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The stylish Volkswagen Tiguan is based on the Golf platform, so it's compact and beneath it all more car than ute. It measures 173.2 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width, and 66.5 inches in height, with one of the taller, more upright stances of vehicles in this compact segment. Design-wise, it gives the impression, as vehicles in this class often do, of a vehicle that was designed from the inside out; the smooth but conservative look appears as more blandly contemporary than sporty or adventurous. But there's nice detailing to keep it in line with Volkswagen's cars, as well as the Touareg SUV.
The 2011 Tiguan drives more like an especially tall car than a utility vehicle, and it does, at least at first impression, feel significantly more nimble and responsive feel than rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The basics are promising; the Tiguan packs a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, with front- or all-wheel-drive configurations, and transmission options include either a six-speed manual or an automatic. But the goods aren't here to satisfy enthusiasts; the Tiguan is tuned for all-around ability rather than ultimate precision, and this reflects in the ride, steering, and brakes.
The Tiguan has the straightforward, versatile, and comfortable interior that compact crossover shoppers look for. Sporty and supportive seats give good comfort and an excellent driving position in front, and the flexible interior package includes second-row split bench seats designed to slide and tilt. Even larger adults will be very comfortable in the front seats, thanks to generous headroom, shoulder room, and legroom, and the back seats are ample for adults. The cargo compartment has a small hidden storage bin underneath the load floor, and with the 60/40-split back seats folded there's 56 cubic feet of expanded cargo space. A twin glove box up front adds convenience, and there are numerous other cubbies.
Overall, the Tiguan has a very refined, high-quality feel inside. Fit and finish and build quality in the Tiguan are top-notch, and while there's a little wind noise on the highway, the Tiguan's cabin is well isolated from road and engine noise.
With the Tiguan, Volkswagen keeps to its commitment to safety features and top-notch occupant protection. Standard features include front side airbags, side-curtain bags, and stability control, while rear side thorax airbags—not often available in this class—are an option. On all-wheel-drive versions, hill descent control is also included, to help control speed on steep slopes. Safety results have been excellent.
For 2011, the Tiguan gets a new lineup of alloy wheel designs, as well as new steering-wheel designs—including multi-function buttons for audio. Base S models get a new single-CD sound system, and an iPod adapter and voice-activated Bluetooth are now also standard on all models. The SEL model includes leather seats and push-button start, and roof-rack rails come with SE and SEL trims. Noteworthy options include a sizable panoramic sunroof, a navigation system (improved for this year), and a music hard drive, and an iPod connection. The navigation and audio setup also includes DVD video playback when the vehicle is stopped, and an SD memory card slot. The top Dynaudio system remains offered only on the Tiguan SEL 4Motion model.