A Value-Priced Compact SUV Designed for the American Market
Volkswagen has learned that to be successful with US buyers, giving them what they want is a winning proposition, and what American buyers want are compact SUVs that are both big and tall. The new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is the VW Atlas’s grown-up little brother, based on the same MQB architecture that gives us the Golf, Alltrack and Atlas.
The 2018 Tiguan is bigger in just about every dimension compared to the 2017 model, except for pricing, which starts at a very affordable $24,595, including destination charges. The Tiguan we tested was the top of the line SEL Premium version with 4Motion AWD and three-row seating. It came in at $37,550.
Regardless of the trim level, the new Tiguan is bigger than its rivals, such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue.
As with the Tiguan’s XL big brother, the Atlas, packaging is everything. The U.S. version of the Tiguan is a long-wheelbase model, which is almost a foot longer than the outgoing version for seven-passenger seating. While the third row is primarily a kids-zone, adults can fit back there if need be. The middle row seats recline, slide fore and aft and include air vents and USB ports. FWD models are only available with seven-passenger seating, but with AWD models the third row is a $500 option.
The Power & Underneath
The Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder power plant, which is a detuned version of the 2.0-liter EA888 engine found in the GTI, the Tiguan has 184 horsepower and 221 pounds-feet of torque on tap. With the FWD Tiguan coming in at 3,777 pounds and the 4motion version at 3,858 pounds. The Tiguan’s acceleration is leisurely and sluggish at best. The good news is that this engine is a VW tuner’s favorite engine with a vast number of aftermarket parts to increase both horsepower and torque. EPA mileage ratings are middle of the pack at 22 city/27 highway/24 combined for FWD and 21/27/23 for 4Motion. Our test Tiguan returned 25 mpg in mixed driving.
A single choice of transmission, an eight-speed automatic, is offered. Delivering power to the road, VW’s optional 4Motion AWD system uses electronic controls to provide power to whichever wheels have the most traction in a variety of terrains via a center differential. On regular road conditions, the differential disconnects the rear drive for maximum fuel economy. The stability system can control individual wheels, which can be locked to prevent slipping while power is transferred seamlessly to the wheels on the opposite side. Up to 50 percent of the drive torque can be transferred to the rear wheels. Hill descent control, an “Off-Road Mode,” and increased ground clearance provide exceptional performance on a variety of terrains. The Tiguan borrows VW’s XDS+ cross differential system from the GTI, and Golf R. XDS+ is an electronic version of a mechanical limited slip differential for all four wheels for maximum traction.
Despite the Tiguan’s MQB underpinnings that are the basis of the GTI, the Tiguan’s increased size and weight combined with VW’s emphasis on a quiet and smooth ride has made the Tiguan a comfortable boulevard cruiser. Overall, the steering is over-boosted, the suspension soft and the brake feel somewhat mushy. But the Tiguan tracks down the freeway with a quiet and plush ride, just the qualities that will appeal to those looking for a family-oriented vehicle.
Safety & Options
The Tiguan’s standard active and passive safety features line up with the rest of VW’s product line. The Tiguan has no less than six airbags and electronic stability control. Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System help reduce the kinetic energy that is present after an initial collision and reduces the chance of additional damage. Post-collision, the system shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and switches on the hazard lights.
Depending on the trim level, the Tiguan also has the full suite of Volkswagen driver assistance systems either as standard or available as a package. These include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, lane assist with departure warning, and rear traffic alert, and Park Pilot. During our test in our SEL Premium-trim Tiguan, all of these systems worked flawlessly and were unobtrusive except when needed.
The most significant addition for 2018 is that the Tiguan has adopted the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit as standard in all but the base S trim. The all-digital display is 8.0 inches and is gorgeous to look at with a full suite of driving, multimedia, communications and navigation data. The center display gets an upgrade as well with VW’s MIB-II infotainment system. An 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen is super responsive and has all the bells and whistles one would expect, with VW Car-Net, Bluetooth, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice control, and predictive navigation.
With the variety of levels of trim and affordability available, there is a Tiguan for every need and pocketbook. The Tiguan will be a very competitive vehicle for Volkswagen, and it should be at the top of the list for anyone considering a three-row compact SUV.
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