At one time, the compelling attributes for new cars were horsepower and acceleration, but lately, safety and fuel economy have taken top billing, especially in the SUV market, where the vehicles are largely purchased by families for their practicality, and reputation for safety. The 2013 Buick Encore compact crossover scored well on the two well-established safety benchmarks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash tests, where it received a five-star overall rating, and got the Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

However, the Encore came up short on the new IIHS Top Safety Pick + standard, which adds a frontal-offset crash to the mix. For that specific test, the Encore received a "poor" rating. However, many of the Encore's competitors also did not fare especially well in the new test, with the Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tucson also receiving a poor rating. The Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 received a "marginal" rating, and only the 2014 Subaru Forester and 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport have received the full Top Safety Pick + designation, with the Forester receiving the top "Good" rating, and the Mitsubishi getting an "Acceptable" score.

The frontal-offset crash is an especially difficult standard to meet, as it tests an area of structural rigidity that has not been subject to direct scrutiny until recently. The test consists of a frontal offset crash at 40 mph into a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier.

Source: Buick, IIHS