No, not all crossovers are created equal. Some are more car than truck, and most are essentially more wagon than anything else. And then there’s the Tiguan which Volkswagen has taken great pains in trying to guarantee that it is more than just a miniature version of the Touraeg. Here are the results.
Unlike the huge swaths of criticism leveled daily against the auto industry, Volkswagen has navigated the current climate by performing a balancing act in their model offerings. For every performance-based or upscale model, an equally fuel efficient and thrifty vehicle is also available. Case in point is the Tiguan, which attempts to compress the rugged (and thirsty) performance of the Touraeg into a diminutive and inexpensive package while maintaining a high level of quality.
Powertrain and Performance
An advantage VW has is it’s sibling (or more accurately, parental) relationship with Audi. The byproduct is that the Tiguan makes use of the same turbo-charged, 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower inline four cylinder that is used in the Audi TT. That a bad place to start. This engine also produces 206 ft.-lb. of torque which lends itself well to those that may attempt to put the Tiguan under moderate towing duties of up to 2,200 lbs. In comparison to similar competition the Tiguan performs admirably in reaching 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds, though VW only claims a more modest 7.8 second sprint with the manual version. You’d have to opt for a six cylinder Toyota RAV4 to best that time. But speed should not be of major concern in this segment anyway. While the base model S comes with either a six-speed stick shift or automatic transmission, the SE and SEL Tiguan are only available with the automatic albeit with a manual function built in. An AWD version may ultimately make it’s way to North America. Nevertheless, the Tiguan feels solid and sufficiently tough in rougher conditions and can manage being thrown into corners without significant body roll. In many reviews, braking prowess also seems to be a real advantage the Tiguan has over its rivals.
One chink in the Tiguan’s armor is with fuel economy, which fall short of similar models from nearly all other makers. With an automatic transmission, the Tiguan achieves an average 21 miles per gallon (18 in the city, 24 on the highway). In comparison the four-cylinder Honda CR-V produces 20/27 mpg, the Ford Escape 20/28 mpg, the Nissan Rogue 21/26 mpg, and even the six-cylinder Toyota RAV 4 gets 19/27 mpg. This fact stings further when you consider that premium gasoline is recommended in the Tiguan. Probable good new is that a Bluetec diesel should be on tap in the near future, which undoubtedly will put these numbers to shame.
Outwardly, the Tiguan in some estimations is even more attractive than the big brother Touraeg in which it unashamedly borrows its DNA from. The Tiguan claims seating for five, though putting three large adults in the rear seats would be difficult for any length of time. This highlights the most prominent downside: space. Most significantly, trunk space which is very limited and presumably a major consideration for many who are looking to downsize to the Tiguan from a larger SUV. To its credit, the VW’s flexible interior design helps offset its diminutive size. The rear seats fold down and are adjustable in two sections, and move forward and back with about six inches of travel. That plus the tilting and telescoping steering wheel make it easy to adjust the front and rear seats to accommodate larger passengers. Measuring 174.3 inches long, 71.2 inches wide, and 66.3 inches tall, the Tiguan is smaller overall than a Honda CR-V, which spans 178.0 x 71.6 x 66.1. But looks can be deceiving. The Tiguan, with a 102.5-inch wheelbase (the CR-V’s is 103.1 in), is still quite roomy inside-6-plus footers get plenty of headroom and legroom whether up front or in back-boasting a 60/40-split back seat that slides forward and reclines, not only increasing comfort for passengers but also making the 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space expandable.
Although durability and quality have nagged VW’s reputation longer than it should, like all newer V-Dubs the Tiguan features a high-quality plastic materials and tight tolerances. The Tiguan has an upscale cabin, tasteful, understated styling, and well laid-out controls that while conservative does not convey cheap. The optional panoramic sunroof extends over the entire seating area of the cabin, giving the car an airy, open feel. There are numerous useful storage areas, including cup holders molded into the doors, and storage areas for smaller items like credit cards and coins on the dash. One downer is the CD changer in the center console between the driver and passenger, limiting storage space there.Available options will include the aforementioned panoramic moonroof, 17- and 18-inch wheels, an eight-speaker 300-watt Dynaudio sound system, Park Assist (which automatically guides the vehicle into a parking space), and a new Siemens RNS 510 radio/navigation system, which includes a 6.5-inch touch screen, a 30GB hard drive, and off-road navigation that allows up to 500 route points to be recorded during a journey. Safety is a plus with the Tiguan which has earned excellent crash-test ratings and is a Top Safety Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard equipment includes stability and traction control and six airbags, with rear side airbags available as an option.
The entry-levelTiguan S lists at $23,250 with a manual but quickly climbs to $26,925 for a mid-range SE and to $30,990 for the top trimmed SEL. VW is offering some nice rebates to help offset these costs which on average are nearly 4 grand more than its main competition. However, if you compare the Tiguan with the higher trim levels and options to more upscale vehicles, which it does stand up to reasonably well, it comes off as a bargain. No it isn’t a BMW, but let’s be honest, it still LOOKS better than the hideous X3 which costs loads more. For now, the Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V still hold the edge due to efficiency and utility, but the Tiguan certainly offers a more spirited driving experience and is definitely worth a test drive