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Volkswagen survey reveals strength of American love affair with SUVs

Dec 10, 2019

  • Survey of 1,000 SUV owners finds nearly nine in ten expect to always own an SUV in the future
  • Comfort, safety and passenger space lead list of purchase considerations

Herndon, VA — As sport utility vehicles have grown in popularity to account for nearly half of new U.S. vehicle sales, Volkswagen of America has moved to answer that demand with vehicles like the Atlas, Tiguan and new Atlas Cross Sport. Today, Volkswagen released results of a survey of 1,000 SUV owners that illustrates their motivations for their choices—and shows that the shift toward SUVs will continue for the foreseeable future.

The survey polled drivers in the United States who currently own or lease an SUV and identify it as their primary household vehicle. Overall, the survey indicated that safety and comfort are the two features that matter most when it comes to purchasing SUVs. Results also showed that families are spending a lot of time together in SUVs and that third rows are being used a lot more than previously thought.

“This survey confirms that our current portfolio of SUVs aligns with what consumers are prioritizing here in the U.S.,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy for Volkswagen of America, Inc. “All of our SUVs rank high on independent measures of comfort, standard safety features and passenger space within their classes, and we’re focused on those priorities as we develop new entries like our upcoming subcompact SUV.”

The survey highlighted three key trends among SUV owners:

Safety and comfort rank high in importance but vary by gender.

  • Nearly nine in ten owners ranked SUVs as the best vehicles for your money (96 percent) and indicated that they do not plan on owning any vehicle other than an SUV in the future (87 percent). Drivers also agreed that they feel more confident on the road when driving an SUV (94 percent).
  • Safety and comfort are the highest priority features when it comes to SUVs, with 68 percent of drivers rating them as most important. For men, comfortable seating is more important than overall safety, while women are more likely to place importance on safety and passenger space.

The SUV is the new American living room.

  • More than eight in ten parents say they have family discussions in their SUV, creating a new space for family time, whether on the way to school or on a family road trip.
  • Parents, more than non-parents, agree that they expect to continue to own an SUV from now on (90 percent) and use their SUV as a place for family discussions.
  • SUV owners with a third row are more likely to say family discussions take place in their SUV (75 percent, vs. 60 percent of owners without a third row) and younger SUV owners (18-34 and 35-54) and parents are more likely to use their third row on a daily basis.

Gen Z and Millennials want to be safe, first and foremost.

  • Generationally, Gen Z and Millennials rank the overall safety of the vehicle as most important when it comes to their SUVs, followed by handling on rough roads, whereas drivers ages 55+ ranked comfortable seating as most important.

Overall safety and availability of driver-assistance features have been a priority throughout the Volkswagen SUV lineup. In November, the 2019 Tiguan earned a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for vehicles built after June 2019 when equipped with LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) and High Beam Control (Light Assist) as well as available Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist). The 2019 TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating is issued to vehicles that have earned good ratings in IIHS tests evaluated in six categories: driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It must also offer an autonomous emergency braking system (AEB) that earns at least an advanced rating for front crash prevention and headlights that earn at a good rating for visibility and lack of excessive glare.

Volkswagen has approached passenger comfort from several directions, whether it’s ensuring ample passenger space and sliding second-row seats in the Tiguan and Atlas to a controlled, but responsive driving feel. Standard touches like App-Connect in-dash entertainment integration with three major smartphone platforms for compatible devices —Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®—and optional features like a two-pane panoramic sunroof that extends over the second row also add to the comfort of Volkswagen SUV owners.

“As we look to the future of Volkswagen, and the direction we are mapping out for our lineup, we understand that appetites for certain capabilities of SUVs evolve. This includes EV options in the SUV market,” said Schafer. “Taking into account the features that we know consumers are looking for in upcoming models, we’re eager to bring a price- conscious, thoughtfully-designed, and range-competitive electric SUV to the U.S. market in the near future.”

Survey Methodology: 5-minute online survey among n=1,000 SUV owners in the U.S. (n=500 men, n=500 women), defined as those who own or lease an SUV and identify an SUV as their primary vehicle. Field dates: September 19-24, 2019. Margin of error: ±3.1%


About Volkswagen

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America and a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, with headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. Volkswagen’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Arteon, Atlas, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, e-Golf, Golf, Golf Alltrack, Golf GTI, Golf R, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan vehicles through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen online at or to learn more.

“VW,” “Volkswagen,” all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG. “CarPlay” is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. “MirrorLink” is a registered trademark of the Car Connectivity Consortium LLC. “Android Auto” is a trademark of Google LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Driver Assistance features are not substitutes for attentive driving. See Owner’s Manual for further details, and important limitations.

Always pay careful attention to the road, and do not drive while distracted. Not all features available on all operating systems. Standard text and data usage rates apply. App-Connect features require compatible device, operating system, and mobile apps. See mobile device and app providers for terms and privacy.