Consumers now have multiple hybrid SUVs earning Top Safety Pick to choose from. Others include the midsize Saturn Vue and Toyota Highlander, which the Institute evaluated earlier.
"In the latest tests, the Tiguan's performance is a standout," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "It sailed through the front and side crash tests without a single downgrade for structure or measures of injury likelihood recorded on the dummy. This is 1 of 4 models in this group that afford superior crash protection in their class. This is a huge change from just 5 years ago when most small SUVs were rated either marginal or poor in our side test, and standard side airbags and electronic stability control were rare."
Electronic stability control is important because it can help drivers avoid many crashes. It helps drivers maintain control in the worst situation — loss of control at high speed — by engaging automatically when it senses vehicle instability and helping to bring a vehicle back into the intended line of travel, often without the driver knowing anything is wrong. This feature lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half. It lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle rollover crash by as much as 70 percent.
Designs change to address crashworthiness in side impacts: The Institute's frontal offset crash test, which began in 1995, drove major design changes in vehicles to do a better job of protecting people in the most common kind of serious crash. In the mid-1990s, few vehicles earned the top rating of good in the frontal test. Now nearly every vehicle is rated good for frontal protection. Since the Institute began its side tests in 2003, manufacturers have been following the same path, changing their vehicles to improve protection in serious side impacts.