2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan - GTI-like fun.


From the company that brought us a Euro-mouthful with the Touareg name, there is now much to be excited and perturbed about the new Volkswagen Tiguan. Perturbed may be strong, but yet another name that doesn't quite roll off the tongue. The great part is the Tiguan itself - it is an outstanding, fun-to-drive compact sport-ute with plenty of power and lots of passion to make it memorable.

Volkswagen has finally thrown its hat in the (compact crossover) ring with its all-new 2009 Tiguan. While the name is unusual, the vehicle will feel very familiar to VW aficionados.

In fact, VW refers to Tiguan as the GTI of compact sport utility vehicles. Unlike the GTI, though, the Tiguan can't be had with a DSG transmission. But Tiguan is based on VW's small-car platform and features the same lively 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in other products, making it surprisingly peppy and fun to drive.

Tiguan is by far one of the better-looking vehicles in this segment. I like Tiguan's distinctive Euro-design characteristics that ooze a higher level of sophistication. Tiguan also shares a similar face and silhouette with its larger stable mate, the Touareg 2.

Slip inside the Tiguan and you'll find a comfortable cabin with likable features. Like other VW products, Tiguan's manual front seats feature a lever similar to the one on a barber's chair to raise or lower the cushion. I like that. I also like that the Tiguan provides more than enough leg room for my long-legged body.Tiguan is one of only few vehicles that have so much front leg room that I actually ride with the seat up a bit from the rear most position.

That means more leg room for rear passengers, too. Plus, the reclining rear seats also provide six-inches of fore and aft travel to allow for additional leg room or cargo space depending on your needs.

I also enjoyed the large center console and nifty little switch to electronically apply the parking brake. The switch takes up much less space than one of those bulky levers.

Tiguan also features an available state-of-the-art navigation system, combining a sophisticated radio with touch screen controls and easy to view maps through its 6.5-inch high-resolution wide-screen display. The system also includes a 30GB hard drive to store map data and audio files that can be downloaded via the optical drive or SD card slot. The system can interface with an iPod or USB device, too.

Tiguan buyers also can opt for the available panoramic sunroof enabling almost 13 square feet of sunshine. Starting price for the Tiguan is $23,200. However, a fully optioned unit is pricey and tips the scale at around $35k.

Tiguan is offered in three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL. All models feature the peppy turbo-four 2.0-liter engine. The base S comes as a front-drive model with either a 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual control.

Step up to the SE or SEL and the automatic transmission is standard, while the manual is unavailable. Also, both the SE and SEL can be ordered with VW's patented 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

The base Tiguan S comes well-equipped with features like keyless entry, central locking, power windows, air conditioning with pollen and odor filter, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock, engine braking assist, electronic brake pressure distribution, electronic stabilization program with brake assist, and a long list of safety features.

My tester was a base unit with the manual transmission. But my tester hardly felt like a typical base model. Clutch pedal feel and the 6-speed manual in my tester were very likable. The vehicle accelerates nicely. The shifts are precise. The level of road and engine noise is minimal.

My only complaint is that the fuel economy (19 city/26 highway) in my base S tester wasn't as good as I expected. Aside from that, the ride is comfortable and the vehicle feels very stable at highway speeds. If you're in the market for a compact crossover, make sure to drive the Tiguan.

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan S

2.0-liter (200 hp) turbocharged I-4

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive type: FWD

Fuel economy: 19 city/26 highway

Base price:

As tested:
$24,240 (including $690 for destination)

Web site: www.vw.com