2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan - The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SUV/crossover drives much like a German sports sedan.


The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan has an odd "half tiger-half iguana" name decided on by an apparently intoxicated group of Germans. But never mind-because it's among Volkwagen's top vehicles.

The 2012 model has mildly revised front styling that will  be unnoticed by most. But that's no demerit because the solid Tiguan looked good to begin with when introduced for 2009 as Volkkswagen's first car-based crossover/SUVand is among the most refined models in its class.

Actually, the Tiguan is more of a crossover vehicle than an SUV, because it's built on a Volkswagen auto platform, not a truck frame..That helps it feel carlike, with quick, nicely weighted electro-mechanical power steering and a supple ride.

The Tiguan is fun to drive. Putting aside its extra height, which lets occupants sit higher than in a car, it almost drives like a good German sports sedan. Handling is nimble and assisted by stability and traction-control systems. A progressive-action brake pedal works with a brake-assist feature for quick, drama-free stops..

Doors have large, easily grasped outside handles and fairly deep inside storage pockets. Front seats are supportive for spirited motoring, and a driver faces white-on-black gauges that can be quickly read. Controls aren't difficult to use, and large outside mirrors assist rear visibility.

The interior is attractive, despite a lot of dashboard plastic, which at least doesn't look cheap. Front cupholders are nicely placed on the console, although they're set a little too low.

The front-seat area is roomy. Same goes for the rear seat. But the rear one has a stiff center section that makes it only comfortable for two.

At least the rear seat slides back to give tall occupants more legroom. And back windows roll all the way down. Grab handles are put above all doors, in the best German high-speed driving tradition.

The large cargo area has a low, wide opening with two interior hatch indents to help close it.

The Tiguan comes with front or all-wheel drive, but higher-line models are costly. List prices range from $22,840 to $37,780. I tested the near-top-line $35,930 SEL all-wheel-drive model.with a 60/40 split/folding/sliding rear seat

The Tiguarn comes in a variety of trim levels. Some include a sunroof, others a  navigation system and all-wheel drive-and so on.

However, even the base Tiguan is fairly well-equipped, with such items as an adjustable steering wheel, AN/FM/CD/MP3 player and keyless entry, along with power windows, mirrors and door locks--besides cruise and climate control.

All have plenty of safety equipment, including side-curtain air bags.       

Powering the Tiguan is a potent turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder.  The refined engine acts as if it's a larger V-6, providing good acceleration in town and on highways.

The Tiguan is fairly heavy at approximately 3,400-3,650 pounds so don't expect economy vehicle fuel economy. Still, the Tiguan's slick six-speed automatic transmission, which has an easily used manual-shift mode, helps it deliver an estimated 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on highways.

A six-speed manual gearbox also is offered. It makes the Tiguan more fun to drive, at least away from heavy traffic, but causes a drop of a few miles per gallon in fuel economy. The manual shifts well and works with a long-throw, but light-action, clutch.

The heavy hood is held open by a prop rod, instead of a more convenient-and less muscle-straining-hydraulic strut.

What we have here is a good combination of utility and driving enjoyment.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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