2019 Kia Niro vs. 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Tiguan Limited doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

To prevent power induced skids and loss of control on slick surfaces, the Kia Niro has standard full range traction control. The Tiguan Limited’s traction control is for low speeds only. Low traction conditions at higher speeds are more dangerous, making the need for full range traction control important.

The Niro (except FE/S Touring)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Niro and the Tiguan Limited have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The Niro comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years 60,000 miles. Kia will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Tiguan Limited.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 4 years and 28000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Tiguan Limited. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Tiguan Limited ends after only 6 years or 72000 miles.

There are over 18 percent more Kia dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Niro’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Niro’s reliability 36 points higher than the Tiguan Limited.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 31 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the Tiguan Limited:

 

 

Niro

Tiguan Limited

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

20 city/26 hwy

2.0T/Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

n/a

 

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

19 city/24 hwy

2.0T/Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Niro’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Niro uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Tiguan Limited requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The Niro stops shorter than the Tiguan Limited:

 

Niro

Tiguan Limited

 

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

152 feet

156 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Niro FE/LX/EX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Tiguan Limited S’ standard 65 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Niro has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Tiguan Limited’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 3.8 inches longer than on the Tiguan Limited (106.3 inches vs. 102.5 inches).

The Niro Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Tiguan Limited Sport pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Niro Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Tiguan Limited SEL 4Motion® (27.3 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Niro’s turning circle is 4.2 feet tighter than the Tiguan Limited’s (34.8 feet vs. 39 feet).

Chassis

The Kia Niro may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 pounds less than the Volkswagen Tiguan Limited.

The Niro is 3 inches shorter than the Tiguan Limited, making the Niro easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Kia Niro amounts to more than styling. The Niro has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Tiguan Limited (.37) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Niro get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 5.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Tiguan Limited (100.9 vs. 95.4).

The Niro has 1 inch more front headroom, 1.6 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more rear headroom, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Tiguan Limited.

The front step up height for the Niro is 2.9 inches lower than the Tiguan Limited (15.5” vs. 18.4”). The Niro’s rear step up height is 2.3 inches lower than the Tiguan Limited’s (16.2” vs. 18.5”).

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Niro easier. The Niro’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 29 inches, while the Tiguan Limited’s liftover is 31 inches.

The Niro’s cargo area is larger than the Tiguan Limited’s in almost every dimension:

 

Niro

Tiguan Limited

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

32.2”/63.6”

Max Width

48.2”

41.6”

Min Width

41”

39.7”

Height

36”

33.4”

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Niro to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Volkswagen doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Tiguan Limited.

Ergonomics

The Niro Touring’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Niro and the Tiguan Limited have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Niro is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Tiguan Limited prevents the driver from operating the rear windows just as it does the other passengers.

Smart Key standard on the Niro LX/EX/S Touring/Touring allows you to unlock the driver’s door, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Volkswagen Tiguan Limited’s Keyless Access doesn’t unlock the cargo door.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Niro has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Tiguan Limited only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Niro has standard extendable sun visors. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Niro with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Tiguan Limited’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Niro’s optional (except FE/LX/S Touring) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Niro has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Tiguan Limited Sport/SEL.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Niro (except FE/S Touring) offers an optional Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Niro’s standard steering wheel mounted cruise control is close at hand. The Tiguan Limited’s standard cruise control is on an over-crowded turn signal stalk.

The Niro S Touring/Touring’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Tiguan Limited’s navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

With standard voice command, the Niro offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a voice control system.

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Tiguan Limited doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Niro and the Volkswagen Tiguan Limited, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Tiguan Limited isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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