2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE w/Sunroof & Nav. SUV (2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 7/24/2012
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
The Tiguan offers a little something different in the small crossover segment. Most notably, a European driving experience and an upscale interior. It also has some nice features, such as the sliding rear seat. But it's short on cargo capacity and long on price.
PerformanceEven though the Tiguan is more performance-minded than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, it's not a truly sporty machine. The turbo engine is strong when it's on-boost, but there is some turbo lag. Plus, the transmission is too busy.
The power from the turbo 4-cylinder won't knock your socks off, although it's quicker than most in the class, with 0-60 mph in 7.5 sec. There's a definite delay off the line.
The Tiguan has adequate brake cooling indicated by the consistency of the distances in our panic 60-0 mph brake test. Around town the brake pedal had a linear feel.
The steering is rubbery off center, not especially natural feeling. But the level of power assist is just about right.
The Tiguan feels like the high-riding Golf it mostly is. There's plenty of body roll, but also good feedback to the driver. It's tossable if you want to have some fun with it.
The turbo's on/off nature and the automatic transmission's constant desire to get into top gear ASAP (which lugs the engine) hurt the Tiguan's around-town drivability.
The Tiguan has a maximum tow rating of 2,200 lb. The Honda CR-V is only rated to tow a max of 1,500 lb.
As with most car-based crossover SUVs, the Tiguan isn't designed with any kind of serious off-roading in mind. Good for snow and maintained dirt roads.
ComfortThe Tiguan offers what should be more than enough comfort for most. Sure, the seats could be a bit softer and the ride is fairly taut, but it's also exceptionally quiet. We don't like the fake leather seating surfaces, though.
The seats aren't exactly what you'd call super plush, front or rear, and the V-Tex leatherette material gets sticky on hot days.
The Tiguan exhibits a slightly cushioned version of that typical taut German ride. There was a bit more jiggling on the highway than we expected.
Very, very quiet. The tires make hardly any noise whatsoever, with only the occasional bit of flap over surface changes.
InteriorThe Tiguan offers a mix of good and bad inside the cabin. The good is that it's well made, although the styling is bland. There's nice space up front, but cargo volume is decidedly less than its competitors. Outward vision is excellent.
It has the high driving position that everyone craves. Other than the slighly nonintuitive stereo, the controls are simple and easy to use, if a bit bland. Knobs could be larger.
The Tiguan sits at the perfect height for easy ingress/egress. You neither have to hop up nor fall in to enter the cabin. It's easy.
Decent elbow and shoulder room up front, especially considering this is a small SUV. The rear seat isn't a penalty box, either, as it moves fore/aft and the seatback reclines.
Excellent outward vision due to the high driving position and lots of windows. Also helping are the small pillars and the extra rear side windows.
Odd, two-compartment armrest bin. Decent-size front bin. Door pockets have bottle holders but are narrow and hard to access. Cargo volume is smaller than most competitors.
ValueThe Tiguan's value comes from its quality interior, large array of helpful standard features and good craftsmanship. Its fuel mileage isn't going to win any awards, but we beat the city mpg rating, which is rare for a turbo vehicle.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The build quality is decent for the price, which came in at $31,345 as-tested. It definitely doesn't feel cheap, but admittedly some of the materials could be better.
Panoramic sunroof, navigation with a 5-inch screen, Bluetooth, heated front seats and iPod jacks all come standard on the SE. But, no backup camera.
The Tiguan starts around $23,000, the SE begins at about $28,000, while our front-drive SE test vehicle cost $31,345. This is on the pricey side compared to the competition.
The EPA rates the front-drive Tiguan at 22 city/27 highway/24 mpg combined. We averaged 22.4 mpg during 955 miles of varied driving. But it requires premium fuel.
Basic warranty is 3 years/36,000 miles with 5 years/60,000 miles for the drivetrain. This is average, and well behind the Kia Sportage's 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain coverage.
VW provides roadside assistance and free scheduled maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles. The Honda CR-V, for instance, offers neither.
Fun To DriveThe VW's light feel and sporty-minded handling make the Tiguan more fun than a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Kia Sportage. But the eager-to-upshift transmission and on/off turbo mar the experience a bit.
This is a relatively light and small SUV, but aside from the sporty-for-the-class handling, there's nothing really special in the driving experience that says "fun."
Almost always a turbo gives a car a bit of extra personality, and that is the case with the Tiguan as well. But, the lag leaving a stoplight can be annoying for around-town duty.