What's New for 2010
For 2010, the VW Tiguan gains standard Bluetooth for the SE and SEL trim levels. A new Wolfsburg Edition also debuts.
The name Tiguan comes from a mash-up of the words "tiger" and "iguana." No, we're not joking, and no, we're not sure if they're pumping something funky into the air supply of VW HQ. Why not the VW Giraffaroo or the VW Turtlephant?
So the 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan's name is pretty different, but in a way it's rather fitting. While other compact crossovers put an emphasis on family-friendly utility, this VW is known for its impressive build quality, high-end interior and sophisticated road manners. The only small crossover from a European automaker, it's certainly a step up from something like a Honda CR-V, though it's still not as luxurious as a full-bred luxury crossover like the Audi Q5.
The Tiguan's appeal starts with its exterior, which draws inspiration from both the bigger Touareg SUV and the compact Golf hatchback. Its curvaceous lines are subdued, but the Tiguan won't be confused for anything else. The same can be said for its high-class interior, which boasts best-in-class materials and simple controls. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of passenger and cargo space. Indeed, the Tiguan is one of the most compact of compact crossovers. Its sliding rear seats help expand space for the cargo area or the backseat, but in general, if you're planning on lots of long-distance family vacations or frequent trips to Ikea, the Tiguan is probably not the best choice.
In the end, the 2010 VW Tiguan's appeal will depend on what your requirements are for a compact crossover and whether you think its higher quality is worth the higher MSRP. Those in need of more space will find the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 better choices. If the Tiguan's size is just fine, you may find that the Nissan Rogue or VW's own Jetta SportWagen can meet your needs at a lower price. But then, none of those rivals are weirdly named after a pair of unrelated animals, are they?
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV available in S, SE, Wolfsburg Edition and SEL trim levels. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, eight-way manually adjustable front seats, and an eight-speaker stereo with a CD player.
The SE adds 17-inch wheels, foglights, heated washer nozzles, a power driver seat, heated front seats, upgraded cloth upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth and an upgraded stereo with a six-CD/MP3 changer and auxiliary audio jack. Leather upholstery, an upgraded power driver seat and driver memory functions can be packaged together on the SE. The Wolfsburg Edition adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels, special badges and leatherette vinyl upholstery.
The SEL starts as an SE with the Leather package and adds 18-inch wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlights, automatic wipers, an auto-dimming mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control and a premium Dynaudio stereo.
Options include a panoramic sunroof, rear-seat side airbags and a hard-drive-based navigation system that includes a rearview camera and digital music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
Every VW Tiguan is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 200 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque. All trims come standard with front-wheel drive, while 4Motion all-wheel drive is optional on the SE and SEL. The S and Wolfsburg Edition get a standard six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic is optional on them and standard on the SE and SEL.
In performance testing, an all-wheel-drive SEL went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds -- midpack performance. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is again midpack at 18 mpg city/24 highway and 21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and the automatic, while the S trim's standard manual raises those numbers to 19/26/21. With all-wheel drive, the Tiguan returns 18/24/20.
Standard equipment on the Tiguan includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Tiguan 4Motion came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet -- an average performance. In government crash testing, the 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan was awarded a perfect five stars in all front and side crash categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Tiguan its best rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
In keeping with Volkswagen's reputation for upscale cabins, the interior of the Tiguan boasts high-quality materials and tight-as-a-drum build quality. Real aluminum -- not silver-colored plastic -- enhances the premium feel. Most controls are large and well placed, and the available navigation system boasts a large screen and a simple interface.
Firm, well-shaped seats offer proper support, whether logging miles on the interstate or slicing through a twisty two-laner. The reclining rear seat offers a 60/40-split design as well as a pass-through in the middle, which allows the Tiguan to carry long items and four passengers at the same time. The rear seat also slides fore and aft to improve either rear legroom or cargo space.
With all the seats in use, the Tiguan offers a maximum of 16.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity, about the same as a large family sedan's trunk. With the second row folded down, maximum capacity measures 56.1 cubic feet, about 17 cubes shy of class leaders such as the CR-V and RAV4.
Its 0-60 acceleration time many not be that impressive, but with a torquey power delivery, the Tiguan's turbo inline-4 feels spirited around town and when passing on the freeway. In corners, the Tiguan's body remains poised. Most compact SUVs tend to skate over rough surfaces, but the Tiguan remains firmly planted while tracking steadily. To add an extra measure of durability for rough road use, there's high-strength steel in the frame plus heavy-duty dampers.
The 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan's electromechanically assisted steering does a decent job of imitating a traditional hydraulic setup. The steering effort starts light and builds to a moderate amount that won't tax even the skinniest of arms as speed increases. There's not much effort needed for the brake pedal either, as it delivers plenty of stopping power with a modest push.