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 beneath the larger Touareg SUV. As a crossover, the Tiguan blends Golf-based mechanicals with a tall-wagon body and 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 the Toyota RAV4.
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 model 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 more lightweight construction and suspension and steering tuned for the road rather than the rocky trail, the Tiguan feels a bit like a soft-riding small car on stilts. With an overall length that's about the same as a subcompact sedan, it's sized right for city and fits easily in compact-only spots. And 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.
The rest of the Tiguan package remains quite perfect for small families or commuters who want a little extra space and utility. Front seats are more supportive than you'll find in most other compact crossover utes, the driving position affords good visibility, and the interior trim and instrument panel feel more premium than the Tiguan's affordable price tag indicates. Back-seat passengers will find enough head and leg room, though there's not enough width for three adults to get comfortable. Cargo space isn't plentiful, but the seats fold forward, like those in other utes, to fit larger pieces, and there are lots of places for smaller items, like a twin glovebox and underfloor cargo compartment.
Not much else is missing from this well appointed package. Standard equipment has been strong, and options include some items ordinarily found on larger, more expensive vehicles like a panorama sunroof, hard-drive music system, and nav system. Top safety equipment and ratings are all there, too; the Tiguan has received good safety ratings from the federal government and has been an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
A Wolfsburg Edition was added to the line in 2010, but otherwise the Volkswagen Tiguan changed very little in the years since. In the 2012 model year, Volkswagen updated its styling with a slimmer front end and new taillamps, and improved the efficiency of the drivetrain to 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 no longer available. A new Tiguan R-Line version was introduced for 2014, and it offers a long list of appearance upgrades, including trims 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.