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Is Volkswagen’s safety rating for large SUVs better than Buick’s?

Things to remember...

  • Large SUVs have changed their appearance but retained the main attribute that appeals to the customers: size
  • Driving a large SUV implies having perfect control over 5,000 pounds or more
  • To ensure that all the standards are kept high, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performs tests that reflect common situations from the real-world
  • Preventing death can be caused by stopping models with unfitting safety features from entering the market

Large SUVs were primarily introduced as work vehicles that were able to transport raw materials in large quantities. As technology got better and jobs more modern, people were shifting towards careers that have little to do with manual labor.

Thus, large SUVs main purpose was now to transport common households to their daily errands.

As the demand has moved from labor contractors to families with children, one can say that safety has gained a lot in its importance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) can attest, however, that there are many brands working harder than the others to make sure their SUVs are extremely safe to utilize.

The way that this Institute performs the evaluation is based on tri-criteria that includes:

  •  crashworthiness of a vehicle
  • its ability to prevent a crash
  • its child seat anchors’ effectiveness and positioning

Ratings for the child seat anchors as well as the crashworthiness can be good, acceptable, moderate, or poor, and the crash prevention is quantified as basic, advanced, or superior.

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Table of Contents

Volkswagen Touareg Versus Buick Enclave

To facilitate a fair comparison with parallels between German-make models of Volkswagen and the American-owned model, all three categories will be thoroughly looked at before declaring a winner.


As the first test is conducted, one can notice that neither one of the models has been assessed for the small overlap front test.

The most relevant testing procedure was omitted, thus no valid conclusions about the ability to maintain the survival space of the dummy can be drawn.

The other four categories, which include the moderate front test, side and roof strength, and head restraints, were reviewed as “good” for both Touareg and Enclave.

Volkswagen’s model had a slightly better roof strength-to-weight ratio with 4.72 to 4.0. This could be credited to the fact that Buick weighs a little more, although that is not a solid excuse.

On side impact, both models preserved the driver’s head and neck with rapid-deployment airbags that prevent the head from hitting any hard objects or the glass. Ultimately, the category was not a clear-cut win for either vehicle as they equalized on most of the ratings.

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Crash Prevention and Mitigation

This time, Volkswagen showcased a greater ability to avoid an accident than its competitor. The battle yielded a three to one score meaning that both models failed to get all six points for the category.

Buick only possessed an ability to issue a frontal collision warning, while Touareg slowed the car down by 10 mph in the 12 mph test on top of its collision alert.

Both cars failed the 25-mph test which led to a collision, thus demonstrating a lack of skills to apply auto-brake triggered by safety sensors.

There is a lot of room for improvements for both SUVs if the manufacturers want the families to continue placing their children’s lives in these companies’ hands. Objectively speaking, Volkswagen won by a very tiny margin. Both vehicles lacked in the headlights test.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

The last category interrupts the mini-streak of German manufacturer’s victories in the comparison thus far. Buick received an acceptable rating for its latch positioning which was driven down only by the fact that it was too deep in the seat.

This still beats the Touareg’s latch test as it had no score available whatsoever. Buick had two rear seating positions with a complete child seat anchor and one seat that only had a tether anchor, and there is no way to find out how this compares to its European rival.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+

Unfortunately, as a vehicle must get all five “good” crashworthiness categories to qualify for a Top Safety Pick/Plus award, neither SUV here was recognized.

An example of a vehicle that was safe enough to claim this award was the Audi Q7 that enjoyed perfect crashworthiness scores and a superior crash prevention ability.

From an evidence-based standpoint, it is very hard to declare a winner of this match-up. Volkswagen Touareg outperformed in the area of crash prevention and roof strength, but it also lacked results for the LATCH test where Buick Enclave delivered.

Therefore, one could say that Volkswagen won by a margin so tiny that it is almost negligible.

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  1. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/about-us
  2. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/crash-testing-and-crashworthiness/topicoverview
  3. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/front-crash-prevention-tests
  4. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/LATCH-evaluation
  5. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings
  6. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/volkswagen/touareg-4-door-suv/2017?print-view
  7. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/buick/enclave-4-door-suv/2017?print-view

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