When it came time to redesign the Tiguan, VW’s image of the North American-market guided the design and specifications. It went from being one of the shortest five-seaters in the segment to be one of the longest – even allowing for an optional third row. The Tiguan seems to have traded in its enthusiasm for curves to become a natural highway cruiser.
This top-trim SEL Premium is $38,190 and includes everything one could expect that that price. LED headlights with adaptive curve control, LED fog lights with corner illumination, power-folding heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, 19-inch wheels, and heated washer nozzles. The interior is highlighted by the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital display in the gauge cluster while the leather-wrapped steering wheel, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leatherette seating, heated front seats, and a panoramic roof are standard fare for this price. The Fender audio sound system produces good sound and connects with SiriusXM while three USB ports and a wireless charging pad ensure no one goes with a dead battery.
This top-trim SEL includes the full suite of active safety equipment with active cruise control that works as expected – nothing more, nothing less, lane keep assist system that never felt intrusive, blind-spot alert, and rear traffic alert which was good at identifying a bicyclist crossing behind. The overhead view camera is always appreciated in tight areas.
Styling and Size
The blocky shaped exterior can seem over-simplified though, the high tech lights and chrome trim add a sense of sophistication. The same is true inside with plain shapes but good quality materials and the dual screens provide the only visual interest. All seats wear the sharp-angle design theme, however, their cushions’ flatness feels unsupportive. The cargo area is large in depth and height with the only qualm being the seatback release levers that felt less precise than its competitors. The hands-free power tailgate system is easy to use.
Power and Efficiency
The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivers 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque while the on-demand all-wheel-drive helps the Tiguan from point A to point B with few surprises. The EPA estimated 20/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined is significantly behind the class leaders (not to mention the hybrids) though it is more powerful. The 8-speed automatic transmission is quick to initiate downshifts though the widely spaced ratios and relaxed shift speeds demonstrate that smoothness is the priority. The engine delivers good power as RPM builds and its strong mid-range plateau of torque provides confidence when negotiating traffic, especially at high altitudes. Unfortunately, the engine makes raucous noises that draw comparisons to a commercial-type diesel engine even when accelerating casually. Another area for improvement involves the abrupt initial throttle tip-in which makes slow-speed driving and starting from a stop something that now requires more concentration than what should be necessary.
Ride and Handling
The Tiguan feels like a solid cruiser that soaks up the large dips and sharp bumps with a thick sense of isolation and good body control. The steering is accurate and the brake pedal requires just a light touch making them feel powerful and confidence-inspiring. The Tiguan’s large size may be one of the culprits to its lack of enthusiasm for athletic driving.
The VW Tiguan becomes difficult to fault as it goes about its business with a sense of purpose. However, it lacks a sense of thought-provoking design.