2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

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Volkswagen Tiguan Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 200 hp @ 5100 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

  • B Edmunds Rating
  • The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan offers a different flavor in a bland segment by trading some practicality for a top-notch cabin and European driving manners.

  • Safety | Rating Details
  • Pros

    Composed ride and handling; premium cabin appointments; lively turbocharged engine; solid build quality.

  • Cons

    Shy on cargo space; pricey compared to the competition.

  • What's New for 2012

    All versions of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan receive freshened exterior styling plus tweaks to the automatic transmission that boost highway fuel economy by 2 mpg. Top-of-the-line SEL models also get new 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. This year's Tiguan also gets a new LE trim level that slots between the base S and SE trims.

Full 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

What's New for 2012

All versions of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan receive freshened exterior styling plus tweaks to the automatic transmission that boost highway fuel economy by 2 mpg. Top-of-the-line SEL models also get new 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. This year's Tiguan also gets a new LE trim level that slots between the base S and SE trims.


Utility might be the SUV's middle name, but practicality isn't always the most important consideration for some shoppers. If you're one of these folks, you might find the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan to be worth a look.

What really sets the Tiguan apart from other small crossover SUVs is its upscale interior and sophisticated driving dynamics, both of which are noticeably better than its competitors. Inside you'll find a premium-style cabin that approaches Audi in its overall sense of quality. And for power, the Tiguan comes standard with a turbocharged engine that produces a healthy 200 horsepower.

Yet even if practicality isn't your top concern, the Tiguan's limitations should also be taken into consideration. While its cargo hold may be roomy compared to your average midsize sedan, its capacity can't match the space offered by many other small SUVs. In fact, even the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen offers more cargo room. You should also be aware that the Tiguan's trim levels can be priced significantly higher than comparable models.

As a result, we suggest buyers considering the Tiguan also have a look at a few alternatives. Similarly proportioned competitors include the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Nissan Rogue, all fine vehicles in their own right. Before signing on the dotted line, it would also be wise to at least take a peek at more practical crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, as their larger interiors make them a good bit more useful in everyday driving.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: S, LE, SE and SEL.

The entry-level S version comes standard with 16-inch wheels (steel with manual transmission, alloy with automatic), heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40-split rear seats with reclining seatbacks, a trip computer, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. A panoramic sunroof is optional and it brings with it tinted windows.

The LE adds deep tinted windows, premium leatherette vinyl upholstery, heated front seats and a USB port/iPod interface. The SE adds 18-inch alloy wheels, additional chrome exterior trim, roof rails, foglamps, heated washer nozzles, driver seat power recline and manual height adjustment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an upgraded sound system with a touchscreen interface and satellite radio. Optional is the panoramic sunroof bundled with a navigation system.

The SEL includes all of the above plus 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment and memory functions, leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The SEL can be equipped with an upgraded navigation system that includes a larger touchscreen and a rearview camera. To this, an eight-speaker Dynaudio premium sound system can be added.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Tiguan S, while a six-speed automatic is optional on the S and standard on the SE and SEL. A choice of standard front-wheel drive or an available all-wheel-drive system round out the powertrain details.

In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive SEL accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, which is about average for a small crossover SUV.

A handful of engineering tweaks have resulted in slightly better fuel economy for 2012, with the automatic-equipped front-wheel-drive models now sporting EPA estimates of 22 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. All-wheel drive models come in at a respectable 21/27/23, while the front-wheel-drive base model with the manual gearbox brings up the rear at 18/26/21.


Standard equipment on the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

In Edmunds brake testing, the all-wheel-drive Tiguan came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet -- an average performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tiguan its top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

As with most vehicles in the VW lineup, the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan boasts a premium-style cabin that approaches Audi in its overall sense of quality. High-end materials and solid craftsmanship (even actual metal trim!) enhance the premium feel. Most controls are large and well placed, and the available navigation systems feature a reasonably user-friendly interface.

Firm, well-shaped seats provide ample support whether you're logging lots of miles on a road trip or simply negotiating a freeway cloverleaf. The 60/40-split-folding rear seat has a cargo pass-through in the middle, so the Tiguan is adept at carrying cargo and passengers at the same time. The rear seat also slides fore and aft to improve either rear legroom or cargo space, and the seatback also reclines. This feature is common among larger compact crossovers like the Honda CR-V, but rare among smaller ones like the Tiguan.

With the rear seats positioned as far forward as they'll go, the Tiguan can accommodate 23.8 cubic feet of cargo. With the second-row seat folded down, maximum capacity jumps to 56.1 cubic feet, although this is about 17 cubic feet shy of the space afforded by the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan might not have the most impressive acceleration in the segment, but the torquey power delivery of its turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes it feel lively around town. While cornering, the Tiguan feels confident and poised, absorbing bumps with ease. In general, this is one of the most enjoyable small crossovers to drive, aided in part by accurate steering and confidence-inspiring brakes.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Fantastic upgrade from manual economy

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4dr SUV w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I was in need of something with more cargo space & towing capacity, but could still be an everyday commuter. I liked the control of manual transmission vehicle, and it was VERY hard to give that up. I found the Tiguan to have far superior handling, power, and responsiveness (when I compared to other CUVs) that I was willing to give up my manual . I still feel in control. It has the extra cargo space & towing I was looking for, fun and easy to drive on a daily basis, and the luxury interior I didn't know I wanted until I have & love it! With a good pair of winter tires, front wheel drive is all you need. Drives great in WI winters & MO ice storms!

4 of 13 people found this review helpful

My vw tijuan is a

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan S 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I purchased my VW Tijuan in 2012. Brand new. Right off the lot. It has been nothing but a nightmare. Some but not all of the problems: The driver door screw fell off. Yes, you heard that right. The door was hanging with one screw. The breaks fell on at least two occasions. The rest of the times the breaks are very noisy. The ABS breaks go on - by them self. The sun visor fell on my face twice. The first time while I was driving on the FWY, The second time while I was driving in my neighborhood, Scratching my face, poking me right under my eye, then my nose, then lending on my wrist. The heater is very noisy. VW blames me for all of the problems.I will write more later.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

One year and 20k mile

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Bought my 2012 Tiguan SE late in 2012 as a leftover with 0% financing. I now have driven it for one year and just over 20,000 miles and still love it. I traded in a Jetta TDI because I wanted to go back to AWD. I am averaging about 25 mpg on the Tiguan, with the majority on highways. Better than I expected. Can get 30 mpg on highway if you work at it. Very comfortable seats and smooth ride. Handles well for a small SUV but don't expect golf-like handling. Has decent power, once the turbo gets going. The transmission does shift a lot as others have said. Brakes are great. Love the sound system including Sirius and iPod. Very few issues and free VW service for 36k

Love the car, hate the

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

Purchased the Tiguan because my elderly dad was finding the Jetta too low, so we decided to get a compact SUV. We love the VW's European styling and handling. My 2010 Jetta got about 20 MPG combined. Based on sticker I expected that I would get at least 20 maybe 21 MPG combined with the Tiguan, the dealer kept telling me after 'break in' period I would get better mileage, well it has been about 6000 miles, so is it broken in??? I like the car but if knew i was only going to get 18 MPG I would have purchased the CRV, Mazda, or any of the others. They are all fine.

Only thing good are the

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan S 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

It has gr8 looks ,acceleration is very sluggish and engine makes lot of sound while picking up speed .It has a electronic gas pedal which is very sluggish and stiff .

False advertising adds large unexpected

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD w/Premium Navigation, Dynaudio, Rearview Camera (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

The Tiguan sales brochure advertises "Trailer Hitch Preparation". After purchasing the car, I was told it would cost $1,000 for a hitch, five times the amount charged by other manufacturers. Non-dealer cost is not less expensive because of the cost of special parts and the labor needed to remove all the interior behind the rear seat to install the part. Complaints to VW about the cost and the implication that the claim is "Trailer Hitch Prepared" fall on deaf ears. After reviewing complaints from others, I realize that VW is poor on warranty work as well. Accordingly, I will never buy a VW again despite the fact they build excellent cars.

Talk About The 2012 Tiguan

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Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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