- Turbo-4 is frisky
- Optional all-wheel drive
- High-quality interior
- Aging design
- Far too pricey to compete
- Low crash-test ratings
- Disappointing handling
- Nothing exceptional at all
The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan is a roomy crossover SUV, but it's now a nine-year-old design with marginal safety scores and only average handling.
The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan is the smaller of two SUVs now in the VW lineup, below the large and pricey Touareg. It's small compared to the other compact crossovers it competes with, and the conservative design has aged well. But it's pricey, falls down on safety, and lacks numerous features that are standard or optional on competitors. Trim levels for 2017 have been reshuffled; now you can get a Tiguan in Limited, S, Sport, Wolfsburg, or SEL models.
The Tiguan Limited was a late-introduction model priced about $3,000 less than the Tiguan S—but it's pretty spartan.
This is the ninth and final model year for the current generation of Tiguan, an astoundingly long run in this category. For 2017, the trim levels have been changed and more standard features have added. Last year, all models received Volkswagen's new MIB II infotainment system and finally got a USB port.
In the end, the nine-year-old Tiguan gets a score of just 4.6 on our revised comparison scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.) It's essentially a very tall small car with a lot of utility, a relatively affordable price that climbs fast with options, and more engaging driving feel than its high-volume competitors. But it's not exceptional in any way, and it's long past time for an all-new generation to replace it. Volkswagen will provide just that for the 2018 model year, so look closely for a discount on a 2017 before signing on the dotted line.
VW Tiguan styling and performance
Neither daring nor prosaic, the Tiguan looks exactly like what it is: a tall five-door hatchback that could only be a Volkswagen. The exterior sheet metal is reminiscent of a taller VW Golf. It has clean lines but blends into the background in this segment. Larger wheels offered on the upper trims help the Tiguan look a tougher than your average hatchback.
Interior quality remains above average, especially compared to other compact crossovers. Upholstery and trim materials and details feel polished, assembly gaps are tight, and overall there's a sense of quality closer to that of a premium brand like Audi. The interior is also attractively simple, making it seem as though VW's designers and engineers spent more time on the Tiguan's cabin than its exterior—perhaps not a bad call when it was launched in 2009.
Only a single engine and transmission is offered: it's a 200 horsepower turbocharged inline-4, powering the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional. While the specs sound promising, this is a vehicle tuned for family duty, not for the performance and precision expected from a Golf GTI. It's nimble and far more responsive than a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, but it won't necessarily satisfy driving enthusiasts moving up from that GTI.
The Tiguan can tow up to 2,200 pounds, which is enough to haul jet-skis or ATVs. All-wheel-drive versions make good picks for those in snowy climates, and they only require a 1-mpg fuel-economy sacrifice. The Tiguan's hardly a fuel miser, though; even in front-wheel-drive form, it is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 24 highway, 22 combined; the 4Motion all-wheel-drive model has identical city and highway ratings, but falls to 21 mpg combined. Those aren't stellar numbers by a long shot.
Comfort, safety, and features
Despite its small size, the 2017 Tiguan provides a no-nonsense, versatile, and comfortable cabin. The front seats feel sporty yet remain supportive, with good comfort and an excellent driving position. The second-row seats both slide and tilt, leaving space for adults and offering more cargo space when no one is sitting in the rear. With the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded, you get 56 cubic feet of cargo space, and nearly 24 cubic feet with the seat up. That's good, though less than the likes of the Honda CR-V or Ford Escape. Small "hidden" storage bin under the floor as well as the twin-compartment glove box and various other cubbies throughout the vehicle offer practical storage space for oddments.
Some of the Tiguan's crash-test results are subpar, and it lacks many of the active safety features that have filtered down to the compact crossover class in recent years. It does, however, offer rear side thorax airbags. On all-wheel-drive versions, hill descent control is also included, to help maintain speed on steep slopes, and hill-hold control and an electronic parking brake are standard on all models.
Standard equipment in the base S model includes 16-inch wheels, an infotainment system with a 6.3-inch screen, HD and satellite radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, VW Car-Net App-Connect ability, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, heated seats, lumbar adjustment for the front seats, a trailer hitch prep kit, roof rails, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and keyless access with keyless ignition.
The Tiguan Limited takes out most of those features and has cloth upholstery, but it is $3,000 less.
The Tiguan Sport (which replaces the SE) includes 18-inch gray aluminum-alloy wheels, body-color bumpers and sills and rear bumper, a sport suspension, and Climatronic automatic dual-zone climate control. The Wolfsburg Edition, which replaces the former R-Line model, features special badging and floormats and a standard panoramic sunroof. The top-of-the-line SEL adds those features plus leather seating surfaces, a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, a navigation system, and memory for the driver’s seat. A new leather package available on the three lowest trim levels adds leather seating surfaces, power folding door mirrors, power driver and passenger seats with driver’s side memory.