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Are you hesitant to buy a small SUV because you’re worried about safety? If so, you’re not alone. These diminutive vehicles don’t look as sturdy as larger models. However, that doesn’t mean all subcompact SUVs are unsafe. The 2021 Buick Encore may provide the safety you would expect from an SUV, but that just may be where the line ends.

The Encore is known for reliability, but dependability and safety don’t always go hand-in-hand. While the 2021 Buick Encore may be a smart long-term purchase, it may not offer the most protection – at least according to some critics.

The 2021 Buick Encore provides everything one would expect in a subcompact SUV. However, in such a crowded segment, being average doesn’t always pay off. Many buyers are attracted to vehicles that offer more bells and whistles and sometimes overlook more critical factors. So, just where does the Encore fall in such a packed segment? 

Let’s take a closer look at everything the 2021 Buick Encore has to offer. Is this car worth adding to your list of potential purchases? Let’s find out. 

How safe is the 2021 Buick Encore?

A black 2021 Buick Encore on display in front of mountain range
The 2021 Buick Encore on display | Photo via General Motors

Many drivers are under the impression that SUVs are automatically safer than smaller cars. This may be why you see more young families and commuters gravitating toward more spacious vehicles. However, this assumption, while well-intentioned, may not always be correct.

There are industry experts who specialize in safety, and it’s best to trust these organizations to assess a vehicle’s safety acumen. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a government agency that conducts crash tests on the latest models.

The NHTSA awarded the 2021 Buick Encore a five-star overall safety rating. The subcompact SUV scored perfect ratings in the front and side crash tests. However, it only earned four stars in the rollover test, and the NHTSA gave it a 19.8% rollover risk.

Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent organization, wasn’t as keen on the Encore. It failed to recognize the 2021 Buick Encore with any safety awards, and it identified several problem spots.

The IIHS gave the Encore top marks in five of its six crashworthiness tests. However, it only awarded the vehicle an “adequate” rating in its test for small overlap front crashes on the passenger side.

Additionally, the 2021 Buick Encore earned a “marginal” rating for its headlights and an “adequate” score for its LATCH system.

Does the Encore come standard with active driver-assist features?

Buick markets the 2021 Encore as an upscale subcompact SUV. However, an absence of standard safety systems explains the Encore’s lack of popularity

This model only comes standard with a rearview camera, and its list of available technologies isn’t too extensive. Thankfully, adding active driver-assistance technologies won’t cost you too much extra money. 

First, you’ll need to upgrade to the Preferred trim level, which has a starting MSRP of $25,595. From there, you can equip the Safety Package ($495) to gain blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Meanwhile, adding the Safety Package II ($695) affords you a lane-departure warning system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a forward-collision warning system, and front and rear parking sensors.

Is Buick’s smallest SUV the safest choice in its class?

The 2021 Buick Encore delivers a mediocre safety performance in every sense. While there isn’t anything particularly wrong with the model, it certainly isn’t the brightest star in the sea of its competition. If you’re looking for a vehicle that stands out, you would do well to look at the safety-focused Mazda CX-3.


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