2014 Volkswagen Tiguan Performance

7.0
Performance

Unfortunately, the Tiguan doesn't quite live up to VW's reputation for more-exciting-than-most driving dynamics, but that's not surprising due to its very purpose-driven design.

This is a vehicle tuned for family hauling, rather than sporty driving–even though the 200-horsepower turbo-four and choice of manual or automatic transmissions might suggest otherwise. It's more responsive than a Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Tucson, certainly, but it's just not quite a tried and true enthusiast car. It's good for towing ATVs or jet-skis–with a towing capacity of 2,200 pounds– and the Tiguan's Haldex all-wheel-drive system (called 4Motion in the model line) is great for snowy driveways; it delivers 90 percent of torque to the front wheels most of the time, but once slip is detected it can send more to the wheels where it's needed.

A rorty turbo four-cylinder and compact dimensions should feel a little more lively than this.

The turbocharged four has a broad, flat torque curve, and it's teamed well with either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; we've spent more time in the automatic, and it's punchy enough so you're rarely bored in urban driving. This manual gearbox is atypically light and imprecise, while the automatic makes the most of the engine's torque plateau, so we recommend the latter.

Otherwise, the Tiguan has the road manners you'd expect from a tall wagon. Ride and handling are tuned for all-around utility, not hot-hatch dynamics. The steering can feel a little light and lacking in feedback sometimes, and if you push it too hard in corners the multi-link rear suspension merely blunts out impacts, in favor of sharpness and at the cost of sharpness. There's a lack of zeal and tenacity, and the Tiguan is simply not meant to satisfy serious driving enthusiasts. But at the same time it's safe and responsive enough for most needs—even nimble-feeling compared to other crossovers.

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