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.
For smoothness, refinement, and overall responsiveness, the Tiguan's engine is one of the best in this class; it produces plenty of torque without needing to rev, so it's as well-suited with the automatic transmission as with the manual. Likewise, the engine seems to deal well with a heavy load—and in case you want to tow a small trailer, it's good for up to 2,200 pounds. Although the manual version might be a little more fun, you'll have to content with a shift linkage that's light but, compared to other VW efforts, very imprecise.
The electromechanical steering and multilink rear suspension are integral to the agility of this compact crossover, but a lack of feedback means the steering can sometimes feel very vague—good if you're a lazy driver but bad if you enjoy a spirited drive. Push the Tiguan hard and it's no more rewarding to drive than those other crossovers.