VW Tiguan — More room, more features

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Ten inches can make a big difference in the world of small crossover utilities. Just ask the marketing people at Volkswagen. The company's small Tiguan has been a solid value since its introduction in 2009, but has never resonated with buyers in North America because of its small cargo and passenger space compared to competing vehicles in the segment.

For 2018, the Tiguan — which now rides on the same platform as the Golf and the three-row Atlas — has been stretched 10.6 inches with a 7.3-inch longer wheelbase giving it more cargo space, more legroom and even an optional third-row seat for the family that has three or four kids to haul around. The new Tiguan in fact is pushing into mid-sized territory.

In addition to its new pleasing size, VW has endowed the Tiguan with updated technology and most of the driver safety aids such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning that are found in virtually all of its competitors.

Unfortunately, with its new-found size comes new-found weight — 485 additional pounds in the front-wheel drive version — that cuts a bit into performance from a turbocharged 4-cylinder that hasn't been commensurately increased in size. That being said, we found that our front-drive test vehicle with a light two-passenger load effortlessly merged into fast-moving traffic, and at one point able to pass a 45-mph Sunday driver without drama on a two-lane road. All-in-all Tiguan's excellent driving dynamics combined with a comfortable suspension should please all.

The Tiguan carries on with a 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged four that has been reworked, lowering horsepower from 200 to 184 but increasing torque from 207 foot-pounds to 221 foot-pounds. The front-drive Tiguan has been measured from 0-to-60 in 8.2 seconds, about average for the segment, with a quarter mile time of 16.3 seconds at 86 mph. The power is directed through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage is not stellar, but adequate, measured at 22 mpg city, 27 highway and 24 combined on regular gas in front-wheel drive. Mileage suffers slightly with AWD measured at 21/27/23.

Inside, you will find black leatherette seats and soft black coverings for the dash and doors. In the center of the dash is VW’s new touchscreen. It’s easy to understand and can be controlled with voice and simple volume and tuning knobs. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto plus two USB ports up front ease connection and management of smart dev
ices. Our test car didn’t have it, but we would order our Tiguan with the 480-watt Fender audio system. Heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and rear air vents.

The Tiguan offers a suite of driver-assistance technology. Available f
eatures include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor; Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control; Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist); Park Distance Control; High Beam Control; and Overhead View Camera. Key features such as blind spot monitoring come standard on the lower cost SE trim.

As far as space is concerned there are only 12 cubic feet behind the third row, but fold it down and space expands to 37.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 65.7
cubic feet with all seats folded. In those models without the third-row option, space behind the second row is 37.6 cubic feet and increases to 73.5 cubic feet with all seats folded.

The Tiguan is offered in six trims — S, SE, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Pre
mium, and SEL Premium R-Line. Front-wheel drive is standard on S, SE, SEL, and SEL R-Line, with 4Motion with Active Control available. SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line models are equipped with standard 4Motion.

Pricing starts at $25,590 for the base S, but a much better deal is the SE starting at $27,745 including destination charge. 4Motion (all-wheel drive) raises the price to $29,045. Standard equipment on the SE includes VW's Car-Net App Connect, which controls select smartphone apps from the touchscreen and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; keyless entry and ignition; dual-zone climate control; simulated leather upholstery; heated front seats; and an 8-inch touchscreen with satellite radio.

The price rises through the trim levels topping out at $38,545 for the SEL Premium with 4Motion. Our SE test car carried a bottom line of $29,465 that included an optional panoramic sunroof.

For the 2019 model year, Tiguan models come with the People First Warranty, a six-year or 72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper warranty, the remainder of which can be transferred to a subsequent vehicle owner throughout its duration.

Base price: $25,590; as driven, $29,465
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 184 @ 4,400 rpm
Torque: 221 pound-feet @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3/2
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 185.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,721 pounds
Turning circle: 37.7 feet
Luggage capacity: 12 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 65.7 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 1,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.3 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 22 city, 27 highway, 24 combined
0-60: 8.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape

The Good
• Ample passenger and cargo space
• Comprehensive safety features
• Third-row seating

The Bad
• Performance below average

The Ugly
• Below average fuel economy