2015 Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax Named IIHS Top Safety Pick After Structural Updates
New Buick Encore Tester Improves Significantly Over 2013 Test
Thanks to some structural changes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2015 Buick Encore a Top Safety Pick. The ratings apply for both the Encore and the Chevrolet Trax, which is the Buick’s mechanical and structural twin.
The Encore was first tested as a 2013 model, earning good ratings in the moderate overlap front offset test, the side impact test, the roof-strength test, and the headrest and restraint system test, but it was kept from being named a Top Safety Pick by its poor performance in the small overlap front offset test.
As you can see from the photos, both the silver and the grey 2013 Encores suffered from somewhat weak front structures that didn’t leave much survival space for the driver. Additionally, in the 2013 test, the steering column swung away from the driver (reducing the effectiveness of the front airbag), and the side-curtain airbag deployed too late to provide adequate protection for the dummy.
However, updates to the front and side architecture (including the engine compartment, side body structure, and front suspension components) of the 2015 Encore significantly improved its performance in the test. The blue test vehicle shows a substantial improvement in the driver’s survival space, and the steering column and dashboard intrude far less into the cabin, helping improve the airbag’s effectiveness. Additionally, the side-curtain airbag deployed sooner, further improving safety. The new Encore received the IIHS's highest rating of "good" for the small overlap test.
To be named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn good scores on all tests except the difficult small overlap evaluation, where the lower acceptable rating is, um, acceptable. Since the improved body structure helped the Encore score better on the small overlap test, the 2015 model has been added to the ever-expanding list of safer vehicles.
Since the Encore shares almost everything except sheetmetal and interior trim with the new Chevrolet Trax compact crossover, the IIHS says the good safety ratings apply to the Bow Tie as well. That’s excellent news for one of the fastest-growing segments in the automotive industry.
Parenthetically, both the front- and all-wheel-drive 2015 Encores earned a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety