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

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Things to remember...
  • The 2017 Ford Escape is a safer small SUV than the Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Both the Escape and the Tiguan were unable to satisfy requirements for the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards
  • Using the IIHS safety ratings can be an additional help for drivers to make their choice while shopping for a vehicle


While small size SUVs are not as safe as full-size models, they are becoming increasingly safer. During the 2017 crash tests, a total of 17 small SUVs received a G rating from the IIHS for every crashworthiness category except for the small front passenger impact test.

Buyers who are buying a small size SUV should consider how safe it is but should also look at other things like better fuel mileage and more cargo space.

For years, the Ford Escape dominated the small size SUV class. The Volkswagen Tiguan is an expression of luxury and engineering by the manufacturer. It is one of the largest small size SUVs available.

Safety Ratings Buyers Should Know About

Since having a safe vehicle is important to many people, most are familiar with the safety ratings from the IIHS. The Institute provides the ratings on each vehicle in different classes and they also reward vehicles based on their safety features.

Vehicles are generally rated and then awarded the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ if they are safe. The IIHS provides tests that were made to mimic situations that could happen in real life.

Since they have the technology and experience to do so, most people consider the IIHS to be the industry standard on safety ratings. They are able to provide the most accurate information on the safety of different vehicles because they have so much experience doing it.

– Crash Capabilities

If a vehicle is involved in a crash, the IIHS wants to know how it will perform. The IIHS looks at the way the front, sides and roof perform during each test. They also test the seatbelts and headrests to see how crash test dolls fare after they have been through a crash in each vehicle.

The Ford Escape received a rating of A for the driver side front small overlap and no score for the passenger side.

The Volkswagen Tiguan received a rating for the driver side small front overlap and no rating for the passenger side. Both of the vehicles received a G, the highest score, for each of the other categories including the moderate overlap in the front and the sides.

– Avoiding a Crash

To determine whether a vehicle is able to safely avoid a crash, the IIHS tests the crash avoidance systems. The Institute also tests the headlights when they test the mitigation. Vehicles that do not have warning systems or auto brakes will not receive a score in the crash avoidance category.

The Ford Escape received a rating of basic on the crash avoidance category. It did not have any auto brakes that the IIHS was able to test, but it did have an NHSTA-compliant warning system for a forward collision.

The Volkswagen Tiguan did not receive any rating because the IIHS could not test the auto brakes or the warning system.

During the headlight test, optional equipment was used on the Escape and a specific trim was used on the Tiguan. Both of the vehicles scored an A on the headlights. The vehicles had headlights that did not reach far enough but were acceptable with the high beams on.

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– Child LATCH System

Because the NHSTA plays a big role in the way the LATCH systems are made, there is no way for the IIHS to test the systems. They are the same across all makes and models of cars, but the IIHS has found a way to determine whether users will find them easy to use or not.

They test the efficacy of the systems by performing tests to determine how easy they will be able to use making them more likely to be used correctly.

In one position, the LATCH system in the Ford Escape was too difficult to maneuver and had other hardware that the user could have mistaken for the LATCH system.

The other position had a LATCH that was too deep in the seat, making the vehicle receive an M rating for marginal. The Volkswagen Tiguan received an A rating because the LATCH was simply too deep in the seat for users to easily reach.

Volkswagen or Ford: who had the safer vehicle?

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The Ford Escape was a safer vehicle than the Volkswagen Tiguan. It did not receive a Top Safety Pick award, but the fact it had more data than the Tiguan did made the IIHS give it the higher rating.

Drivers who may be looking for a safer option with a Top Safety Pick award may be interested in the Honda CR-V because it is a Top Safety Pick+.

Can you save money without an award winner?

While having a Top Safety Pick award winner can help drivers save money on their auto insurance, there are other ways they can do it, too.

Drivers who want to purchase a vehicle that does not have an IIHS award are able to save money on auto insurance by shopping around and even simply asking an insurance company for discounts.

Drivers who have a good credit score, who drive less and who choose optional safety equipment on their vehicle can get big discounts on their policy.

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