2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Performance

7.0
Performance

Volkswagen's reputation for driving fun wants to carry over to the Tiguan. Some sensations make their way through, but there's not much VW can do to alter physics--the Tiguan still has the road manners of a tall wagon, even if it's one with more steering feel than the usual CR-V or RAV4.

All Tiguans sport a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. Front-wheel-drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is an option. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic is an option.

The Tiguan feels more nimble than some crossovers, and its turbo four is gutsy.

The turbocharged four has its usual broad, flat torque curve, and it's teamed well with either transmission; we've spent more time in the automatic, and it's punchy enough so you're rarely bored in urban-cycle driving, though there's more four-cylinder groan in this crossover than turbo moan. VW's manuals tend to feel notchy, but not this one: it's atypically light and imprecise. With either one, the Tiguan's capable of towing up to 2,200 pounds--perfect for dirt bikes or ATVs, VW points out.

Ride and handling are tuned for all-around utility, not pseudo-GTI dynamics. The steering is electric, and lacks feedback; it's quick to respond, but can come off pretty vague, fine for the kind of lazy driving crossovers do quite well. Push the Tiguan briskly, and its multilink rear suspension blunts most difficult road surfaces, but doesn't show any real zeal or tenacity in gripping the road. A Golf R claws at every grain in the asphalt, while this crossover's totally content to cruise over the hot top. The goods just aren't here to satisfy enthusiasts, and they really aren't meant to be, and this is reflected in the ride, steering, and brakes.

When traction changes, the Tiguan's optional all-wheel-drive system has some considerable talent. Most of the time, it's set to deliver 90 percent of torque to the front wheels, and the rest to the back. Once slip is detected, almost all the power can shift to the rear, if needed--good for towing, for example.

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