The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover that was first introduced in 2009. Tiguan seats five passengers and comes with front- or all-wheel drive, called 4Motion. Competitors are many and include Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4. Changes for 2017 include a trim level shuffle and the inclusion of a 6-3-inch touch screen display with integrated VW Car-Net apps on all models.
Gone are the SE and R-Line. Returning trims include the base S and top-line SEL. Stuck in the middle are new are the Wolfsburg and Sport trims. All get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that mates to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard with the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system being a $2000 option across the board.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, rear-view camera and dual-front, front-side and curtain-side airbags. Accident-warning and accident-avoidance systems like blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning are not offered.
Prices start at $24,995 for the front-drive S and climb to $36,475 for the 4Motion SEL. All trims have an $865 destination charge and are assembled in Germany. This is the last year for the current design, in 2018, VW will introduce and all-new Tiguan with similar styling.
Tiguan's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine provides brisk acceleration and adequate passing response -- provided you aren't hauling around four passengers or 500 pounds of cargo. At throttle tip in, the engine feels a bit sleepy. Thankfully, power builds quickly and comes on strong enough to propel Tiguan from 0 to 6-0 mph in about 7.5 seconds. The six-speed automatic isn't as smooth shifting in stop-and-go traffic as those in competitors.
The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for extreme off-road use. Still, it does an excellent job of apportioning power to the wheels with the most traction on slippery roads. For most Chicagoans, front-drive with all-season tires is all that's required to conquer winter driving in the Windy City, but the all-wheel drive does provide an added measure of security.
EPA estimates of 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the 4Motion models falls on the low end of the compact crossover spectrum. Routine suburban commuters should expect to see about 23 mpg overall. Throw in a good mix of gentle highway cruising and it's easy to top 26 mpg overall.
Tiguan's tall build and relatively short wheelbase contribute to a tippy feeling in quick changes of direction. On the plus side, they provide impressive agility in confined urban driving. For the most part, the suspension does a good job of softening impacts and reducing unwanted secondary motions. Those wanting a slightly more athletic demeanor can opt for the Sport, which comes with slightly firmer suspension settings and larger wheels and tires.
Interior noise levels are reasonable low - especially at highway speeds. There's very little wind noise and only modest tire roar on rough concrete freeways. Around town, engine noise does not intrude.
Black dominates Tiguan's interior, though there are a few tasteful bits of chrome and aluminum thrown in to brighten the mood. Materials are upscale and fit-and-finish are top notch. Kudos to VW for making the large touch-screen display standard. Even though Volkswagen's smartphone app suite is included, Android Auto and Apple Car Play are also supported. Gauges and controls are straightforward and don't require a trip through the owner's manual to decipher.
Front seats are firm and stiffly bolstered. Head and leg room are above average for the class, making Tiguan a great choice for taller drivers. Rear-seat passengers get plenty of head room but only modest knee and foot space. Thankfully, the rear seatbacks not only fold, but they recline as well. With a tall build, large door openings and modest step-in height, entry-exit is a snap. Outward visibility is excellent as well.
Cargo space comes in at a modest 24 cubic feet with the rear seats in use. That's near the bottom of the class. Even putting the rear seatbacks down, capacity only grows to 56 cubic feet. That's less space than some subcompact crossovers. Interior storage is just adequate as well, with a few open bins in the center console.
Tiguan offers a Teutonic take on the compact crossover. Its no-nonsense approach is refreshing in a day when manufacturers try to court every customer with a dizzying array of trims and engine offerings. Lack of safety features and substandard fuel economy are the main shortcomings -- both likely to be addressed in the 2018 redesign. Still, there's a lot to like in the honesty of the current Tiguan.