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

When it comes to small SUVs and safety, Toyota’s RAV4 Tops the list of Top Safety Picks in 2017. Buick’s Encore has the worst rating for front-end crashes.

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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...

  • Toyota’s RAV4 Tops the list of Top Safety Picks for small SUVs in 2017
  • Buick’s Encore didn’t receive an IIHS award for safety
  • Buick’s Encore has the worst rating for front-end crashes

Shopping for a new car that meets all the requirements on your list of must-have’s can be a challenge with so many options.

The small SUV market is inundated with comparable vehicles that are safe, reliable, and aesthetically appealing to consumers, and that makes the process much more difficult.

It often comes down to price and overall safety when buyers are looking at vehicles with the same features, which is a very common problem between the Buick Encore and the Toyota RAV4.

Both vehicles fit up to five people and both feature a sleek exterior as well as a myriad of interior options. Priced similarly, it’s sometimes the safety rating issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) consumers check before making a final decision.

It helps that the small SUVs with high safety ratings are also less expensive to insure, which makes the decision even easier. Compare car insurance rates to see what kind of a difference a good safety rating will make in your premiums. Enter your zip code above to begin.

How are vehicles rated for safety?

The IIHS purchases vehicles every year from manufacturers to test. They’re crashed, driven, and tested from top to bottom, and each one is issued a rating once the tests are complete.

The IIHS is not the same as the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and their safety ratings, but both are great resources when looking to find the best possible vehicle in the small SUV category.

The IIHS breaks down all vehicles into three separate classes and then subcategorizes those classes.

  • Crashworthiness is broken down to test the small and moderate front overlap, side and roof strength, and the head restraints and seats.
  • The crash avoidance and mitigation class is broken down to front crash prevention and headlights
  • Child seat anchors are broken down only into the LATCH category

Each individual subcategory is given a grade, much like the grades you received in school. The best is a “G” rating that means good, followed by “A” for acceptable, “M” for marginal, and “P” for poor.

If a vehicle receives a “G” rating, it’s the best possible rating available, and it can make or break a consumer’s decision to buy a car.


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Toyota RAV4 Is a 2017 Top Safety Pick+

The Toyota RAV4 is awarded the highest possible safety rating by the IIHS, which means you’re not only driving a safe small SUV but one that might be worth an insurance discount in some offices.

This vehicle has all “G” ratings save for two different categories. The headlights are only rated with an “A” and the small overlap on the front passenger side has a “P” rating. It’s marginally counteracted by the “G” rating the small overlap in the front driver side received.

When tested for front crash prevention, the Toyota RAV4 received a superior rating at the highest level. The vehicle handles front-end crashes well without causing as much damage or potential injury to those in the vehicle.

If nothing else, this is one of the most important things to look at when you buy a car.

Buick Encore Safety Rating

The Buick Encore,while part of a brand that pushes the boundaries to be classified as a luxury car manufacturer, did not receive any awards from the IIHS in terms of being a top safety pick.

The Encore features “G” ratings in all categories other than the latch and the small overlap on the front passenger side. Both received “A” ratings, which are not terrible.

In fact, the “A” rating the Buick received in the front overlap on the passenger side is much higher than the “P” rating the Toyota received.

However, when crash-tested from the front, the Buick received the lowest level basic rating, and only when it was equipped with some of the optional features Buick offers.

This low rating caused this small SUV to fall significantly in terms of safety picks and features, and it also makes the Toyota RAV4 the clear winner in terms of better safety picks.

Insuring Small SUVs

It’s clear the winner of the safety rating competition is the Toyota when compared to the Buick in both safety and insurance rates.

The Toyota RAV4 has a top safety rating, which means insurance companies are more likely to insure it for less than the Buick.

Insurance is mandatory in every state, which only makes it more important you find the best rates for your small SUV.

Other factors to consider might be your personal life situation, too. Retired drivers, drivers with multiple vehicles on one policy, and drivers who have a clean driving history can ask for a much better rate than other drivers.

You have room to negotiate your rates with various companies, which means you’ll pay far less for your insurance premium.

Driving a vehicle with a top safety pick is important, but not every feature is important to every driver. People without kids might not care at all what the LATCH system is like, and people who don’t drive at night might not care what the headlights do.

These are personal decisions everyone has to make, but the IIHS wants to try and make finding the safest vehicle easier for all consumers.

Compare car insurance quotes to see which of these vehicles could save you the most on coverage. Enter your zip code below to begin.

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