Improvements to its structure have helped the 2015 Buick Encore, a subcompact crossover, earn a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Encore's lower-priced twin, the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, also received the Top Safety Pick designation.
Related: 2015 Chevrolet Trax Expert Review
The 2015 Encore received the top score of good in small- and moderate-overlap crash tests as well as side-impact, roof-strength and seat tests. The 2013-14 Encore rated good in four crash tests, but earmed the lowest score of poor in the small-overlap front crash test, which simulates the car's front corner colliding with a vehicle or a utility pole. This difficult test has caused many automakers to redesign their vehicles to provide better front crash protection.
To be named a Top Safety Pick, a car must receive a rating of good or acceptable in the small-overlap crash test as well as a good score in the remaining tests.
IIHS' highest award, the Top Safety Pick Plus, takes into account not only the crash-test scores but also if a vehicle has a frontal-crash prevention system. To earn the honor, a car's prevention system must receive a ranking of superior or advanced. The 2015 Encore earned the lowest rating of basic because it has an optional forward collision warning system. The Trax doesn't offer a forward collision warning system.