Volkswagen’s Not-So-Small Compact Crossover
The compact crossover has taken the automotive market by storm. Manufacturers have realized if they don’t have one in their line-up, they will be left behind. They also know that offering a compact crossover that stands out from the crowd is vital. So what Volkswagen has done with the 2018 Tiguan is to make it bigger than the other compact crossovers, so it almost slots in as a small midsize SUV.
Confusing? It can be, but certainly its size is only one of the reasons to consider buying a Tiguan. Clean Fleet Report drove the 2018 Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion and came away appreciating what Volkswagen has done that should impress consumers.
Turbo Power + AWD
Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to the 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system. The 4Motion system is engineered to eliminate wheel spin under almost all conditions and to automatically decouple the rear wheels when the driving load and conditions don’t require the additional traction, thusly saving fuel. But when necessary, in fractions of seconds, the 4Motion system engages the rear wheels for seamless and instant needed traction. More on this later.
EPA fuel economy is 21 city/27 highway/23 combined, numbers we feel are a bit low since Volkswagen can squeeze upper-30 miles per gallon from its four-cylinder engines. In real world use, in 288 miles of driving SoCal freeways, we averaged 28.1 mpg. However, over a 200-mile all-freeway run with the adaptive cruise control set at 65 mpg, we averaged a much more satisfying 31.1 mpg.
It is important to note that the fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific. They represent the reviewer’s driving experience, but should be similar to most drivers living in our reviewer’s cities. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion handled with a responsiveness that requires little driver exertion. As a matter of fact, it was easy to drive with the 235/50 all-season tires on 19-inch alloy wheels. Located next to the shift lever, the driver-selectable four drive modes offered options for the sure-footed 4Motion system, improving the handling even in normal and dry conditions. The crossover’s balance eliminated body roll or pitching from side-to-side during aggressive turns. When powering through hard corners, the four-wheel independent suspension of the Tiguan pulled tighter the sharper you turn the wheel. The power-assisted front vented and rear solid discs, with anti-lock brakes, stopped the car straight without brake fade. Electronic stability control is standard.
The front suspension is strut-type with coil springs, with multi-link and coil springs in the rear and anti-roll bars all-around. The rack-and-pinion electric power steering has been programmed to provide excellent road feel. Highway 70+ mph cruising was solid and confident.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The redesigned 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan has contemporary styling and is nearly devoid of chrome. This refreshing, clean and simple design, with a slim front grille and LED headlights, has a respectable 0.35 drag coefficient.
The strong but subtle body line—the line that runs along the side of the car from front to back, leads to the horizontal, notched tail lamps. The roof, with a power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof, has rails, the smallest-of-smallest antennas and an integrated spoiler over the power lift gate. Badging is at a minimum to not distract from the overall design.
Driving Experience: Interior
The Tiguan’s neat and tidy interior was also redesigned for 2018. Its clean fit and finish is nothing fancy, trendy or quirky but retains its German simplicity. The mix of soft and hard plastics were uncomplicated by fake woods or other design gimmicks. The white backlighting for the dash gauges added a premium element, which went along with the overall premium materials used throughout the interior. It was very thoughtful for Volkswagen to anticipate the Tiguan being used in ways that could get messy. The rubber Weathertech MuddyBuddy floor mats were great at keeping all the dirt and muck off the carpeted floors. They were very easy to remove, sweep and hose off. We always wonder why these mats are not in more cars we see here at Clean Fleet Report.
The Digital Cockpit information screen can be configured for up-to four different drivers, while the centerpiece of the infotainment system (information and entertainment) is the 8.0-inch color touchscreen. The nine-speaker Fender Premium audio system delivered deep, full crisp tones for the AM/FM/HD radio and CD player with MP3 playback. The SiriusXM, with a 90-day trial subscription, is part of VW’s Media Device Interface (MDI) with Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music, a SD card and two USB ports. Volkswagen’s VW CarNet connected car technology provides a seamless link for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls. VW does a nice job of making it easy to operate the radio and the dual zone climate control system with the turn of a few knobs.
Our 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion had first and second row leather-trimmed seats. The front seats are heated with the driver getting power adjustments and memory. The seats had good thigh bolstering with lumbar adjustable for the driver that, when combined with the height adjustable and telescoping steering column, made finding a comfortable driving position easy. Separating the front seats is a center console with cup holders and an ample storage area. The leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and gear shift lever are nice upgrades.
The third row seat is covered in Leatherette, a fabric technology that is comfortable to the touch, provides good air circulation and is durable. Access to the third row is a little tight, but not bad. The head, leg, elbow and shoulder room can accommodate two adult passengers for shorter trips, but when this seat is in the upright position storage space is limited. The third row will be used occasionally, if at all.
The second row has excellent space for two adults, three in a pinch. The ability for the second row seat to slide offers great flexibility to increase leg room. HVAC vents, cupholders and reading lights make the rear seat an overall welcoming place to hang out. When the second row 40/20/40 split seat back is lowered, storage capacity increases to 73.5 cu. ft. And this storage space is very usable, as the roof is nearly flat and the lift gate is not raked at a severe angle. For even more storage, the Tiguan comes with roof rack rails.
Interior conveniences, standard or optional, include power windows, remote engine start with keyless access, heated multi-function steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, cruise control, power adjustable and manual folding heated exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, multiple power ports and front and rear reading lights.
Safety and Convenience
Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan came with eight airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system and an Intelligent Crash Response System. Standard or available safety features include a rear view camera, a blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. If you have never driven a car with these last two safety features, have your Volkswagen sales representative demonstrate them to you on the highway. Once you have used them, you will feel naked when driving a car that is not similarly equipped.
Pricing and Warranties
Clean Fleet Report’s 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion had a MSRP of $37,550. Add $900 for the destination charge.
The 2018 Tiguan comes with these warranties:
- New Vehicle Six years/72,000 miles
- Powertrain Six years/72,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation Seven years/100,000 miles
- 24 Hour Roadside Assistance Three years/36,000 miles
Observations: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion
You won’t be disappointed owning the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan if you are looking for a compact crossover that is roomy, has a quiet ride and is fully-equipped with a nicely appointed interior. Add-in the inviting entry price of $24,595 (S model with front-wheel drive) and what is the most flexible and one of the longest warranties in its class.
Clean Fleet Report did not have the opportunity to take the Tiguan off-road to test the 4Motion all-when drive system. We have though done this on other Volkswagen models and can report that it offers exceptional grip. But you don’t need to go off roading to get the advantage of the sure-footed handling of the Tiguan. The confidence is high when entering high-speed corners or being passed by an 18-wheeler at freeway speeds.
Go to your local Volkswagen dealer and take an extra-long test drive. You may feel the 2018 Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion suits your commuting and around-town family needs, along with your adventurous side trekking through the back country.
Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.