VW Tiguan — A solid crossover choice

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(April 12, 2020) The Volkswagen Tiguan, which started life in 2009 as a compact crossover, was well received by the critics as a solid value, but it never resonated with buyers in North America because of its small cargo and passenger space compared to competing vehicles in the segment.

Volkswagen rectified the situation for the 2018 model year putting the Tiguan on the same platform as the Golf and three-row Atlas crossover stretching it 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. The new Tiguan in fact pushes into mid-sized territory.

So the question is — did it make a difference? The answer comes in rather startling sales statistics. The Tiguan sold 46,983 copies in 2017, the last year on the shorter platform, and jumped to nearly 110,000 in 2019, a 134 percent gain.

In its third year of its new iteration things remain mostly the same. But there are some upgrades for 2020. The Tiguan adds a Wi-Fi hotspot, which is now standard, and adds some worthwhile safety equipment as standard across the lineup including forward-collision alert with automatic braking, and a blindspot warning system. And Volkswagen's Car-Net communication system comes standard this year. The new SE R-Line Black trim level gets 20-inch dark wheels, a sunroof, fog lights and parking-alert sensors as standard equipment.

The Tiguan comes with only one powertrain, the carryover 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, 29 highway and 25 combined on regular gas in front-wheel drive. Mileage suffers slightly with AWD at 20/27/23.

Unfortunately, with the new-found size of the current generation comes new-found weight  over the first generation — 485 additional pounds in the front-wheel drive version — that cuts a bit into performance from an engine 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.

Inside, at 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 devices. If you like a really good sound system 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.

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.  

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. Three rows of seat
ing come standard with front-wheel-drive models, and two rows are standard on all-wheel-drive models, with a third row available as an option.

The Tiguan is offered in five trims — S, SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL 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. AWD can be added to the other trim levels for $1,300.

Standard features for the Tiguan S for a base price of $25,945 including $1,020 destination charge include 17-inch wheels, roof rails, heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, USB port, a six-speaker sound system and VW's Car-Net App Connect, which controls select smartphone apps from the touchscreen. The SE we drove with one option — a $1,200 panoramic sunroof — had a bottom line of

The price rises through the trim levels topping out at a whopping $39,815 for the SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion that we also drove. That cash outlay will bring such goodies as adaptive LED headlights, automatic wipers, a hands-free liftgate, a digital gauge cluster, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, the nine-speaker premium Fender sound system, and extra driver assistance features including a surround-view parking camera system, lane departure warning and intervention, and automatic high-beam control.

Note that the Volkswagen People First Warranty of six-years/72,000 miles has been reduced for 2020 to four years/50,000 miles. To help offset the reduced coverage, all 2020 Volkswagens offer two years of regularly scheduled maintenance included at no charge.

2020 VW Tiguan


Base price: 25,945; as driven, $29,315
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, 29  highway, 25 combined
0-60: 8.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Santa Fe

The Good
• Considerable standard safety
• One few in segment with third row
• Ample second-row room

The Bad
• Top trim can reach 40 grand

The Ugly
• Only one engine option