New & Used Volkswagen Tiguan: In Depth
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The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV that was introduced for the 2009 model year.
Updated only moderately since its introduction, the Tiguan is due to be replaced by a brand-new model in the 2017 model year.
The Tiguan puts a tall-wagon body on Golf-based mechanicals for a compact crossover slotted below the larger Touareg in VW's U.S. lineup. It can be had with all-wheel drive, which makes it an all-purpose 'ute delivering moderate off-road ability and all-weather traction.
The Tiguan competes in a segment getting ever more crowded with offerings such as the Toyota RAV4, Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Tucson, and more. Even sister company Audi has leaped into the fray with the compact Q3 crossover built on the same platform as the Tiguan.
MORE: Read our 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan review
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.
Though its smoothed-over yet upright sheet metal 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, turbocharged 2.0-liter 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 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, but with the available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system they're all automatics. Fuel economy ratings are as good as 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 overall.
The standard-equipment list is lengthy, and getting lengthier as VW tries to add value as the vehicle ages. Safety is falling behind the competition, as the Tiguan receives mediocre marks from the NHTSA and can't qualify for IIHS Top Safety Pick honors due to a grade of "Marginal" in the group's new small overlap front crash test. The Tiguan also lacks many of the active safety features that have filtered down to the compact crossover class.
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 taillights, and improved drivetrain efficiency helped boost gas mileage as high as 22 mpg city, 27 highway. The 2013 VW Tiguan had 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.
Near the end of its product cycle, the 2016 Tiguan adds equipment to most models, and the model lineup is shuffled to make the sportier R-Line model more attainable. The model lineup consists of S, R-Line, SE, and SEL models, all with front- or all-wheel drive. All models also add Volkswagen's new MIB II infotainment system this year and finally get a USB port.
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.