2019 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
October 31, 2018

The 2019 VW Tiguan has a spacious interior and a comfortable ride, but its price climbs quickly.

Among crossover SUVs, the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan stands out for its spacious interior—so long as every seat isn’t filled in seven-seat versions.

The VW Tiguan aces real-world utility with its excellent outward vision, comfortable interior, available active safety gear, and good infotainment system. It’s less thrifty than some rivals and its third row—well, the dog will like it.

Overall, we rate the 2019 VW Tiguan at 6.0 out of 10. Notably, that figure doesn’t account for a safety score since the Tiguan hasn’t been fully crash tested. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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After an extensive redesign last year, the Tiguan is unchanged for 2019.

Available in S, SE, and SEL trim levels, the Tiguan comes standard with front-wheel drive and offers all-wheel drive as an option. A 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 184 horsepower is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Tiguan rides softly, with good composure thanks in part to its 109.8-inch wheelbase. Its steering is quick and light, and it has a confident feel on a curvy road.

At 24 mpg combined with all-wheel drive, the Tiguan lags competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, which come closer to 30 mpg combined.

Those rivals don’t offer three rows of seats, although we don’t consider the third row that’s standard on front-drive Tiguans and optional with all-wheel drive to be a major asset. The Tiguan’s front seats are firm and supportive, while row two boasts excellent ingress and egress and a bench that slides forward for more leg room or cargo space. That third row, though. It robs valuable cargo room.  

Most Tiguans have standard active safety hardware such as automatic emergency braking, and the IIHS has given it a Top Safety Pick award, but the NHTSA hasn't rated the compact crossover yet.

At about $29,000 with all-wheel drive, the Tiguan SE is a lot of crossover for the money. The range-topping Tiguan SEL Premium trim level loads on niceties such as a digital instrument cluster, a panoramic moonroof, adaptive cruise control, and leather upholstery, but it costs nearly $40,000.

All Tiguans include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The 2019 Tiguan is not related to the Tiguan Limited, an older design that VW discontinued after the 2018 model year but may still be in dealer inventories.

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

Styling

The 2019 VW Tiguan is an exercise in styling restraint.

The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan’s styling is forgettable—unless it’s painted in bright orange. It may not be the boldest compact crossover SUV, but the 2019 Tiguan has clean, simple lines that will age well.

We rate it at 6 out of 10, giving it a point for its exterior styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Tiguan stretches about 185 inches from bumper to bumper, making it among the largest compact crossover SUVs. Up front, its grille is wide but not tall, and it’s flanked by halogen headlights on most trims. The Tiguan SEL Premium is the only trim with LED headlights.

From the side, the Tiguan’s long, nearly 110-inch wheelbase gives it big doors for easy ingress and egress. The long rear door doesn’t do much for its looks, however. The Tiguan’s tail end is simple and pert, with LED taillights on all trims parked high on the rear fenders and tailgate.

Standard 17-inch wheels on the Tiguan S look small in the crossover’s wheel wells. The 18- and 20-inch wheels available on SE and SEL trims fill things out better.

The optional R-Line appearance package is costly, about $1,500, and it doesn’t add any functionality.

Inside, the Tiguan has a low, car-like dashboard that follows the same simple design theme as its exterior. A 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment takes up residence below climate vents and above controls for heating, air conditioning, and some secondary functions. VW offers a wide selection of interior hues, such as coal bin black or two-tone black and orange.

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

Performance

The 2019 VW Tiguan has little power to spare, but its suspension provides a luxurious ride.

The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 is tasked with lugging around a relatively heavy crossover SUV. The results are predictably leisurely, but we like its cosseting ride quality enough to give it a 6 out of 10 for its performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The turbo-4 is rated at 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque and it shuttles power to either the front or all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. The 2019 Tiguan’s engine builds power quickly, but its transmission can fire off clunky shifts around town and despite the number of cogs it’s not eager about downshifting for highway passing.

We’ve noticed a gruff, unrefined feel to the engine at low speeds away from a stop, too.

What we do like is the Tiguan’s comfortable ride. It takes undulating pavement in stride, even with the optional 20-inch wheels with their narrow sidewalls.

The Tiguan’s flat-bottom three-spoke steering wheel could have been plucked from a VW GTI, but steering feel is limited. The Tiguan handles with poise and confidence, although it’s light on entertainment even in the sport mode that adds heft but not road communication.

At highway speeds, the Tiguan boasts excellent straight-line stability and limited wind and road roar.

The optional all-wheel-drive system provides surefooted traction on dirt roads and in snowy conditions. With 7.9 inches of ground clearance and long overhangs, the Tiguan is less suited to rocky trails to campsites than a few of its rivals, however.  

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

Comfort & Quality

Plenty of space for everyone can be found in the 2019 VW Tiguan, as long as they’re not in the optional third row.

The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan splits the difference between compact and mid-size crossover SUVs, meaning it’s more spacious than a Honda CR-V but not as big inside as a Toyota Highlander.

For many shoppers, it hits the sweet spot. We rate the 2019 Tiguan at 8 out of 10, with points above average for comfortable front- and second-row seats and another for its spacious cargo hold. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The VW Tiguan’s front seats are firm and supportive, with good adjustment and lumbar support. The standard cloth upholstery on the Tiguan S has a grippy, tough feel, although the synthetic leather fitted to SE and SEL trims is durable and easy to clean. The Tiguan SEL Premium drapes its interior in leather—as it should for nearly $39,000.

Access to the second row is via one of the biggest door openings this side of a Boeing 737. Once aboard, passengers in coach class will find leg room more akin to Main Cabin Extra or Economy Plus when the three-seat bench is slid all the way back. The bench slides forward to expand cargo capacity to 48.6 cubic feet on five-seat Tiguans. The optional third row seat—mandatory with front-wheel drive—robs about 2.5 cubic feet.

The Tiguan’s third row is difficult to access and not suitable for adults. Kids who can fit back there are probably small enough that they should be in booster seats, which robs more utility.

Our advice? If you need a third row VW, look across the showroom at the larger Atlas.

The Tiguan has decent interior materials for what it costs. Soft-touch, low-sheen surfaces drape its front doors and dashboard. As is typical for compact crossover SUVs, rear-seat riders get stuck with hard plastics. At least there are two small vents to cool or warm those passengers.

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

Safety

Surprisingly, the 2019 VW Tiguan has not been fully crash tested by the NHTSA.

What crash tests have been performed on the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan have yielded good results, but we’re still waiting on the feds to run one into a wall.

Until then, our scoreboard here is incomplete. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All but the base Tiguan S come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and blind-spot monitors. Those features cost about $850 on the S trim—money well spent.

The Tiguan SEL adds adaptive cruise control, while the SEL Premium includes active lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and parking sensors.

The IIHS rated the Tiguan a Top Safety Pick last year when fitted with automatic emergency braking, but that award doesn’t carry over into this year. The insurance industry-funded group said that the halogen headlights fitted to the Tiguan S, SE, and SEL rated “Poor,” while the LED headlights on the SEL Premium rated “Marginal.”

The NHTSA performed side-impact crash tests on the 2019 Tiguan. It earned five stars, but  the feds noted that the driver’s door unlatched and opened during their test. The feds have not performed frontal crash tests on the 2019 Tiguan.

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

Features

The base 2019 VW Tiguan is a good value, but loaded models are surprisingly expensive.

Overall, we rate the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan at 6 out of 10. It’s priced well to start and includes an extensive warranty. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At about $28,000 with all-wheel drive and a $850 option package that includes active safety tech, the 2019 Tiguan S is a good value. It includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, and cruise control. It’s hardly lavish, but it’s not lacking much.

The Tiguan SE costs about $29,000, and it’s the one we’d buy. For that extra $1,000, buyers get an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, standard active tech, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and synthetic leather upholstery.

The costliest Tiguan is the SEL Premium. With its leather seats, power liftgate, active lane control, parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and Fender audio system, it’s equipped—and priced—like a luxury crossover. With all-wheel drive and a $1,500 R-Line appearance package, the Tiguan SEL Premium costs about $40,000.

All Tiguans include a 6-year, 72,000-mile warranty that’s transferable to subsequent owners.

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

Fuel Economy

The 2019 VW Tiguan uses a lot more fuel than some of its competitors.

Fuel economy isn’t one of the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan’s assets. At 21 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined with all-wheel drive, it’s easily outpaced by rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Subaru Forester.

On our scale, the 2019 VW Tiguan lands at 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front-wheel-drive Tiguans are only slightly thriftier at 22/27/24 mpg. The Tiguan uses regular unleaded fuel.

Rivals with front-wheel drive almost all earn better fuel economy ratings from the EPA than the Tiguan. The Honda CR-V scores 30 mpg combined and the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Rogue are rated at 29 mpg combined.

Even with all-wheel drive, the CR-V and Subaru Forester are rated at 29 mpg combined.

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6.0
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 4
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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Tiguan is here; 2018s still available with special savings opportunity
  • Rebates: $1,000 bonus cash + $500 for select customers
  • Lease: From $189 per month for 39 months
  • Finance: From 1.9% APR for 60 months
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