RAV4 gallery above

VW Tiguan gallery above

VW Tiguan Highline VS Toyota RAV4 EDGE

For years, these automotive titans have slugged it out on the world stage, one biff after another.

VW includes Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Scania and MAN, as well as motor cycle brand, Ducati. Toyota owns Daihatsu and LEXUS.

Both brands are mammoths, and make lots of money, but do they make good SUVs?

We pit the slightly raunchy RAV4 against the much tamer Tiguan.  We compare foibles and fads, goods and bads, and which is best to drive.

This is my personal take on these two SUV best sellers.

Compare the looks: Exterior

Toyota has opted for a polarising angular look. There ares line all mover the place.

The aggressive front, has an imposing grille flanked by big LED headlights. From the side, RAV4 has more cuts and carves than a Sunday roast. It busy. It has places to be, and it knows it. It leaves the eye no place to rest.

There is motion, but no fluidity. Toyota says it doesn’t want to make boring cars any more, and RAV 4 is certainly not boring. Instead, it is complex, taking the viewer through a range of emotions as they travel along the road to the carpark of controversy.

It is chunky, and daring.

I have a love/hate relationship with the look.

VW is simple, refined and classy. Some say the look is conservative, and that it is pared back to the point of boredom. I think that is way too harsh. Coco Chanel once said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” VW says “Yes, we did that”.

Tiguan might appeal to a slightly older demographic. That maturity brings with it a desire for that Coco Chanel “less is more” approach to life. Adornments have been kept to a minimum, and lines flow easily from one element to the next. There is a mere suspicion of tasteful jewellery dotted about, just because.

The base model however, looks a little too pared back.

Verdict: VW appeals to more matured tastes while Toyota will more likely be seen on the driveways of a younger owner.

Which interior is nicer?

Toyota’s modern, modular RAV4 cabin has a fun :action man” look to it, especially in the EDGE. The top of the range has neat orange highlights to appeal to an action man. I’ve seen those same highlights on bear Grylles’ clothing line. Coincidence? I think not (you’re all going to google it now aren’t you).

Hard wearing fabrics and finishes give the interior that masculine, active weekend, look.

The centre stack is topped by a floating tablet flanked by fun rubber-coated knobs, like a Grylls jacket.

Buttons, dials, and levers all perfectly placed, with a Swiss army knife feeling about it. The dash is a feast of cubby holes, lines, stitching, and controls, each faceted for interest.

The look is outdoorsy, young, and hip.

It is a wet suit, a carabiner, and a ration pack.

VW gave Tiguan an altogether different look.

Although the layout is similar to RAV4, Tiguan takes the pared back look from the outside, to the inside. It is a suit and tie, a canape, and a martini.

The tablet is set into the dash as opposed to floating above. Buttons, levers, and knobs are almost identical to RAV4, but the feeling is more tailored. The screen and climate controls sit almost flat against the centre stack, as if tucked neatly in to place.

The biggest difference is the option of a purely digital driver interface. The full with LCD provides a range of viewing preferences. Dials, maps, and gauges can be as simple, or as complex as whims dictate.

Both cabins are fabulous quality, with hard plastics managing to stay classy. Other surfaces have a delicious soft touch covering. My preference is definitely for the fancy-schmancy LCD Tiguan driver’s panel thingie.

RAV4 feels busy and frantic, and Tiguan is restrained and quiet. RAV4 is wet suit, and Tiguan, dinner suit.

Features/Technology compared

Features and driving aids vary little between brands. Toyota has thrown everything at RAV4 because it is a recent release. Tiguan is a little older, but was updated in August, 2018. Wolfsburg limited edition was the range topper with everything included to a touch over 60k. With that model gone, adding the packs will add many shekels to a Highline.

EDGE tops out at $51,687 on the road. All RAV4 models come with Toyota Safety Sense, their nifty suit of safety accoutrements.

Both cars have active steering and active cruise control, as well as AEB. Tiguan has auto parking too.

Tiguan has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, with Toyota adding it as new models are rolled out. It can be added to existing Toyota models that have compatible audio systems at no charge.

RAV4 has DAB, but VW does not.

It is all a bit of a mixed bag.

Engine and Drivetrain stacked up

RAV4 comes with a 6speed manual, and a CVT in most models, but EDGE only gets the superb 8 Speed automatic, and it is an absolutely pearler. It shifts with the smoothness of a Bublé ballad. A 2.5L, 152kw/243Nm petrol engine, powers all 4 wheels with Toyota’s excellent AWD system.

Hybrid drive is available in other trim levels, but EDGE is left with only the single petrol option.

Tiguan also has a petrol engine, but this one has a turbo with 10 extra kw, and a stunning 107 extra Nm of torque. The 2.0L 162kw/350Nm engine is paired a to a 7 DSG automatic, and 4Motion AWD.

Both Cars  feel nippy, but Tiguan has extra low down grunt once the turbo spools up. RAV4 rides more smoothly but Tiguan feels sharper, especially in the steering department. Handling is similar, with RAV4 feeling more “luxurious”, and Tiguan feeling “sportier”.

Bumps and jolts were soaked up equally well, and cabin sound levels bordered on limo-like. This one is going to depend on what kind of handling a buyer prefers.

How do they compare on Safety

There is hardly a tissue between them.

RAV4 has 5 stars (2019) and Tiguan 5 stars (2016).

Although top models compare favourably, only the Highline gets radar cruise control, lane change lane and traffic jam assist as standard. RAV4 has this on all models. All cars have emergency braking, active lane control, driver fatigue. RAV4 adds cyclist recognition to the emergency braking function (AEB), but all cars have multi speed emergency braking with pedestrian recognition.

Both cars have auto lights and wipers, and high beam assist.

Which car is my pick?

There is a bee’s dick between them.

It comes down to trawling through the minutia. Both have little foibles and quirks, and the equipment levels are so close as not to register a sideways glance.

If I was buying on price alone, RAV4 would be a clear winner.

But, assuming I have the extra shekels for a Tiguan, I’d take the highline with all the extras.

It is a tough choice. I prefer the automatic in RAV4, but the engine in Tiguan. I like the look and feel of Tiguan over RAV4, bur RAV4 has a ANCAP date stamp of 2019 VS Tiguan’s 2016 stamp.

I prefer Tiguan’s infotainment system, and the excellent LCD driver’s screen. RAV4’s ride is more comfortable, but Tiguan’s handling is sharper.

I like RAV4’s slightly sporty interior, but Tiguan feels classier.

In the end, I prefer Tiguan’s neat crisp exterior, Teutonic yet comfortable cabin, and superbly smooth engine. Although I’m not a huge fan of DCT transmissions, I could certainly live with it. Tiguan costs a smidge more than RAV4, and after you add the packs, it will mean beans on toast for the next 5 years.

I just couldn’t live without that digital dash.

FEATURE Toyota RAV4 EDGE VW Tiguan Highline
Engine 2.5 2.0 turbo
Transmission 8 speed auto 7 speed DCT auto
Power 152 162
Torque 243 350
Consumption 7.3 EURO V 8.1
Fuel Type 91ron 95ron
CO2 166 186
Tank size 55L 60L
Drive Wheels AWD AWD 4Motion
ANCAP 5 star 2019 5 star 2016
Lane keeping – active y y
Cruise Control – active y y
AEB inc pedestrian detection Y (+cyclist detection) y
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Y Soon (free upgrade)
Audio JBL Dynaudio
Heated seats y y
Head Up Display N N
Reversing cam and sensors Y (360° ) Y area view part of package
Ambient lighting N Y
Boot 542L/580L (double floor) 615
Wheelbase 2690mm 2681
Length 4615mm 4486
Height 1690mm 1658
Width 1865mm 1839
Weight 1645kg-1705kg 1637kg
Ground Clearance 195mm 201mm
Wheels 19” 19”
Price $47,140 MLP $49,490


Option Packages Tiguan

Sound and Vision Package (Highline) $3000

Active info display
Dynaudio ® Excite premium sound system
Area View

R-Line Package (Highline)   $2900

R-Line bumpers and side sills
Black rear spoiler
20-inch ‘Suzuka’ alloy wheels
R-Line black Vienna leather seats
Brushed stainless steel pedals
R-Line steering wheel with paddles
Black headliner
R-Line aluminum scuff plates

Panoramic electric glass sunroof (Highline and Wolfsburg) $2000

Options RAV4

Sunroof panoramic                                                                                                       $1,365