- Powerful turbo four
- Available all-wheel drive
- Spacious interior
- Upscale materials
- Uninspired handling
- Notchy manual gearbox
- Uncompetitive value
- Staid design
The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan delivers on all of the important small-crossover promises, although it's not as exciting as some other VWs.
The Tiguan is Volkswagen's smaller SUV, slotting in below the Touareg. It's a right-size two-row crossover that performs well, wrapped in conservative styling that has aged gracefully. However, the Tiguan is not stunning or exceptional in any way; it won't win any awards for its interior packaging, price tag, or tech features.
While the Tiguan is one of the more tame offerings from Volkswagen, it doesn't skimp on interior quality, especially when compared to others in its class of compact crossovers. The interior is also nicer than those of many other Volkswagen small cars, making it seem as though the designers and engineers spent the most time on the Tiguan's interior. The exterior sheetmetal is reminiscent of a taller version of a VW Golf–clean lines, but a little unexciting in this segment. Larger wheels offered on the upper trims of the Tiguan help it look a little tougher than a smaller hatchback.
As part of a mild refresh for 2012, VW increased the Tiguan's level of standard equipment; base models remain more expensive than many rival vehicles, in part due to a larger complement of standard features. All Tiguans include a decent sound system with a CD player, an iPod adapter, SiriusXM satellite radio, and hands-free Bluetooth calling. Mid-level SE models add fog and cornering lamps, heated seats, and VW's V-Tex vinyl seating—which to us is no upgrade from the cloth upholstery, so be sure to try them both. The SEL trim includes leather seats and push-button start, along with a sport suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, LED running lamps, and automatic climate control. For 2015, all trims feature roof-rack rails. Those interested in a manual version of the Tiguan will have to settle for the base model, while the other trims include an automatic transmission as standard equipment.
The Tiguan doesn't hide outstanding performance behind its homely exterior. Although the specs sound promising--a 200-horsepower turbocharged four, optional all-wheel drive--this is a vehicle tuned for family duty, not for the precision expected from a Golf GTI. It's more nimble and responsive than a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, for sure, but the goods simply aren't here to satisfy driving enthusiasts. The Tiguan can tow up to 2,200 pounds—good for jet-skis or ATVs. And all-wheel-drive versions make good picks for those in snowy climates, and only require a small fuel-economy sacrifice.
The Tiguan is essentially a very tall small car with a lot of utility, an affordable price, and good gas mileage. This vehicle is probably the best fit for a growing family that wants something with a little more flexibility, or to the older driver who likes the easier entry/exit and seating position of a city-oriented crossover. The Tiguan also delivers a no-nonsense, versatile, and comfortable interior package. Front seats feel sporty yet supportive, with good comfort and an excellent driving position, while the second-row seats slide and tilt, leaving ample space for adults and the ability to increase cargo space when no one is in back. With the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded, you get 56 cubic feet of cargo space, and nearly 24 with the seat up. Those with a lot of items to secure will appreciate the small 'hidden' storage bin under the floor as well as the twin-compartment glovebox and various other cubbies throughout the vehicle.
If you're okay with the simple look, it's hard to find a fault in the Tiguan. While it's no design leader, a quick glance around the cabin should be enough to understand where this crossover really shines: Materials and details feel polished, assembly gaps are tight, and overall there's a sense of quality that's usually the domain of a premium brand like Audi.
Some of the Tiguan's crash-test results are subpar, although Volkswagen does offer a few more safety features than are typically found in a small crossover such as this. Front and side airbags are standard, while rear side thorax airbags—not often available in this class—are an option here. On all-wheel-drive versions, hill descent control is also included, to help maintain speed on steep slopes, while hill-hold control and an electronic parking brake are now included on all models.
For 2015, the Tiguan receives a host of standard-feature upgrades. A rearview camera, roof rails, VW's Car-Net connected services, and satellite radio are standard on all models. A large panoramic sunroof is now included on SE models with the Appearance package, while all SE models receive heated front seats bundled with heated windshield-washer nozzles. The R-Line trim now comes with a unique rear bumper design.