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The 2022 Buick Encore GX is a luxury SUV with excellent safety ratings – but they’re not quite perfect. In fact, while the Encore GX earns the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award, it falls short of earning the non-profit organization’s top honor, the Top Safety Pick+ award. So why doesn’t the Buick Encore GX earn this coveted award?

2014 Buick Encore problems and complaints
2014 Buick Encore | Buick

The 2022 Buick Encore GX is missing out on the Top Safety Pick+ award because of one key area

The 2022 Buick Encore GX has pretty good safety ratings. Most of its main crash test ratings are good, while only a few subcategories ratings are acceptable. Yet there’s one area where the Buick Encore GX falls short, and that’s the headlights. There are two headlight variations for the Encore GX, and neither of them are good. That’s important, because it separates the Encore from earning the Top Safety Pick+ award.

One of the two headlight variations on the 2022 Buick Encore GX are acceptable, while the other are just marginal. Considering that more than half of fatal car accidents happen at night even though there are far fewer vehicles on the road, you want to have good headlights.

The Buick SUV’s Top Safety Pick award is important

The Top Safety Pick+ award has been around since 2013, and it’s given only to vehicles that ace all the safety rating tests. These measure things like crashworthiness, crash prevention, and headlights in vehicles like the 2022 Buick Encore GX.

To win a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must get a good rating in all six crashworthiness categories. It also must have front-crash prevention systems with advanced or superior ratings. At least one headlight system out of all available has to be acceptable or good. To win the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must have good or acceptable headlights standard on every available trim level.

Here’s what the IIHS does

The IIHS is a non-profit that tests vehicles and shares the results of their tests with consumers. This allows people to make informed decisions about what they buy. By issuing safety ratings and awards, consumers are more aware of potential issues with their vehicles. Car manufacturers also have more accountability. The IIHS’ tests have evolved to keep pushing safety standards higher, which is a huge bonus for everyone. That’s why the 2022 Buick Encore GX’s safety ratings are so important.

Although a vehicle winning the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award is a definite positive when you’re car shopping, not all vehicles with these awards are equal. The IIHS says, “These awards identify the best vehicle choices for safety within size categories during a given year. Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones. Thus, a small car that qualifies for an award might not protect its occupants as well as a bigger vehicle that doesn’t earn the award.”

Overall, the 2022 Buick Encore GX has good safety ratings – good enough for it to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick award. Yet the fact that its headlights aren’t good keeps it from winning the Top Safety Pick+ award. If you’re in the market for one of the safest SUVs, you might want to keep looking for something with the whole package.