Full 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan Review
What's New for 2014
The sporty new R-Line debuts as the top-of-the-line trim level for the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan. VW has also adjusted standard equipment and introduced its new Car-Net telematics service.
Older vehicle models that haven't changed in a long time are often seen as outdated or less desirable, but the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is a notable exception. Although the Tiguan has been on sale for six years without a major redesign, there's still a lot to be said for VW's compact crossover SUV. If you're looking for a small utility vehicle that doesn't feel entry-level and you're willing to spend a little extra, the Tiguan remains one of the most rewarding vehicles in its segment.
On the road, the Tiguan's suspension and powertrain continue to set it apart. The ride is quiet and smooth, even on patchy roads, yet there's enough athleticism here to keep the tall VW planted in corners. And while the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is less powerful than the engines in some rival crossovers, it feels as energetic as ever in real-world acceleration. If compact crossovers were judged solely on driving satisfaction, the Tiguan would be a perennial all-star.
But there's a more practical side to crossover ownership, of course, and that's where the Tiguan comes back to earth. Take technology features, for example. Happily, Bluetooth now comes standard on every Tiguan, and if you step up from the base S to the SE, you get iPod connectivity and VW's new Car-Net safety telematics system, too. But the SE's retail price is higher than the norm, especially if you want the touchscreen interface that comes with the Appearance package. Plus, no matter the model, the Tiguan has less luggage and cargo space than most competitors.
If you're looking for Tiguan alternatives, the biggest challenge is narrowing them down to a manageable group. We're big fans of the stylish and fuel-efficient 2014 Mazda CX-5, while the 2014 Ford Escape delivers Tiguan-style European driving dynamics in a considerably higher-tech package. We'd also take a look at the turbocharged Kia Sportage SX as a quicker, edgier and potentially cheaper substitute. On the higher end, you could look at a premium-brand model like the BMW X1, which offers a level of performance rarely found in a crossover, although, it offers no more space than the VW and option prices are higher. Ultimately, if the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan's sophisticated character speaks to you, don't let ageism hold you back. Asking price aside, it's still one of the most appealing compact crossovers you can buy.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in five trim levels: S, SE, SE with Appearance, SEL and R-Line.
The entry-level S comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels (upgraded to alloy on automatic transmission models), heated mirrors, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, eight-way manual front seats with adjustable lumbar, 40/20/40-split rear seats with reclining seatbacks, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary jack.
The SE adds tinted windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated washer nozzles, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, heated front seats, a power-recline function for the driver seat, VW Car-Net telematics and iPod connectivity.
The SE with Appearance steps up to 18-inch alloy wheels; chrome exterior trim; roof rails; foglights; keyless ignition/entry; power recline for the front seats; a rearview camera; and an upgraded sound system with a touchscreen interface, a six-CD in-dash changer, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
The SEL throws in a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, a premium Fender audio system and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Finally, the R-Line tacks on 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, a sport body kit, a sport-tuned suspension, LED license plate illumination, automatic wipers, power-folding exterior mirrors, full power front seats, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, special interior accents (including an R-Line steering wheel with paddle shifters) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Tiguan S comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic is optional. All other Tiguans come only with the automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on all models, but all-wheel drive (known as 4Motion) is available across the board, except on the manual-transmission S.
In Edmunds performance testing, a front-wheel-drive Tiguan with an automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is pretty quick for a crossover in this class.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive Tiguan with the manual transmission is 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/26 mpg highway). Automatic-equipped models return 23 mpg combined (21 city/26 highway), while all-wheel-drive models achieve the same 23 combined (20/26).
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is included on the SE with Appearance, SEL and R-Line models, but parking sensors are not available. VW's new Car-Net telematics system, standard from SE on up, includes automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers). A Car-Net smartphone app lets owners control many of these functions on the go.
In government crash tests, the Tiguan garnered four stars out of five overall, with three stars for total front crash protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tiguan its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests. In the institute's new small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Tiguan received a "Marginal" rating (second-worst of four), though most vehicles have posted similarly mediocre ratings in this test so far.
In Edmunds brake testing, the front-wheel-drive Tiguan came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, an average result for the class.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Tiguan's dashboard is attractive in a restrained sort of way, not unlike the vehicle itself. No stylistic chances were taken, yet the overall impression is one of solidity and sophistication, with supple materials in abundant supply. The climate and audio controls are well-placed and easy to use, while the available touchscreen provides a crisp, intuitive interface. We only wish that the touchscreen were larger, as its compact dimensions limit the amount of information that can be displayed.
The Tiguan's front seats provide pleasantly firm support for straight-line travel, though their lateral bolstering is predictably modest. We appreciate that both seats are height-adjustable in all models; that's not a given in this segment. In back, the reclining seatbacks and 6 inches of fore/aft seat travel ensure full comfort for adult occupants. The three-way split-folding seatbacks allow the two outboard seats to be occupied while the middle holds long pass-through items like skis or snowboards. The front passenger seat also folds fully flat for bonus storage possibilities.
When you slide the rear seats all the way forward, the Tiguan can accommodate 23.8 cubic feet of cargo behind them, while folding those rear seatbacks down opens up 56.1 cubes of space. That's a useful amount, to be sure, but it's well shy of the 70-plus cubic feet in the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan's turbocharged four-cylinder engine hits the sweet spot. It's significantly stronger than the base engines in the abovementioned Honda and Toyota (neither of which offers an upgrade), and its acceleration is so gratifying that more power seems unnecessary.
The Tiguan also feels reasonably poised when you drive it around turns, and the R-Line feels a little sportier, thanks to its firmer suspension tuning. Still, the Tiguan is primarily about comfort. Endowed with an exceptionally hushed and compliant ride, the Tiguan invites comparisons to luxury crossovers with its refined cruising character. It may not come cheap, but the Tiguan will remind you where the extra money went every time you get behind the wheel.