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Is Hyundai’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Volkswagen’s?

Things to remember...

  • The Hyundai Tucson is the highest-rated vehicle for safety in its class
  • The Volkswagen Tiguan and the Tucson are priced similarly
  • The Hyundai Tucson was awarded this highest safety award in the current model year

There are 23 small SUVs on the market in the current model year, but only one can take the top spot for being the safest SUV on the market.

It’s the Hyundai Tucson, but it’s also important to note this vehicle is tied with the Kia Sportage in all safety ratings for the title of safest small SUV on the market.

If you’re shopping for a small SUV, you might consider safety the most important feature in a new vehicle. However, you might also want to know how the vehicle you are considering stacks up against the safest small SUV in its class.

If it’s the Volkswagen Tiguan you’re looking to buy, you’ll want to know how it compares to the Hyundai Tucson in terms of its safety features and other options. The price of these two small SUVs is similar.

The starting price for the Tucson is approximately $22k while the Tiguan is approximately $24k.

Fuel economy is similar, but it’s the size that really matters. When comparing various dimensions of these two SUVs, the Hyundai Tucson takes the win for most space in most categories. The VW has the superior towing capacity, though.

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Table of Contents

What kind of safety features are rated in small SUVs?

Safety features rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are specific. The IIHS rates vehicles in three main categories with their own set of subcategories all with a letter grade.

Only the front crash prevention is rated using something other than a letter grade. It’s rated with a grade of basic, advanced, or superior.

The main functions tested when a vehicle is rated by the IIHS are the crashworthiness, child seat anchors, and the crash avoidance and mitigation. They are given letter grades as follows:

  • “G” for good
  • “A” for acceptable
  • “M” for marginal
  • “P” for poor

Only the child LATCH is tested in the child seat anchor category, and headlights and front crash preventional abilities are tested in the crash mitigation category.

To determine the crashworthiness of a vehicle, the IIHS tests how well the small and moderate front overlaps hold up in accidents.

The IIHS also tests the strength of both the side and the roof of a small SUV. Finally, the IIHS tests the head restraints and seats for performance abilities in case of an accident.

If a small SUV is rated well in specific safety tests, it’s given an award from the IIHS. It can earn a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus award, both of which allow you to save significantly on the overall cost of insurance.

Perfect scores in the crashworthiness category, as well as an advanced or better rating in front crash testing, provides a vehicle with a Top Safety Pick award.

The added feature of headlights with an acceptable rating or better provides small SUVs with the Top Safety Pick Plus award.

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Hyundai Tucson vs. Volkswagen Tiguan

Both vehicles share many similarities, but only one is the best-rated small SUV for safety in its class. That’s the Hyundai. The VW didn’t win any awards, and it wasn’t tested for front crash prevention.

This score made it impossible for this SUV to win any awards, though it didn’t test well enough in all categories to have earned one regardless.

Hyundai Tucson

The safest vehicle in its class, this small SUV has it all. It has perfect scores in all but two areas. The headlights are acceptable, and the LATCH system is also acceptable.

These are great scores even if they aren’t perfect. This is a Top Safety Pick Plus award recipient, which means it gets the best insurance discounts available.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Unfortunately, the VW is located quite far down the list of safest small SUVs. It performed poorly in the small overlap front and headlight categories, and it was not rated for its front crash prevention qualities.

The LATCH system, however, received an acceptable rating. It also received “G” ratings in the remainder of the vehicle’s crashworthiness categories.

What do I really want from my small SUV?

As for what you want in a small SUV, that’s personal. Some people prefer more style, some prefer a luxury logo, while space is the most important factor for others.

Safety is always a major part of the decision-making process, but there are other considerations to make when shopping for a small SUV.

The long-term cost is a consideration you must never forget. What appears cheaper upfront might not always be cheaper later.

Prior to buying a new car, call your car insurance company to see the cost of insuring different vehicles on your list. Now compare rates with various insurance companies to see if you can get better rates with a new company.

Fuel economy, repairs, warranties, and even the cost of adding your future teen drivers to your insurance policies all play a role in the long-term affordability of your new SUV.

Additionally, you must consider the trim you’re considering. If you want added features such as sunroofs, leather seats, and entertainment systems, you’re looking at a bigger price tag at purchase.

Taking the time to make a list of each want you have versus the overall cost can help you make a more informed decision.

A longer factory warranty is always helpful, a car with better gas mileage is great if you drive often, and one with all the little luxuries you prefer is more important than other factors if you spend ample time in your car.

Make a list, compare your priorities, and buy the car you really want.

Compare car insurance quotes for the vehicles you’re considering and see which one offers better rates with different insurers. Enter your zip code below to begin.


  1. https://www.hyundaiusa.com/tucson/index.aspx
  2. http://www.vw.com/models/tiguan/
  3. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/v/class-summary/small-suvs
  4. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/05/suvs-are-safer-than-cars-in-front-crashes-but-there-is-more-to-the-story/index.htm
  5. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/suvs/buying-guide

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