Volkswagen Tiguan — Family transportation from Germany

By Jim Meachen

(July 9, 2023) The spacious near-midsize Volkswagen Tiguan has an European flair with an engaging driving demeanor, rewarding handling, and conservative, but attractive styling inside and out. The dashboard design might seem rather austere compared to some of its Japanese and Korean competition, but Volkswagen has taken it up a notch with the '23 Tiguan and it comes off very pleasingly especially with the compelling10-inch digital gauge cluster.

Add to that a spaciousness not offered in all crossover SUVs this size with outstanding rear-seat leg and head room for second-row passengers, and 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats. The Tiguan comes with a third row in front drive configuration, which might come in handy for families with small children, but it will cut cargo space to just 12 cubic feet with all seats in place. All-wheel drive models come with two rows, although a third-row can be ordered.

The Tiguan, which was totally updated in 2018 growing 10.6 inches in length with a 7.3-inch longer wheelbase than the original 2009 Tiguan, got a refresh in 2022 with new LED headlamps, revised grille and bumpers, and new wheel designs. The upgrades gave the crossover a more modern appearance. The cabin also received updates with new steering wheel touch sensitive controls. Heated seats and a digital gauge cluster are now standard across the lineup.

In 2022, all models also received as standard equipment a new touch-sensitive climate control panel, adaptive cruise control, and a semi-autonomous driving mode that VW calls Travel Assist.

The Tiguan sees very few changes for 2023 — The SE R-Line Black trim gets a new 19-inch wheel design, and USB-C ports have been upgraded for 45W charging. If you are willing to wait another year, an all-new Tiguan is expected for the 2025 model year with a fully revamped interior and a new exterior design. It's rumored that the new Tiguan will offer a plug-in hybrid version with 62 miles of all-electric driving.

What hasn't changed in the Tiguan since its 2018 makeover is the engine, which we found adequate with a rather sprightly feel in around-town driving. It can be a bit lacking, however, when merging with fast-moving Interstate traffic. Volkswagen has used its 184-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for years, and we have no objections to the driving experience with smooth shifts from its 8-speed automatic. Unlike some 4-cylinder powerplants, the VW engine has a refined (should we say German-like) sound under hard acceleration. For comparison purposes, the Tiguan can accomplish 0-to-60 runs in around 9 seconds.

All-in-all the Tiguan's excellent driving dynamics combined with a comfortable suspension —perhaps tuned a bit to the stiff side — should please most people. And gas mileage, although not stellar, is adequate, measured at 20 mpg city, 28 highway and 24 combined on regular gas with AWD. Mileage improves to 23/31/27 in front-wheel drive.

The room for hauling cargo rather than small children came in handy during our test week when we packed it with household items for a close relative who was moving cross-town. The cargo area with all seatbacks folded into a flat floor measures 65.7 cubic feet, making us happy that the Tiguan was in our driveway.

Inside, the touchscreen is easy to understand and can be controlled with voice and simple volume and tuning knobs. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto plus two USB-C ports up front ease connection and management of smart devices. If you like excellent sound in your car, the 480-watt Fender audio option is worth the money. Heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and rear air vents are easy to control. Our top-line SEL R-Line also had cooled seats.

The Tiguan offers a suite of driver-assistance technology. Available features 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.  

The Tiguan comes in four trim levels — S, SE, SE R-Line Black and SEL R-Line. Front-drive is standard on the S, SE and SE R-Line Black as is a third-row seat. The SEL R-Line includes standard all-wheel drive and eliminates the third-row. AWD can be added to any trim level.

The Tiguan starts are $27,885 for the S and climbs through the trim levels to the SEL R-Line at $37,680. We recommend avoiding the base car in favor of the SE, which starts at $31,515, because it adds considerable equipment including dual-zone climate control, remote engine start, a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable driver's seat, an upgraded infotainment system, wireless smartphone charging, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Our top-line test vehicle carried a bottom line of $37,680 — no options and none needed.

Ted Biederman contributed to this review

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan


Base price: $27,885; as driven, $37,680
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 184 @ 4,499 rpm
Torque: 221 pound-feet @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 185.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,821 pounds
Turning circle: 37.7 feet
Luggage capacity: 37.6 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 73.4 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 1,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined
0-60: 9 seconds (observed)
Also consider: Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-50, Hyundai Tucson

The Good
• Quiet cabin
• Roomy interior
• Abundant standard safety tech
• Third row available

The Bad
• Some controls can be distracting

The Ugly
• Only one engine option