What is the Volkswagen Tiguan?
Sized and priced similarly to compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Volkswagen Tiguan is a sharply styled vehicle that has the unique distinction of offering two- and three-row configurations.
A third row is an uncommon feature among small SUVs, and the Tiguan's size means that space is intended for children only. So equipped, the Tiguan's closest rival is the slightly larger and more expensive Kia Sorento. Also worth noting is that the third row is only available with front-wheel-drive Tiguans; all-wheel-drive versions only have two rows.
The Tiguan fits in the middle of VW's SUV lineup that consists of the bigger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport and smaller, new 2022 Taos. The updated 2022 Tiguan gets a slightly sleeker look that brings it a bit more in line with the larger Atlas yet still retains some individuality. Beyond that, expect some new technology features and a more responsive engine.
Is the Tiguan a good value?
The Tiguan's price range generally overlaps that of most two- and three-row compact SUVs. It is available in four trim levels and with few, if any, options. On the upside, fewer decisions and consistent availability at dealerships make the buying process simpler, but there remains the chance a feature you might want is locked away on a higher, more expensive trim level.
The base S trim level starts at $27,190 equipped with front-wheel drive and three-row seating. Adding all-wheel drive, which removes the third row, costs $1,500. Additional driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, are available in an $895 package.
Most shoppers will navigate to the SE trim level, which starts at $30,690 for front-wheel drive and includes the driver aids and additional comfort features including a larger touchscreen, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
How does the Tiguan drive?
The Tiguan's turbocharged 184-horsepower four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic transmission carry over from last year. We criticized this powertrain previously for general sluggishness and lethargic downshifts that showed up in real-world driving, like unprotected left turns.
Though the powertrain's output has the same ratings as before, VW says software updates improve its responsiveness. During our brief drive, the Tiguan felt appropriately punchy around town, with pleasing feeling acceleration as the turbocharger built boost. Alas, the power and fuel economy are poor compared to most rivals (covered in greater detail below).
How's the Tiguan's tech?
The most substantial upgrade to the Tiguan comes from the new tech interfaces. Where the base trim level has a 6-inch touchscreen, everything SE and above comes with an 8-inch display that's crisp and easy to read. The top trim level even features a highly attractive and multi-configurable 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster. (Lower trim levels have an 8-inch display in this area.)
Everything looks neat and clean, and we appreciate the addition of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity on SE and above trim levels. That means you can display your phone's apps on the touchscreen without having to use a USB cord.
Unfortunately, Volkswagen has made extensive use of touch-sensitive switches instead of physical buttons in the updated Tiguan. These include the switches surrounding the touchscreen as well as the steering wheel and, on SE and above trim levels, the climate controls.
These controls are easy to use when parked, and we appreciate the simulated tactile feedback from the steering wheel controls. But using these switches while driving can also draw your attention away from the road because you still have to look down to pinpoint the one you want rather than just going by feel as you can with a regular button.
Advanced driving aids, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, are standard on everything above the base trim level. The Tiguan's new Travel Assist system engages adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist at the touch of a button, and it can now be optioned even on the base model.
How's the Tiguan's interior?
The technology features Volkswagen has introduced constitute the biggest visual and functional changes to the interior. The available colors for the cloth, faux leather and leather upholstery options have changed, and there's now configurable ambient lighting. Otherwise, the interior is structurally the same as last year.
The two-row Tiguan's interior compares favorably to other compact SUVs. There's ample passenger space front and rear, with plenty of second-row legroom for taller occupants. Adding the third row reduces interior space behind the front seats somewhat. The second row slides forward and back to ease access to the third row, but once seated, the lack of legroom shows that the space is intended for kids only.
How are the Tiguan's storage and towing?
When configured with two rows, the Tiguan's cargo space is among the largest of compact SUVs with the second row upright or folded. Predictably, the third row reduces cargo space behind the second row even when folded. With the third row upright, the space is similar to that of the slightly larger three-row Kia Sorento. While the Tiguan doesn't offer additional storage under the cargo floor, we appreciate the inclusion of a spare tire.
How economical is the Tiguan?
We expect better efficiency from the Tiguan's 184-hp output, as its EPA-estimated fuel economy is closer to that of significantly more powerful competitors such as the turbo version of the Kia Sorento (281 hp). At its most efficient, the Tiguan gets 26 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Adding all-wheel drive subtracts 1 mpg, while opting for the R-Line and its 20-inch wheels subtracts yet another mpg. Most other compact SUVs have higher fuel economy and similar power output. The 190-hp Honda CR-V, for example, gets up to 30 mpg combined.
While disappointing fuel economy and potentially annoying touch-sensitive controls are sore points, the 2022 Tiguan's roomy interior, slick exterior styling and additional (and more widely available) technology features help boost its appeal. The available third row remains a distinct offering too.