Volkswagen has significantly overhauled the second generation Tiguan for 2018, creating a small crossover SUV engineered to meet the wants and needs of American customers. Tiguan for 2017 was fun to drive, but fell short in several areas such as cargo space, fuel economy, lack of common driver safety aids, and its premium price.
Tiguan now is 10.6-inches longer, with more interior space and up to 58 percent more cargo space in two-row models, along with flexible seating, high-tech infotainment and available driver-assistance features. The extra length allows for a third-row seat — standard on some models, optional on others – which will seat two children or small adults, and more legroom overall.
Traditional strengths carry over, such as the quiet, comfortable ride, top-notch interior materials, and a user-friendly tech interface, which is now even easier and quicker, all without demanding a premium price.
Four trim levels are offered: S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium, priced from $25,345 to $36,250. All models include an updated turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission with standard front-wheel drive. 4Motion full-time all-wheel drive with Active Control features four modes for all kinds of terrain and adds $1,300 to the base price.
The updated engine is engineered to be more efficient in everyday driving, with a combustion cycle unique to Volkswagen. The Budack cycle closes the intake valves earlier for a longer effective combustion chamber and faster airflow for incoming gases to improve the mix of fuel and air, effectively lowering fuel consumption.
Start/Stop technology is standard and also helps improve fuel efficiency by stopping the engine during idle, and restarting when the brake is released. Front-wheel drive models should achieve 22 mpg city/27 highway/24 combined, while all-wheel drive should achieve 21/27/23.
The all-new Tiguan sports a new muscular shape and style with sharper character lines, and a wider, lower stance. A chrome exterior package highlights the three-bar grille with large “VW” badge, outlines the side window openings, trims the lower door cladding and rear bumper, and finishes with a “VW” tailgate badge and dual trapezoidal chrome exhaust outlets.
Tiguan’s front bumper adds a rugged detail, tucked under to emphasize the off-road character of the vehicle with a 26-degree approach angle. The hood, fenders, and wheel arches are sharply creased, and deep character lines flow from front to rear; under the windows from the headlight to the rear side window, from the front fender, around the door handles to the taillight, and along the lower edge of the doors above the cladding.
Automatic halogen headlights have a Coming/Leaving Home feature, which leaves the headlights, mirror lights, taillights and plate lights on for a short period to light the path on arrival, and turns the same lights on when the driver unlocks the doors with the remote upon leaving. Halogen reflector-lens fog lights have a low-speed corner-illuminating feature, helpful for turns on country roads or pulling into a driveway. LED taillights and daytime running lights finish exterior lighting.
Roof rails are standard, with Base Carrier Bars available ($365) for attaching accessories to carry bikes, kayaks, skis, etc. A new Urban Loader ($699) adds more cargo space, with easy opening from either side. A lower lift-in height makes Tiguan easier to load. A trailer hitch receiver is standard, and with an available towing hitch, Tiguan is capable of towing up to 1,500 pounds.
My Tiguan was an SE ($28,930) in Platinum Gray Metallic with Storm Gray leatherette interior, a very attractive combination, with 17-inch 10-spoke silver-painted “Montana” alloy wheels – the spokes resembled folded straight razors – and gray lower body cladding and rear bumper.
Eight exterior colors are available, including Dark Moss Green Metallic, Silk Blue Metallic, and Habanera Orange Metallic for $295. Two interiors are offered in addition to Storm Gray – Titan Black and Golden Oak/Black, a very interesting combination, all depending on exterior color chosen.
A Panoramic Sunroof Package ($1,200) let the outside in with a tilt-and-slide panel in the front and fixed panel in the rear. An electrically-operated sunshade covered both panels, and the front panel had pinch protection. Ambient lighting around the edges added an interesting touch at night.
The interior was classy, modern, and well built, with a driver-focused layout featuring gloss-gray and chrome details on the doors, dash, center stack and console. A multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel trimmed in gloss black is now standard.
Center stack controls for climate were simple and easy use, as were controls for audio, apps, and phone on the edges of the eight-inch glass-covered touch screen. The display is brighter than the previous generation, with better color reproduction, response time, and improved viewing angles, thanks to In-plane Switching technology (hard to explain, improves color and viewing angle for LCDs).
My Tiguan had a Composition Media system with AM/FM/HD radio and CD (in the glovebox) with dual USB inputs and auxiliary under the center stack (a rubber-lined storage bin, with a 12-volt outlet), voice control, six-speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, support for lossless audio file format (Free Lossless Audio Codec FLAC), and SiriusXM satellite radio (limited time trial). The system had the ability to send and receive SMS text messages with the Bluetooth technology via voice command with compatible phones, and to pair two phones at once.
The second row had a USB charging port, a 12-volt outlet and a very small bin on the back of the center console, along with adjustable air vents. A 12-volt outlet in the cargo area could be used by rear passengers if needed.
VW Car-Net is standard for all Tiguan models, featuring App-Connect (smartphone integration and interface), and Security & Service (emergency assistance, automatic crash notification, monitoring services for young drivers (speed, boundary alerts), Remote Access & Vehicle Health, and more).
My front-drive Tiguan had three rows of seats, with a second-row bench seat that could recline, slide fore and aft seven inches, and fold flat in a 40/20/40 configuration, and a 50/50 third-row folding bench for two very small individuals, as the seat is low and legroom is scarce and dependant on the position of the second row.
Both sides of the second-row leaned and slid forward for access to the third row. Third-row passengers had two small cupholders and a small storage tray on the armrests.
Driver and front passenger had 39.6 inches of headroom and 40.2 inches of legroom, while second-row passengers had 39.1/36.5 inches. The driver’s seat had a wide range of power adjustments for finding the best driving position. The manual passenger seat was height adjustable as well, and both seats were heated.
Folding the third-row seat down created 33 cubic feet of cargo space, expanded to 65.7 cubic feet by folding the second row, long enough to carry DIY supplies or fun equipment such as a bike or surfboards (if you don’t have the roof racks to haul them).
A cargo cover could be fitted into place with the third row folded down, and stored under the rear cargo floor (along with the compact spare) when the seat was up. With the third row up, 12 cubic feet of space would accommodate weekly groceries or pet supplies (for lots of cats), and tie-down hooks would keep things in place.
My Tiguan had a standard rearview camera, cruise control, Intelligent Crash Response System (automatically shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, switches on hazard lights), Automatic Post-Collision Braking (applies the brakes when a collision is detected, reducing the chance of additional damage), full length Side Curtain Protection head air bags, and crash-optimized, energy-absorbing front end.
Tiguan is a quiet, comfortable ride for daily commutes, with enough ground clearance for rough or unpaved roads. Even with one of the longest footprints in the segment, Tiguan is nimble enough for city driving.
The turbocharged engine responded well once we were cruising, but lagged slightly from a standstill. My Tiguan SE was rated for 22 mpg city/27 highway/24 combined. With mostly highway driving, I averaged 27 mpg.
With the Panoramic Sunroof and $900 destination charges added and $850 credit for standard safety features that were inexplicably not included, the total delivered price was $30,180.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.