New & Used Volkswagen Tiguan: In Depth
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The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover that slots into VW's U.S. lineup below the larger Touareg SUV. The Tiguan blends Golf-based mechanicals with a tall-wagon body and available all-wheel drive, for an all-purpose package that delivers moderate off-road capability with all-weather traction.
The Tiguan is a rival for vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, and Toyota RAV4, among a handful of others in a very crowded segment. Audi has recently added its own vehicle on this platform, the compact Q3 crossover.
MORE: Read our 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan review for pricing, specs, and more photos
The Tiguan was a completely new model for the 2009 model year and has been only moderately changed in the years since.
Though its smoothed-over yet upright sheetmetal takes after Volkswagen's Touareg SUV, it couldn't be more different in real-world performance. With suspension and steering tuned for the road rather than the rocky trail, and much lower weight, the Tiguan feels a bit like a soft-riding small car on stilts. Overall length is about the same as a subcompact sedan's, making the Tiguan the right size for the city and allowing it to fit easily in compact-only spots. The 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides enough pep to scoot energetically into gaps in traffic yet cruise in a relaxed manner on the highway. In front-wheel-drive versions you have a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, but with the available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system they're all automatics. Fuel economy ratings are as good as 19 mpg city, 26 highway.
Inside, the Tiguan takes a people-first approach to packaging, making it a comfortable around-town car that fits right into urban environments while also providing highway comfort. The design is relatively staid, but both rows of seats are very comfortable, with enough room in the rear for kids three wide or a pair of adults. The front seats especially are supportive, offering good visibility form the driver's seat, while the materials feel solid and expensive with a well-built feeling running throughout. There's good cargo space in the rear, with folding rear seats that allow for hauling of larger items when no one's in the back. Several additional stash spots include twin gloveboxes and a storage compartment that's hidden under the cargo load floor.
The Tiguan doesn't want for much when it comes to features. The standard-equipment list is lengthy, and items that are usually reserved for larger crossovers can be found in the smaller VW, such as a panoramic sunroof and a hard-drive-based music system. Safety has also been a top priority, with the Tiguan receiving good marks from the NHTSA. In the past, it received the Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, although after scoring a grade of 'Marginal' in the group's new small overlap front crash test it no longer receives the nod.
For 2010, Volkswagen offered a value-oriented Wolfsburg edition of the Tiguan. In the 2012 model year, the crossover's styling was updated with a slimmer front end and new taillamps, and improved drivetrain efficiency helped boost gas mileage as high as 22/27 mpg. Then on the 2013 VW Tiguan, there were a few other minor feature changes; most notably, the premium Dynaudio sound system and high-end navigation system were removed from the options list.
A Tiguan R-Line version was introduced for 2014, offering a long list of appearance upgrades, including unique trim and a flat-bottom steering wheel, plus a 'sport tuned' suspension, bi-xenon headlights, and LED daytime running lights. For 2015, all Tiguan models were given roof-rack rails as standard equipment.
VW has been slow to capitalize on the crossover craze to the fullest and will use the coming years to try and make up for it. A new Tiguan is on the way and will be joined in the VW crossover lineup by a larger three-row utility aimed at the U.S. market. The Tiguan itself will grow to sprout a third row, either as optional or standard equipment, with a new Golf-based crossover likely taking the entry-level place in VW's utility lineup. The new three-row Tiguan has been confirmed for production at VW's plant in Puebla, Mexico, and is scheduled to be launched in 2017.