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


U.S. buyers warm to VW’s all-new Tiguan compact crossover

Last summer, Volkswagen launched an all-new 2018 Tiguan, then sat back and watched the compact crossover soar to the top of the company sales charts.

The new Tiguan represents a recalibration for VW. While the previous model pleased enthusiasts (and auto writers) with its engaging dynamics, it left many buyers wanting more.

More room, more utility, more efficiency.

More transporting American families comfortably, Less aggression on country two-lanes.

A strong second act

For its second act, VW planted the Tiguan on a lightweight new platform and grew it by 10.6 inches. The new footprint increases passenger and cargo space dramatically — and makes room for a third row of seats.

This larger (and heavier )Tiguan is slightly more efficient, EPA-wise, and runs happily on regular unleaded fuel. The first-gen model needed premium.

In addition to smoothing off Tiguan’s taut Teutonic edges, VW’s quest to win American buyers meant dialing up the significant extras — the infotainment and connectivity offerings and driver-assist features — that in the past had been notably lacking.

Attention to detail

Bottom line, VW knew it needed to deliver more rig for the money. So the new, improved Tiguan rolls out at a value-oriented $24,595. Last year’s model started at $25,86.

The new Tiguan is a handsome piece — squared-off and muscular on the outside and crisp and well-organized inside — and VW’s attention to detail shows itself in first-rate build quality and cabin fit-and-finish. A handful of hard plastic surfaces hint at budget constraints. 

Front-seat occupants ride on contoured, supportive and widely adjustable front seats. Second-row passengers get the biggest bang from Tiguan’s new dimensions, with abundant leg and headroom for even tall passengers. The contoured 40/20/40-split second-row bench slides 7 inches fore and aft and the seatbacks recline.

The 50/50-split third row is best left for the kids, although a pair of compatible — and, ideally, short-legged — adults will survive it in short spurts.

Due to the vagaries of U.S. light-truck standards, the third row is standard (and not deletable) on FWD Tiguans and a $500 option on AWD models. 

Extensive infotainment options

Standard equipment includes halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, foglights with cornering illumination, heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn-signal indicators and a rearview camera. Wheels are 17-inch alloys. 

HVAC and audio controls incorporate a user-friendly mix of touchscreen (6.5 inches on the base S trim, 8.0-inches on all others) and hard buttons. 

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink are standard across the line and provide navigation and related services on lower trims. Native navigation is standard on the top SEL ($31,090) and SEL Premium ($36,250) trims. 

A raft of free and subscription-based smartphone and smartwatch apps deliver such features as remote management of select vehicle functions (window position, door locks, etc); car location and diagnostic services; and emergency connectivity.

Lacks punch at passing speeds

All Tiguans are powered by a 184-horsepower turbocharged four paired with an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite initial turbo lag, the Tiguan runs the 0-60 sprint in a just-acceptable 8.6 seconds but lacks punch at passing speeds.

The base S trim is equipped with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Higher up the food chain, a full suite of driver-assist features comes aboard, either as standard equipment or as parts of options packages. 

Underway, the Tiguan is quiet and comfortable. Its heft is apparent in a solid, stable feel at speed. The over-boosted electrically assisted steering system provides little feel or feedback but the Tiguan tracks straight and true.

Not as comfortable as its predecessor with quick corners, it exhibits considerable body lean when pushed. 

VW’s highly customizable 4Motion AWD system ($1,300) employs a network of sensors to predict traction loss and apportion torque front-to-rear accordingly. A pair of electronic differentials split torque between the rear wheels.

With its sophisticated software calibrations, short front and rear overhangs and elevated ride height, the Tiguan is more capable off-road than most crossovers.

At the moment, a pair of new crossovers, the Tiguan and the full-size Atlas, drive VW’s U.S. sales. With ground to make up here, their success is welcome news back home in Wolfsburg.

Contact Don at

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE w/4Motion
Vehicle base price: $24,595
Trim level base price: $30,230
As tested: $31,130 (includes destination and handling)
Options: Our SE tester included no additional options
Tow rating: 1500 pounds
EPA rating: 23 combined/21 city/27 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified

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