3 Volkswagen Models Struggle in Consumer Reports Rear-Seat Safety Testing

Rear-seat safety is often overlooked, with car safety ratings largely focused on front-seat riders. To help fill this gap, Consumer Reports recently began testing rear-seat safety. Though some vehicles demonstrated superb protection, three Volkswagen models struggled. One nearly had the worst score of all the cars CR has tested.

How Consumer Reports tests rear-seat safety

“The rear seat has to take into account all kinds of passengers who sit there, from infants and teens to adults and ride-sharing passengers of all ages,” says Emily A. Thomas, PhD, manager of auto safety at CR.

— Consumer Reports (@ConsumerReports) October 19, 2022

Consumer Reports states that rear-seat safety is scored based on the unique safety needs of passengers in the rear seats.

Children make up a sizable percentage of rear passengers, so the Consumer Reports safety test measures how well the vehicle handles children’s safety needs. Testers evaluated the ease of properly installing child car seats and booster seats. They also tested whether the vehicle alerted drivers to passengers remaining in the rear seats. This feature could prevent a tragedy after accidentally leaving a child in a car.

Reviewers also analyzed the vehicles’ restraints because they often lack some of the front seats’ advanced features. These features in seat belts give vehicle occupants added protection in the event of a crash. Last, CR’s testers looked at rear head restraints to determine if they were at an optimum height to help protect rear passengers from whiplash during a collision.

3 Volkswagen models got disappointing rear-seat safety scores

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2022 Volkswagen ID.4 | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

Consumer Reports has conducted rear-seat safety tests on more than 50 vehicles, including three 2022 Volkswagen models. The highest-rated VW is the ID.4 all-electric compact crossover, which did not test well but ended up in the middle of the pack overall. The ID.4 performed OK on CR’s tests for child car seats, booster seats, and head restraints. However, the EV didn’t give seat belt reminders to rear passengers, negatively affecting its rating.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI scored significantly worse than the ID.4, and Consumer Reports noted the car did not have rear seat belt reminders or rear occupant alerts.

But the lowest-rated VW model was the Taos subcompact crossover, which CR ranks as the second-worst vehicle for rear-seat safety. In addition to the issues that affected the other two Volkswagen models, the Taos also lacks advanced restraint features.

Though these three Volkswagen models failed to impress Consumer Reports testers, none of the vehicles CR evaluated received a perfect score. Every model had at least one area in which it struggled — indicating automakers should consider improving rear-seat protection.

In addition, CR emphasizes that models that perform poorly on these tests aren’t dangerous. “The message from our new rear-seat safety testing is not that vehicles with lower scores are unsafe, but that they do not offer the same comparative margin of protection as those vehicles that earn higher marks,” says Emily A. Thomas, an automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports (via Twitter).

A closer look at the Volkswagen Golf GTI, ID.4, and Taos

Rear-seat safety is critical, but it’s only one factor to consider when purchasing a vehicle. Each of the three Volkswagen models has benefits.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a fun and agile compact hatchback, especially with the optional six-speed manual transmission. Volkswagen states the Golf GTI starts at $30,180 and features a turbocharged engine producing 241 hp.

For buyers interested in an EV, the Volkswagen ID.4 is an electric crossover SUV that maintains many iconic stylistic elements in other VWs. The base-model ID.4 starts at $37,495. That’s relatively affordable for a new EV, but Volkswagen doesn’t list the standard model’s estimated range.

Beyond its lackluster rear-seat safety scores, the Volkswagen Taos is an attractive subcompact SUV. According to VW, the Taos gets an impressive 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. It also stands out for its low starting MSRP of only $24,155.

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