Volkswagen’s compact SUV earned a Top Safety Pick rating for the 2018 model year from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and for 2019 the Tiguan adds the “Plus” designation — IIHS’ top honor. As with many other recent safety award winners, however, there’s a catch: The Tiguan’s Top Safety Pick Plus status only applies to models equipped with specific headlights and the optional front crash prevention system.
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The Tiguan earned top scores in all of the agency’s evaluations of crashworthiness: driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.
In front crash prevention, the Tiguan’s optional system — Front Assist — earned the top superior rating. IIHS said that it avoided a collision in the 12-mph test and reduced its impact speed by 24 mph in the 25-mph test.
Headlights and the vehicle’s build date are two more caveats. Only models built after June and equipped with optional curve-adaptive LED headlights with high-beam assist earn a good headlight rating. IIHS reports that models built before then with the same headlights earn a marginal rating and, therefore, don’t meet the requirements for Top Safety Pick Plus status. The model’s base halogen reflector headlights also disqualify it; they received a poor rating.
Competition is hot in the popular compact SUV class, and the Tiguan is in good company when it comes to keeping up with competitors’ safety ratings. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is also a Top Safety Pick Plus, and the 2020 Nissan Rogue and 2019 Honda CR-V came close, both earning Top Safety Pick status. The 2019 Ford Escape, however, failed to earn any of IIHS safety awards due to a poor score in the passenger-side small overlap crash test, an acceptable score in the driver-side small overlap test and a basic rating in front crash prevention.