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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Don Adair: The Affordable VW Tiguan


Volkswagen just made it easier to own a Tiguan.

Already the most affordable German-built car sold in the U.S., the base price of the compact crossover drops $1,400 this year. Its standard features list grows and its infotainment system adds functionality.

Even the entry-level Tiguan S ($25,755, including destination) gains keyless entry and ignition, rain-sensing windshield wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The latest edition of VW’s touchscreen infotainment system climbs aboard, as does Bluetooth, a USB-multimedia interface with iPhone and iPod compatibility and new AUX-in and SD-card capabilities.

Big deal, skeptics counter; all that (and often more) is standard fare on less pricey Tiguan rivals.

VW loyalists see that as an apples-to-oranges comparison. In their world, bells and whistles take a back seat to more ineffable qualities: The driving experience; the cabin’s understated, premium appeal; the delight of owning a vehicle whose best attributes are baked in, not added on.

And, with a next-gen, clean-sheet Tiguan due next year, VW wanted to sweeten the pot while holding the fort.
VW also restructures the Tiguan lineup, moving the sporty R-Line trim from its perch near the top of the hierarchy to a lower spot. Though it loses some key features (leather seats, bi-xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof), the R-Line package still includes foglights; an expanded range of driver-seat adjustments, including power lumbar; a power-reclining front passenger seat; a 6.3-inch touchscreen; a sport-tuned suspension, R-Line style cues, a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel with paddle shifters; and 19-inch alloys.

R-Line pricing drops from last year’s $38,515 to a more affordable $29,565, where it’s positioned just below the mid-range SE ($32,255). 

All Tiguans are powered by a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, with AWD a $1,900 option on all trims. The little VW is one of the quickest compact crossovers, running the 0-60 sprint in 7.5 seconds, and can tow up to 2,200 pounds.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg combined for FWD and AWD configurations. City and highway mileage diverge slightly, with FWD trims registering 21/26 and AWD at 20/26.

With its tidy dimensions — its wheelbase measures just 102.5 inches — and quick pick-up, the Tiguan is nimble in traffic and easy to manage in tight parking lots. Out on the open road, it has the secure and settled poise of a larger vehicle. 

Ride quality is very good, with the smooth-yet-firmly-damped deportment typical of German cars.

Owners who enjoy that tall-in-the-saddle feeling will appreciate the upright and higher-than-average driving position. Headroom is excellent at all positions, though tall rear-seat passengers may wish for more legroom.

Materials quality is very good and switch gear feels fluid and substantial. The touchscreen and infotainment systems feel dated in light of class standards. 

Perhaps the biggest knock on the Tiguan is its none-too-generous cargo hold. A few extra cubic feet behind the second-row seats would go a long way toward easing owner’s lives.

So America’s least expensive German-built car just got a little less expensive; how could that be anything but good?

Contact Don at, or visit

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion
Vehicle base price: $24,890
Trim level base price: $33,365
As tested: $35,050
Options included trailer hitch; tow & ball mount; 7-pin adaptor plug
EPA ratings: 23 combined/20 city/26 highway
Premium unleaded fuel recommended



Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.