2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
May 3, 2018

Buying tip

Skip the third row if you can. Any extra cash should be spent on helping the base audio system, which isn’t very good.

What it lacks in personality, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan crossover SUV makes up for with its clean approach.

Second chances don’t come easily, but not much about Volkswagen has been painless recently. The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is a big compact crossover SUV—or a small mid-sizer, perhaps—climbing the comeback trail for the automaker. Like the full-size Atlas, the Tiguan aims straight at buyers’ preferences for tall-riding vehicles that are full on tech and light on price.

Shoppers interested in compact crossover SUVs are embarrassed by choices right now; each automaker is putting its best foot forward to lure buyers into showrooms. Volkswagen’s effort is admirable, if somewhat anodyne, and is a solid step back into some buyers’ good graces.

We give the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan a 6.8 overall, which reflects our opinion of the available features and comfort. We expect that score may rise when official safety data is made available. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Volkswagen earns points for a crossover SUV that does everything asked of it. The new Tiguan is more spacious than its predecessor with a relatively quiet ride, compelling price, and modest improvements in fuel economy. It lacks the driving appeal of the new Mazda CX-5, fuel frugality of the Honda CR-V, or the mass appeal of the Toyota RAV4, but Volkswagen has an ace that its competitors don’t—or won’t.

The new Tiguan (like the Atlas) comes with a superlative 6-year/72,000-mile new car warranty that is transferrable to successive buyers. That should improve resale values for the Tiguan during that time, and give new owners peace of mind. Volkswagen’s guarantee is more than generous compared to other automakers.

Beyond its superlative warranty, the Volkswagen Tiguan struggles to carve a niche for itself. Its available third row is like the comparable Nissan Rogue’s wayback (which was dropped for 2018, curiously enough)—best for very occasional use only—and the Tiguan’s turbo-4 feels labored at times on the road.

The Tiguan S trim serves as the base and won’t impress many buyers beyond its low entry price of $25,345. Mid-level SE models start to wash away those feelings with better upholstery and a larger touchscreen. SEL or SEL Premium models pile on tech and conveniences.


2018 Volkswagen Tiguan


Sharp, functional, and pretty conservative, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is a T-square’s dream.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan steps out with a new shape and a new size that won’t be instantly recognizable to past Volkswagen crossover owners. The new Tiguan eschews the former model’s rounded approach for sharper, chiseled edges and a more intimidating nose. It’s a contemporary look, albeit not very daring.

We give the new version a 6 out of 10 on our styling scale for a better-than-average look outside, but a mostly straightforward look inside. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Tiguan manages to get right what other automakers have largely forgotten in crossovers: the rear end. The Volkswagen Tiguan is sharp coming or going, and more rear glass in the Tiguan’s liftgate has suppressed a rising window line that has given other crossovers a visual wedgie.

Up front, the Tiguan copy/pastes the horizontal grille, bumpers, and lower fascia from the Atlas. Subtle creases in the hood are the only stylistic touches to the Tiguan, and even those aren’t particularly blatant—they just stand out in comparison to the rest of the crossover.

In profile, the Tiguan isn’t as chunky or masculine or the Atlas, and the Tiguan doesn’t use blockier wheel arches to strike a tougher pose. A relatively low window line and wide rear doors bode well for entry, exit, and visibility, but swim upstream from the current crossover trend of high-waisted cabins.

A pronounced flyline from the front fender rearward is the Tiguan’s only modern touch, and helps to visually separate the top half of the car from the bottom half without resorting to gimmicky floating roofs—or worse.

An R-Line package available on Tiguan SEL and SEL Premium trims provides a more upscale look with color-coordinated exterior trim and upsized alloy wheels, but it doesn't add any performance upgrades.

Inside, the Tiguan is a modern-day pledge of function over form. It’s very clean and simple without much fuss. If you’ve ever opened an iPhone box in the last decade you’ll recognize VW’s approach here; it’s unexciting packaging that shoppers find strangely attractive.

An 8.0-inch center touchscreen dominates attention in SE models and higher—SEL Premium models swap out the center gauges for a 12.3-inch driver information display that’s sharp.

Interior hues aren’t daring, and shoppers looking for more spice may need to wait for Tiguan R-Line models that may add a little more flair.

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan


Soft, quiet, but not particularly quick, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is best as an urban runabout.

No doubt, there may have been other plans for the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan when it was conceived roughly five years ago, but we’ve come a long way, baby.

Today, the Volkswagen Tiguan is offered with one engine only, a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque.

That’s down on hp but up on twist from the last engine, with predictable results. Its only accomplice is an 8-speed automatic, which can shuffle power through the front wheels, or all four wheels when equipped.

Tasked with carrying nearly two tons, the turbo-4 runs out of ideas quickly, and the transmission doesn’t help the situation. We give the Tiguan one point above average for its placid ride. It earns a 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Tiguan’s turbo-4 is new for Volkswagen and is engineered for efficiency. Its 184 hp output is down on the current model’s 200 hp, but up on torque to 221 lb-ft from 207 lb-ft.

The devil, they say, is in the details. The 2018 Volkswagen delivers smooth, but pressing power, early on in the rev range. Most of the engine’s available twist comes on early, down at 1,600 rpm, which helps the Tiguan feel like a titan on takeoff. At higher revs and speeds, the Tiguan quickly runs out of breath. In our drives in and around the Rocky Mountains, we found that the Tiguan took roughly 10 seconds to accelerate from 60 mph to 80 mph, about the same speeds it’d take to execute a pass on the interstate.

That’s not especially quick for the class, but few stand out in that category anyway.

The engine is exclusively paired to an 8-speed automatic that’s tuned for efficiency and helps the Tiguan achieve a competitive 23-mpg combined rating. As a result, the automatic hesitates to kick down and doesn’t feel particularly bright. Upshifts are quick and crisp, the Tiguan is eager to find third gear before the other side of the intersection.

Aside from any powertrain deficit, the Tiguan excels at coddling passengers with an easy ride and competent handling. The same basic setup from last year remains: struts up front and multilink rear corners, although the Tiguan feels like it’s more softly sprung this time around.

That feeling is duplicated into the steering, which is light and doesn’t change much by putting the Tiguan into “Sport” mode.

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Comfort & Quality

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is near the tops in its class for comfort in its first two rows.

Volkswagen clearly prioritized comfort with the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan and its efforts have paid dividends.

Padding for the front seats is thin, but above average, and the rear seats boast exceptional leg room. Cargo space in two-row Tiguans is much improved—a shortcoming of the old version—and its ride is outstanding. The Tiguan earns an 8 out of 10 on our comfort scale, with an important note: the third row isn’t very useful at all. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The new Tiguan excels at showing off where it wants you to see, and hiding the places you don’t. Base Tiguan S models are shod in a durable cloth that’s respectable, but also highlights the low entry, or teaser, price. Stepping up to the SE model adds a convincing synthetic  leather that feels better and an 8.0-inch touchscreen that better distracts from some hard, black plastics around the cabin.

The seats are supportive and firm, all-day comfortable with plenty of leg room.

Rear passengers may get the best seats in the house with ample leg room for the tallest legs, and a sliding rear seat that offers supreme flexibility. Two adults will find ample room in the back, but like the last Tiguan, shoulder room may inhibit three adults from riding in back for long.

A third row that’s standard on front-wheel-drive models but optional on all-wheel-drive versions should be carefully considered before opting in. It’s not suitable for adults, seats two and severely inhibits usable cargo room in the Tiguan. Put simply, it’s an occasional bench at best.

In back, the Tiguan boasts 37.6 cubic feet of cargo room, which a couple cubes down on the Honda CR-V, but VW’s wide opening and load loading height make it very accessible.

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan


We don't have enough data to assign the 2018 VW Tiguan a safety score.

Federal testers haven’t yet rated the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan for safety, but the IIHS has rated it a Top Safety Pick.

Until they do, we’re withholding our safety score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The IIHS says the Tiguan earns a "Good" rating in each of the measured crash tests, but it stops short of awarding the crossover top marks because of its subpar headlights. Curiously, the Tiguan's base halogen lights are more effective than the LED units included on the Tiguan SEL Premium. Go figure.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is equipped with a standard complement of airbags and stability and traction control systems. All models include a rearview camera as standard, and Volkswagen’s post-collision braking system that holds the brakes after an impact.

Volkswagen makes available its forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking system on all models, including the base model. It's optional on the Tiguan S and standard elsewhere. Blind-spot monitors are available on every model as well. A surround-view camera system and active lane control are available on top models.

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan


The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is competitively equipped on all models, but we’re all-in on the premium audio.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan has a secret: it boasts one of the most comprehensive warranties for a new car on the road today.

Volkswagen makes standard on the Tiguan a 6-year/72,000-mile new car warranty that is transferable to new owners.

That warranty, a good base infotainment system, and good base equipment help it climb to an 8 out of 10 on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Every Tiguan is equipped with a six-speaker stereo, a rearview camera, a single USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, and at least a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment.

Front-drive models feature a standard third row, while all-wheel drive models (which costs $1,300 more) can be equipped with the short third row for $500 extra.

Stepping up to the SE trim adds leatherette seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, power-adjustable driver’s seat, an available panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, three USB ports, and more available options.

SEL trims are one step away from the top of the range and add remote start, power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, and navigation.

SEL Premiums go the distance with Fender-branded premium audio, more advanced safety features, handsfree liftgate, and leather seats.

Optional on SEL and SEL Premium trims is an R-Line appearance package that adds larger wheels and some unique styling touches, but no performance upgrades.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on all models along with VW’s telematics services.

Two words about the base audio system: it’s not great. We’d heavily recommend opting for the premium audio system on all but base models. Consider saving money by skipping the third row when going for the all-wheel-drive models.

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Fuel Economy

Not as efficient as some, but better than others, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan should dependably manage 24 mpg combined.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is rated nearly identically, regardless of driven wheels.

Front-drive models are rated at 22 mpg city, 27 highway, 24 combined. All-wheel-drive versions, VW calls 4Motion, are rated 21/27/23 mpg. That’s good enough for a 6 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The rating shouldn’t be hard to duplicate in real-world conditions. In our early drives around Colorado, where engines are starved for oxygen and mileage sinks, the 2.0-liter turbo-4 managed 23.7 mpg by our calculations in 71.6 miles of combined driving. That’s impressive, but it’s not class-leading.

Honda’s smaller-displacement 1.5-liter turbo-4 has been rated as high as 30 mpg combined, which is achievable with a light foot. Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid does better than that, it’s rated at 32 mpg.

Both of those competitors can manage much better mileage, but with some caveats. The Volkswagen Tiguan’s mileage is dependable, repeatable, and real. That’s not bad.

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July 12, 2018
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL 4MOTION

Nice ride, enjoy driving

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Same as above not real fond of the shut off while driving
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February 26, 2018
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4MOTION

2018 VW Tiguan Personal Experience Review

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The purpose of this review is not to delve into the detailed technical aspects but rather from a owner/driver perspective of how the vehicle behaved in varied conditions along with personal pros/cons given the... + More »
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December 26, 2017
For 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Very pleased with minimal complaints.

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There are very little complaints I have with the Tiguan. But there is one thing. Living in a cold winter climate (Buffalo) I am finding myself constantly pouring warm water over the door because it always... + More »
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Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
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