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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus RX Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen Tiguan doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
The RX Series 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 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
To prevent power induced skids and loss of control on slick surfaces, the Lexus RX Series has standard full range traction control. The Tiguan’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.
Both the RX Series and the Tiguan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RX Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Tiguan was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.
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 RX Series’ reliability 38 points higher than the Tiguan.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Tiguan isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 16th.
The RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 111 more horsepower (295 vs. 184) and 47 lbs.-ft. more torque (268 vs. 221) than the Tiguan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The RX 450h’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 124 more horsepower (308 vs. 184) than the Tiguan’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
As tested in Motor Trend the RX 350 3.5 DOHC V6 is faster than the Volkswagen Tiguan:
Zero to 30 MPH
Zero to 60 MPH
Zero to 80 MPH
Passing 45 to 65 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the RX 450h gets better fuel mileage than the Tiguan 4Motion® (31 city/28 hwy vs. 21 city/29 hwy).
Regenerative brakes improve the RX Series Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Tiguan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
The RX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 1.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Tiguan FWD’s standard fuel tank (17.2 vs. 15.3 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The RX Series’ standard fuel tank has 3.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Tiguan AWD’s standard fuel tank (19.2 vs. 15.9 gallons).
The RX 450h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Tiguan doesn’t offer a CVT.
The RX Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Tiguan are solid, not vented.
The RX Series stops much shorter than the Tiguan:
60 to 0 MPH
For better traction, the RX Series has larger tires than the Tiguan (235/65R18 vs. 215/65R17).
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RX Series has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Tiguan S/SE.
The RX Series offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Tiguan’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RX Series is 2.2 inches wider in the front and 2.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Tiguan.
The RX 350 handles at .79 G’s, while the Tiguan SEL 4Motion® pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The RX 350 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the Tiguan SEL 4Motion® (27.1 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .58 average G’s).
For greater off-road capability the RX Series has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Tiguan (8.2 vs. 7.9 inches), allowing the RX Series to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The design of the Lexus RX Series amounts to more than styling. The RX Series has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .33 Cd. That is lower than the Tiguan (.35) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the RX Series get better fuel mileage.
The RX Series has 3.9 inches more front legroom, .8 inches more front shoulder room, 1.5 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Tiguan.
The RX Series has a much larger cargo volume than the Tiguan with its rear seat up (18.4 vs. 12 cubic feet).
A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the RX Series. The Tiguan doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
Maximum trailer towing in the Volkswagen Tiguan is limited to 1500 pounds. The RX Series offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 50% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.
The RX Series’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Tiguan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The RX Series offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Tiguan doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
If the windows are left open on the RX Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Tiguan can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
The RX Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Tiguan’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the RX Series has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Tiguan only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The RX Series’ available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Tiguan’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RX Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Tiguan doesn’t offer headlight washers.
The RX Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Tiguan offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
Both the RX Series and the Tiguan offer available heated front seats. The RX Series also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated second row seats aren’t available in the Tiguan.
Optional air-conditioned seats in the RX Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Tiguan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
The RX Series 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 SE/SEL/SEL Premium.
The RX Series 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 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.
Insurance will cost less for the RX Series owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the RX Series with a number “5” insurance rate while the Tiguan is rated higher at a number “10” rate.
The RX Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the RX Series will retain 46.6% to 51.56% of its original price after five years, while the Tiguan only retains 28.65% to 38.41%.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RX Series is less expensive to operate than the Tiguan because it costs $155 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RX Series than the Tiguan, including $49 less for a muffler, $104 less for fuel injection, $82 less for a fuel pump and $287 less for front struts.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Lexus RX Series, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Volkswagen Tiguan isn't recommended.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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