2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 9, 2008

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan aims for the likes of the Honda CR-V and hits a little higher--in price and sophistication.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Volkswagen Tiguan to write this comprehensive review. Our car experts also drove the Volkswagen Tiguan in Europe and in the U.S., to be able to deliver our definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class, and to give you the best advice when other reviews have conflicting opinions.

The little brother of the Volkswagen Touareg, the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover vehicle in the vein of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

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A derivative of the Volkswagen Rabbit platform, the 2009 Tiguan sports a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. A 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four is for now the only engine in the lineup, though a version of the new 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder is expected later in the model year.

The new 2009 VW Tiguan is 173.2 inches long, 72.8 inches wide, and 66.5 inches high. A flexible interior package includes second-row split bench seats that can slide and tilt. The Tiguan's seats are both sporty and supportive, yet pleasantly easy to climb in and out of. There's no chintzing out on the back row, either, where even taller passengers can ride behind taller drivers without feeling cramped. VW has paid attention to storage, too: The cargo compartment has a small hidden storage bin underneath the load floor, and there's a twin glove box up front.

The 2009 Tiguan's an agile crossover, enhanced by a new electro-mechanical steering system and a multilink rear suspension. Even with the relatively sophisticated suspension, it can't escape its roots. The ride, steering, and braking are tuned for all-around capability, not ultimate precision--it rides far better than some larger crossovers like the BMW X3, for example.

Safety is comprehensive, with six airbags and stability control standard. The all-wheel-drive system on some versions sports an "offroad" mode, which, with the push of a dashboard button, will activate a raft of alternative safety features like hill descent control.

Visually, the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan hits a safe spot between the more daring Honda CR-V and Volkswagen's own compact Jetta lineup. The grille and headlamps are an interesting look for a small ute, and inside is a typically high-quality Volkswagen interior, with richer textures and finishes than you'd get in a rival crossover. This time, Volkswagen hasn't shorted itself on features, either--the Tiguan offers a navigation system, an iPod input, a music hard drive, and a huge panoramic sunroof.

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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

Styling

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan has European styling that rivals the much more expensive BMW X3 and dares to be different than the American and Asian competition.

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is another fresh statement from a company that is known for its strong styling. Both inside and out, the new VW Tiguan proves to be a hit in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is "your typical sport-utility," according to Edmunds, and for 2009, the Tiguan VW is available in "three trim levels: S, SE and SEL." According to Cars.com, "the [VW] Tiguan looks like a smaller version of VW's Touareg 2 midsize SUV until you step around back, where it looks like the rear end of a Rabbit compact hatchback." Road & Track generally concurs, though it notes the VW Tiguan's exterior styling "is an interesting blend of Touareg and GTI." Autoblog says the VW Tiguan "looks pretty bitchin' to us," and they give it credit for not just being a "prettied-up tall Golf."

Edmunds reviewers report that the Tiguan VW "boasts a number of cues first established on the Concept A," a VW show car from several years ago, "including its bold chrome grille and swoopy headlamp treatment." However, the concept car had a more "sporting, coupe-like silhouette with a roof line that plunged to the rear," whereas the production Tiguan VW has a more upright roofline that's more practical, which should appeal to the masses. The Auto Channel says the VW Tiguan's styling is "clean, graceful, modern and attractive."

The exterior of the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is very well received by reviewers, and the interior doesn't disappoint either. For those who've spent some time in Europe, Edmunds says that "if the interior of the new Volkswagen looks familiar, it's no coincidence," adding that "in a bid to keep development costs down, Volkswagen has provided its new SUV with the same basic cabin architecture as the European-market Golf Plus." That interior is highly rated by The Auto Channel, which says the "interior is attractive as well" and the "gauges, controls, and everything we interact with are thoughtfully placed." Kelley Blue Book also appreciates the "thoughtful" layout of the interior controls.

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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

Performance

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan rides comfortably and is capable off-road, but as good as the engine is, it's still a couple stables away from being considered truly powerful.

Like many well-executed crossovers, the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan offers several of the capabilities of a small SUV with the much smoother ride and better handling of a car.

The VW Tiguan comes with just one underhood option, which Edmunds says is "Volkswagen's familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4." The Auto Channel reports that the engine "makes just 200 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque," which "are not particularly impressive numbers," but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the engine is more than adequate for the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan. Kelley Blue Book reviewers love the engine on the Tiguan VW, calling it "arguably one of the best four-cylinder engines on the market" and "a willing supplier of horsepower and torque." ConsumerGuide finds "the Tiguan has ample power," but they say there is "some turbo lag that is most noticeable when exiting a slow corner." In terms of acceleration numbers, Road & Track claims the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan "goes from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds," which is respectable, if not overwhelming.

Edmunds reports the "standard gearbox is a six-speed manual" on the 2009 VW Tiguan, though Kelley Blue Book adds that a "six-speed automatic transmission" is optional. Consumer Guide says "the automatic includes a sport mode and Tiptronic manual control that is activated through the console-mounted shift lever." The Auto Channel is disappointed to find that the automatic is not "the smooth, quick-shifting DSG transmission from the GTI and GLI," but they note "the DSG will be used later." In a nod to the Tiguan VW's off-road aspirations, the 4Motion AWD system is available as an option, but Road & Track points out it's "available only with the automatic."

One of the purported benefits of a crossover versus a traditional SUV is that crossovers theoretically get better gas mileage. While that may be true for many crossovers, EPA estimates show that the 2009 VW Tiguan isn't exactly thrifty when it comes to gasoline consumption. The EPA estimates for a manual-transmission VW Tiguan are 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while the automatic and 4Motion versions both get an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway. The pain doesn't end there, however, as Mother Proof notes it's "unfortunate that the Tiguan requires premium gasoline" to fuel its thirsty engine.

The ride and handling of the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan are better than those found on an SUV, but some crossovers are even more refined. According to ConsumerGuide, the steering has a light touch at lower speeds, but feels "accurate" at higher speeds with "little need for correction." Edmunds is impressed by the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan and says it "remains poised through corners while the tires remain firmly planted on the pavement." Motor Trend agrees, gushing that the VW Tiguan's suspension is tuned to "near perfection." Although Kelley Blue Book reports the Tiguan's ride "is fine so long as the pavement below remains smooth, and the steering response, braking and overall drivability are above average for this class," Edmunds reviewers, in test drives of prototype Tiguans with VW's AWD system through the rugged roads of Namibia, find that the Tiguan "displayed progressive handling with confidence-building response when pushed hard in corners." The test drivers praise the Tiguan's stable ride at speed and its linear steering, declaring that the ride quality is "nicely compliant on pockmarked roads." Stopping is a breeze as well in the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, and ConsumerGuide observes the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan's brakes offer strong stopping power and "good pedal feel."

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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan has a roomy and comfortable interior, along with ample cargo space and impeccable build quality.

Like many of its corporate siblings, the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan scores well with reviewers in terms of comfort, quality, and functionality.

Edmunds notes that although the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan offers seating for five, "the middle rear seat is compromised somewhat by a raised cushion." Fortunately, that's one of the few criticisms of the interior of the VW Tiguan. Most other reviewers agree with Motor Trend, which says that "6-plus footers get plenty of headroom and legroom whether up front or in back." Mother Proof loves how the seats "are molded for support without being hard," and while "they're not power adjustable, the eight-way manual seat adjustment worked just fine." Road & Track reviewers also praise the interior for being "comfortable, quiet and roomy, especially with the sliding rear seats."

Most of the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the Tiguan VW for its ample cargo capacity. Motor Trend says "cargo space is more than adequate, and it doubles from 23.68 to 56.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down." Cars.com notes that the "rear seat can be folded flat from the cargo area, but moving it forward reveals a crevice in the load floor for storing small items." Inside the cabin of the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, Mother Proof reviewers note "decent-sized bins in the front doors," as well as "two seatback pockets and a center console with a power outlet."

One of the highlights on the VW Tiguan is the superb quality level, both in terms of construction and materials. ConsumerGuide says "the dashboard deftly combines soft touch and hard plastics for a pleasing appearance." According to Motor Trend, the Tiguan VW "features a high-quality interior full of rich plastics and tight tolerances," while Cars.com notes that "being a Volkswagen, the Tiguan has a well-designed interior with high-quality materials." The Auto Channel contends that "the Tiguan's interior is attractive with fine materials, impeccable fit and finish and clean, efficient layout." Kelley Blue Book adds to the praise by reporting that the "up-level SE and SEL trims, with their contrasting materials and optional leather seating, are quite appealing."

One area where the high level of build quality shines through is in noise reduction. ConsumerGuide reports "there's a little wind noise on the highway, but the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is nearly silent at cruise." Mother Proof agrees and is impressed to find the 2009 VW Tiguan "pretty quiet on the inside."

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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

Safety

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is one of the safest vehicles in its class, as well as one of the lowest-price utility vehicles to offer rear side thorax airbags.

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan combines an impressive list of safety features with some coveted safety hardware from the insurance industry to create a strong overall safety resume.

While the federal government hasn't yet had a chance to test the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, the good folks at the IIHS have managed to put one through their rigorous evaluations, and the results are heartening. Not only did the Tiguan VW earn the highest possible rating, "good," in both IIHS tests, it also picked up an IIHS Top Safety Pick award for 2009. In deciding to award the 2009 VW Tiguan, the IIHS mentioned the Tiguan's "good performance in front, side, and rear tests" and the "standard electronic stability control."

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan isn't wanting for safety features, as according to Motor Trend, every VW Tiguan includes "ABS, an anti-slip program and electronic differential lock, engine braking assist, electronic brake force distribution and electronic stabilization." Edmunds adds that the Tiguan includes "front side airbags, curtain side airbags, rear side airbags, an engine immobilizer and child door locks." According to Kelley Blue Book, "front, front-side and front and rear side-curtain" airbags are standard, and furthermore, "rear side thorax airbags" are optional for the 2009 VW Tiguan.

In addition to the wealth of airbags and electronic safety features offered on the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, VW's newest crossover also affords great visibility from the driver's seat. Edmunds isn't shy about talking up the sightlines, saying that "outward visibility is excellent," and other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree with that assessment.

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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

Features

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is well equipped for urban duties, while the optional navigation system makes off-road adventures much less stressful.

With an MSRP of $23,890 for a base model, the editors at TheCarConnection.com feel that the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is well equipped for its price level, though it suffers from a price premium versus some competitors.

With three available trim levels, the standard features on the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan lineup understandably varies depending on the exact model you buy. All 2009 VW Tiguans come with "power heated side mirrors" and "air conditioning," along with full power accessories and an "AM/FM stereo with single CD player," according to Kelley Blue Book. The Auto Channel feels that "even the entry-level [VW Tiguan] is very well equipped" with "plenty of power features and nice trim," though ConsumerGuide says that moving up to the SE and SEL trims of the Tiguan VW will add an "8-way power driver seat" and "in-dash 6-disc CD changer," among other things.

The standard features on the 2009 VW Tiguan are pretty, well, standard, but the options list is where the fun really begins. Road & Track points out that the 2009 Tiguan VW offers "some options with each trim level...that the competition does not, including a panoramic sunroof" and "heated seats and dual-zone climate control." Kelley Blue Book adds that a "300-watt Dynaudio stereo" is optional, while Car and Driver mentions that the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan offers a "30-gig touch-screen navigation/infotainment system [that] even includes an off-road function that allows for the storage of as many as 500 memory points."

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April 15, 2015
For 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

The Tiguan has a very good suspension and drive train. It handles very well and is fast and quick to respond.

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The fit and finish are very good. They layout and logic of the controls is as well. We chose a fully loaded model and are very pleased. 145000 kilometers over the last 6 years and the car still feels like new... + More »
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