as the Forester. It also hasn’t maintained great IIHS safety rating scores since it’s debut.

When the Encore first hit lots, it earned ‘Poor’ driver-side small overlap front scores. In 2015, this was improved and the score was changed to ‘Good’.

The 2017 Buick Encore didn’t do so awful in the crash tests but it didn’t fare well in the evaluations.

While the 2017 model year earned all ‘Good’ crashworthiness ratings aside from the ‘Acceptable’ passenger-side score, the crash prevention rating wasn’t so positive.

In fact, the Buick earned 1 out of 6 points in the evaluation of Premium Trim models. The ‘Acceptable’ child seat latch score matches that of the Subaru.

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Top Safety Pick+

The Subaru Forester has been a Top Safety Pick since 2007. The automaker is so committed to safety and enforcing vehicles that it has qualified for the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award because of the model product occupants and offers prevention technology to thwart accidents. The Buick did not qualify for an award.

Does Subaru make a safer small SUV than Buick?


It’s obvious to see that Subaru currently makes the safer small SUV. Buick hasn’t been offering a comparable option for very long so it might take time for the luxury brand to make the necessary tweaks.

If you’re buying a Subaru or any car for that matter, get online auto insurance quotes to find the best premiums. Compare rates now with our free quote tool below!

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