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

When comparing Audi and Volkswagen large SUVs, there's no contest. The Audi Q7 outperformed the Volkswagen Touareg in every single category.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Large SUVs are becoming the mainstream form of transportation characterized by comfort and powerful engines.
  • The size of these vehicles can be one of the main selling points in the eyes of the market, although it may come at a cost of safety due to enormous weight hiding in the infrastructure of the vehicle.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests every vehicle in action to properly evaluate the safety
  • Audi and Volkswagen are some of the major brands in the automotive market

As people become more educated, they base their decision-making process on the future benefits over current advantages. This is why large SUVs have been able to take over the market by storm.

Modern-day families look to obtain transportation that will enable them to fit multiple people, as many as seven or eight to be precise, has the potential of a race car with hundreds of horse-powers, and state-of-the-art features packed in a modern cabin.

Blindsided by the gains, however, many drivers overlook some safety issues that these vehicles might have. These safety issues arise as a part of an SUV’s 5,000 pounds or more frame which can be very difficult to control in poor weather conditions.

New drivers unfamiliar with the driving principles of large vehicles and not formal experience can further be potent on the road.

IIHS is a preventive agency that works to ensure cars on the road have met all the necessary safety requirements. They apply real-life tests such as full-frontal collisions and review the following areas:

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Audi Versus Volkswagen

As a part of the standard testing procedure, one can get a better frame of reference by comparing multiple vehicles. To that end, Audi’s latest Q7 model will verse the Volkswagen brand new Touareg model.

The comparison will be based on the previously mentioned criteria that IIHS implements.


The grades for crashworthiness can be good, acceptable, moderate, or poor.

Depending on the roof and side strength, front moderate and small overlap collision results, as well as the head restraints performance, a vehicle will be graded with one of the four scores. As far as Q7 goes, it achieved outstanding results across all of these categories.

Its results, the likes of which are rarely seen, reflect nearly perfect ability to maintain safe survival space, prevent injuries, preserve head and neck position with airbags, and more.

Thus, Audi received five “good” scores on its tests for crashworthiness. The Volkswagen Touareg, however, did not get any score on its small overlap front test which might indicate that it was not performed.

The lack of it undermines the vehicle’s ability to preserve the driver during a crash even though the other four tests were all rated “good.” Nonetheless, both cars came very close as Q7 dominated Touareg because of Volkswagen’s lack of a small overlap test.


Crash Prevention & Mitigation

This test’s rating is based on basic, advanced, and superior performance. Once again, Audi came in for the top-notch results as it got all six points.

The 12-mph test was passed when Q7 completely avoided the collision by slowing down automatically, courtesy of its auto-brake system and detectors. The 25-mph test resulted in a 23 mph speed reduction which also facilitated a crash avoidance.

Volkswagen seemed to be on the same track as Audi until the 25-mph test was performed. It scored no points in this part of the evaluation as it only slowed down by one mph.

Thus, Q7 won with a six to three score and a superior to advanced grade.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

The last test goes back to the same grading criteria used in crashworthiness. Vehicles are tested for LATCH visibility, ease of access, the force needed to be used, and how likely they are to be mistaken for some other hardware.

Once again, Audi achieved a grade that only a handful of cars can brag with. They obtained a “good plus” review as they had extra latches available that meet all the necessary requirements and beyond.

Unfortunately, Touareg continued its trend of tests-not-performed as there was no score for this part of the evaluation whatsoever. Therefore, this was another easy win for Audi.

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

To qualify for either of these awards, the vehicle would have to substantially outperform most of the market.

Requirements include a “good” score in all categories of crashworthiness mixed with an advanced/superior grade for crash avoidance to get the Top Safety Pick, while the Top Safety Pick Plus further demands the vehicle has acceptable or good headlight performance.

Since the Volkswagen model did not have scores for some categories it did not qualify for either of the awards.

Audi, however, won the Top Safety Pick and came one grade short of the Plus award as its headlights were rated only “moderate.”

It seems that even uninformed people glancing over the results of Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg will be fully capable of making a judgment call on which car won.

Audi outperformed in every single category that was listed, including a “good” rating for the small overlap front test, “superior” crash prevention abilities, and a “good plus” LATCH review. Thus, Audi takes the win almost effortlessly.

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