Not terribly surprising, the 2013 Buick Encore has earned good marks in a recent wave of both government and private safety testing. Crashed at the behest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2013 Buick Encore has scored an overall four-star rating for front-wheel drive models and the maximum five stars for models equipped with all-wheel drive.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has named the Buick Encore one of its 2013 “Top Safety Picks,” meaning that it, too, thinks the little crossover is quite a safe vehicle. But unlike the NHTSA, the IIHS isn’t about to give the Encore its highest marks. Last August, the IIHS became tired of its safety testing becoming an “Everybody gets a trophy!” award. Subsequently, it created the IIHS “Top Safety Pick+” award, which the Encore didn’t get. Instead of crashing a vehicle halfway into a wall, the new test crashes less of a vehicle into the same wall at the same speed, putting more force onto a smaller portion of the vehicle. Most vehicles haven’t done well in this test; the Encore is among those mediocre performers, scoring a “Poor” in small overlap or narrow front offset testing.
What does that mean? We’re not quite sure yet, except to say that GM could still improve the design for crashing. During our drive of the 2013 Buick Encore, we lauded the subcompact crossover for its smooth ride, refinement, and heap of features, which include 10 airbags, forward collision warning, and blind spot detection. Of course, we didn’t crash it, so we can’t tell you anything more about how it does in those circumstances than what the IIHS and NHTSA are reporting. All we criticized it for was its severe lack of power.