2014 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 11, 2014

The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan offers just about everything a compact crossover should, though its a little conservative in style and feel.

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a good example of where the VW brand is today, and where it needs to be. The Tiguan's sized well for the U.S. market, handles capably, and has a neat and clean look that's sure to wear well for years. However, it's not remarkable or exceptional in any way, in its price, its technology, or its interior space. That's a tough place to be in the face of good-looking performers like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Escape, and GMC Terrain.

As far as VW cars go, the Tiguan skews on the conservative side of what the brand has produced in recent years–but that includes one of the best-built interiors in its class of compact crossovers. It comes with an interior that's nicer than many of the Volkswagen's other small cars, almost as if the Tiguan was designed from the inside out. Outside, it looks a little like a taller version of a Golf–a little bland for the segment–but the larger wheels offered on the upper trims of the Tiguan help it look a little tougher than a smaller hatchback.

Along with a mild refresh in 2012, VW upped the level of standard equipment in the Tiguan; base models remain above the entry prices for many rival models, however. But feature content throughout the lineup is now impressive. All Tiguans have a decent AM/FM/CD sound system, with an iPod adapter and voice-activated Bluetooth, while at the top of the model line you get leather seats and push-button start in the SEL. Mid-level SE models add fog and cornering lamps, heated seats, and VW's V-Tex vinyl seating—which to us is no upgrade, so try them both. The SEL model includes leather seats and push-button start, along with a sport suspension, bi-xenon headlamps and LED running lamps, and automatic climate control. Both SE and SEL trims get roof-rack rails. There's only one equipment surprise in the Tiguan: If you want a manual version of the Tiguan, you'll have to settle for the more basic base model.

The Tiguan doesn't betray its homely exterior too much. Although the specs might sound promising--200-horsepower turbocharged four, manual or automatic transmissions--this is a vehicle tuned for family duty, not for VW precision. 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. It can tow up to 2,200 pounds—good for jet-skis or ATVs—while all-wheel-drive versions also make good picks for those in snowy climates.

Review continues below

Really, the Tiguan is what it is: a very tall small car with a lot of usefulness, 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 utility, or to the older driver who likes the easier entry/exit and seating position of a city-oriented crossover. Most crossover shoppers also want an interior that's straightforward and versatile—as well as comfortable—and the Tiguan delivers on those expectations. Front seats feel sporty and supportive, with good comfort and an excellent driving position, while the second-row seats slide and tilt, leaving ample space for adults. With the 60/40-split seatbacks folded you get 56 cubic feet of cargo space (nearly 24 with the seat up), with a small 'hidden' storage bin under the floor plus a twin-compartment glovebox and various other cubbies throughout the vehicle.

Throughout the Tiguan, there really isn't a hair out of place. And while it isn't a design leader in any way, just a quick glance around the cabin may be enough to understand where this crossover really shines: Materials and details feel polished, assembly quality is tight, and overall there's a feel that this could conceivably be a vehicle from a premium brand like Audi.

Crash-test results for the Tiguan have fallen to subpar, though Volkswagen continues to offer a few more safety features than you'd typically expect to see in a small crossover. In addition to the usual front and side airbags, 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 control speed on steep slopes, while for 2013 hill-hold control and an electronic parking brake have been added to the entire model line.

7

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Styling

A spartan but high-quality feel is common to the Tiguan, inside or out.

As far as recent VW design goes, the Tiguan lands on the more conservative side of the spectrum. But, that includes excellent attention to details that come together for one knock-out interior–it's almost as if the Tiguan was designed from the inside out. It's a straightforward vehicle with upright design and a clear presentation, but it also comes with nicer appointments than we've seen in many of VW's small cars.

Inside, the Tiguan has a lot more charm, and it's not because the styling itself is that much more flamboyant but because the cabin is so well detailed. It's very straightforward but richly textured, with nice materials and big round gauges, framed simply, and the interior feels like it's from a premium brand—a step up from the somewhat cheapened interiors of the Jetta and Passat sedans.

From the outside, there's really nothing adventurous and nothing exciting about it, and it ends up looking like a grown-upward version of the Golf--with only the larger wheels on some models helping throw it more decisively into the crossover category. Last year the Tiguan got a new grille and some subtle exterior changes that put it back in line with some of VW's recently redesigned vehicles. While the overall look is subdued—it's not really sporty, rugged, or adventurous—the front end is more crisply detailed now and the 19-inch wheels offered on top SEL models do give the whole design a little more punch.

Review continues below
7

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Performance

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

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.

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.

Review continues below
8

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Comfort & Quality

A spacious interior with high-quality fit and finish give the Tiguan a head up on some competitors.

The 2014 VW Tiguan works well for the family in need of a little more utility, as well as older drivers who may prefer its height over smaller, tougher-to-exit city cars.

There are three different upholstery materials used in the Tiguan, and in each case they're tastefully done and have a high-quality look and feel. Base models get cloth, while mid-line models have a vinyl 'leatherette' and top-of-the-line models get true leather. Most versions also have adjustable lumbar support and height-adjustable seats, as well as a power rake adjustment for the driver's seat, but not the passenger seat.

You won't find third-row seats in the Tiguan, of course, but the second row has a level of comfort that almost rivals that of the front, thanks to the tall roofline and a seat design that seems to have prioritized passenger comfort as much as cargo space. Shoulder and leg room are good, and the seats are split to fold, slide, and tilt to improve access to the cargo area. With the 60/40-split seatbacks folded you get 56 cubic feet of cargo space (nearly 24 with the seat up), with a small 'hidden' storage bin under the floor plus a twin-compartment glovebox and various other cubbies throughout the vehicle.

At about 173 inches long and 73 inches wide, the Tiguan has a smaller parking footprint than most compact sedans. Yet its height of 66.5 inches and carlike layout allow lots of cabin space—including very good head room. 

Most crossover shoppers also want an interior that's straightforward and versatile—as well as comfortable—and the Tiguan delivers on those expectations. Front seats feel sporty and supportive, with good comfort and an excellent driving position, while the second-row seats slide and tilt, leaving ample space for adults.

Throughout the Tiguan, there really isn't a hair out of place. And while it isn't a design leader in any way, just a quick glance around the cabin may be enough to understand where this crossover really shines: Materials and details feel polished, assembly quality is tight, and overall there's a feel that this could conceivably be a vehicle from a premium brand like Audi.

Review continues below
6

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Safety

Safety scores have fallen to subpar in the most recent rounds of crash tests.

Crash-test results for the VW Tiguan have fallen with the introduction of new tests. In recent years, it's earned top 'good' results in all categories of testing from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but in the new small-overlap test, it earns just a 'marginal' score.

NHTSA gives the Tiguan an overall four out of five stars, with five stars for side impacts, and four for rollovers--but only three stars in frontal crash tests.

It's worth noting though that outward visibility is better in the Tiguan than in many of the alternatives; thank the tall seating position and relatively level beltline.

In addition to the usual front and side airbags, rear side thorax airbags—not often available in this class—are an option here. On 4Motion all-wheel-drive versions, hill descent control is also included, to help control speed on steep slopes, while for 2014 hill-hold control and an electronic parking brake have been added to the entire model line.

About the only things that are arguably missing from the Tiguan's roster are advanced-safety features such as a rearview camera, parking sensors, blind-spot detectors, and lane-departure warning systems. These features, which might help avoid an accident, are beginning to become available in compact mainstream crossovers. 

Review continues below
8

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Features

Premium feel explains some of the Tiguan's price premium, but not its absence of some features.

There are three available trims on the Tiguan–S, SE and SL–with a big price spread between those models. The base S rings in around $24,000 before options, while a loaded SEL model with 4Motion can approach $40,000.

The Tiguan is no longer as vegan-friendly; all trims now include leather trim for the shift knob and steering wheel. Also new to the lineup is a partial power passenger seat in SE trims, with a full power passenger seat for SEL models.

With the SEL you still do get a level of equipment that's about on par with entry-level luxury-brand models. Here, the 2014 Tiguan includes 19-inch wheels; a sport suspension; leather seating surfaces; a power driver seat; pushbutton start; keyless entry; a power panoramic sunroof; automatic climate control; LED daytime running lights; and a navigation system.

Last year Volkswagen did improve the Tiguan's value by wrapping in more standard features and technology, so the Tiguan stands up better in the market in terms of features for the money than it did a couple of years ago. Included with the base S are 16-inch wheels; power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with eight speakers; cruise control; Bluetooth; cloth upholstery; lumbar adjustment for the front seats; a trailer hitch prep kit; split-folding rear seats; and floor mats. SE models gain leatherette trim, heated seats, and an iPod adapter, along with 18-inch wheels; a multi-function steering wheel; power-recline driver seat; satellite radio; and fog lights. You can option it with a panoramic sunroof and a navigation system for nearly $2000 more.

Review continues below
6

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is just okay; many crossovers fare much better at the pumps.

You'd expect a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and six-speed transmission to get pretty decent fuel economy, but the EPA tells us otherwise. The fuel economy can range from as high as 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway, or as low as 18/26 mpg, depending how you equip your Tiguan.

Those numbers are near the bottom of the crossover class; compared to other four-cylinder compact crossovers. The embarrassing part is that it's even fallen behind some of the newer V-6-powered crossovers in its class. Not only that, the Tiguan also requires drivers use premium fuel.

There are other options, even within the VW fold, for those who deem that unacceptable: The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen offers a TDI clean-diesel engine that's just as perky but offers up to 42 mpg highway.

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$9,981 - $24,988
Browse Used Listings
in your area
7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 6
Features 8
Fuel Economy 6
Compare the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Volkswagen Tiguan?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used