2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

Pros & Cons

  • Composed ride and handling
  • premium cabin appointments
  • lively turbocharged engine
  • solid build quality.
  • Shy on cargo space
  • pricey compared to the competition.
List Price Range
$8,724 - $10,741

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan models

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.

2012 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.


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.


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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

2012 Tiguan - Early Signs All Very Positive
SE 4dr SUV w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Purchased this SE model with FWD after about 5 months on the car hunt. AWD not necessary IMO & saved $2K. Looked at Hyundai, Nissan, Ford, Toyota even Audi & Merc. Benz. The car has good zip, the turbo kicks in when asked, and it rides smooth - suspension can feel a bit stiff though, so you feel some road bumps. Fit and finish are outstanding as are the ergonomics. It is very fun to drive, the navigation and audio package is very nice - IMO, no need to bump up to the next level of audio or trim. The leather-ette interior is very nice; most people think it to be real leather and I like the idea that it will clean up easier since I haul kids. Overall, very very pleased so far.
2012 Tiguan Transmission Defect
SE 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I bought a new 2012 VW Tiguan SE 4 Motion Automatic and in Drive (D) traveling about 25-34 mph the transmission stays in a high gear (5th) and makes a vibrating hum and shake.The transmission will not drop back to 2nd, 3rd or 4th at this speed and is overloaded in 5th.When I give it some gas it hums, lags and shakes more. After applying extra gas it abruptly downshifts lunging the car forward in a jerky fashion.I notified the dealer twice about this issue. The service rep told me the car is in it’s Adaptive Learning phase and will work this problem out after I drive it for awhile. After 3000 miles the Tiguan transmission has not adjusted as the dealer indicated.
Tiguan has Transmission Problems
SE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
When they redid the Tiguan transmission for 2012 they ruined it.  The trans tries to get to 6th gear as soon as possible to save gas.  It now "labors" in 5th or 6th gear at 30 to 45 mph.  You can't drive it at a slow constant speed from 30 to 45 mph with out it "laboring" and vibrating the car.  Check out these links of people with the same problem. - [HTML removed] Otherwise, nice car!
2012 Tiguan exceeds my expectations
SE 4dr SUV w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I've owned VWs for over forty years and never really liked the Tiguan. I saw it as a too-small overweight, overpriced, gas-wasting SUV. However, my wife has always wanted a Tiguan and when a used 2012 white Tiguan SE with nav, pano roof and 6K miles showed up at a nearby Mazda Hyundai dealer, we traded her 2007 Passat 2.0T in on it. I'll have to admit that I'm really impressed with the Tiguan. It's much quieter and has a much smoother ride than the Passat. It handles well, has plenty of power and is a pleasure to drive. The automatic transmission has no problems...however, I think the transmission programming was fixed before we bought the Tiguan.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover18.5%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan
More About This Model

The life of a Volkswagen designer must be a curious existence. While other brands parade a plethora of exotic styles, VW dishes up cars that differ little from generation to generation, or from model to model. The new 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan, for example, is a near facsimile of the larger Touareg and has evolved only slightly from the 2007 original. Right now, the VW design studio is not exactly a hotbed of creativity.

Nor, if we're honest, is the engineering division. It's all as cozily familiar as the 10th season of Friends, which is just the way VW's customers like it. More than 700,000 Tiguans have been built and VW reckons the current car has enjoyed the most successful run-out in the company's history. Volkswagen's customers know what they like and like what they know, so why fix what isn't broken?

The Outside
The nose of the Tiguan has been brought in line with VW's new design language. Pinched from the Touareg, the new grille boasts two horizontal chrome louvers and is framed by the headlights. Choose the optional bi-xenon lamps and the nose is further distinguished by 14 LEDs that serve as daytime running lights. At the rear, the taillights contain an L-shaped illuminated portion common to all new Volkswagens. There are new alloy wheels, too, but that's about it. Viewed in isolation, the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan could easily be mistaken for a Touareg, which may not please those who've spent upward of $44K on the larger SUV.

In Europe, VW offers both on- and off-road versions. The latter has a different chin, which gives it an improved approach angle. The off-road car has a 28-degree angle of approach versus 18 degrees for its on-road-focused sister. For the U.S. market, though, Volkswagen will continue to offer only the "on-road" version.

The Inside
The cabin is classic Volkswagen. It's nicely built using high-quality materials, and everything is sensibly arranged, but it's a bit dull. This is a car designed for a utilitarian purpose that imparts a quiet sense of satisfaction. A brace of 6-footers can sit in tandem without difficulty and the rear seat can be reclined by up to 23 degrees, which is a nice touch. The cargo area is a good size, too, ranging from 16.6 cubic feet to 53.3, and, by folding the passenger seat flat, you can accommodate loads up to 8 feet 2 inches long.

The Tiguan has always had a fine reputation for safety. It earned five-star ratings in both front and side crash tests and received four stars in rollover testing, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Drive
Henry Ford would have been proud of the Tiguan's engine philosophy. You can have any engine you like as long as it's the 2.0-liter turbo. The excellent turbodiesels that dominate the European market are unlikely to be offered in the U.S., at least until the all-new Tiguan, which is due around 2015.

The familiar direct-injection 1,984cc turbo offers a modest power hike over the outgoing model. It now produces 207 horsepower (up from 200) between 5,300 and 6,200 rpm. Peak torque of 206 pound-feet is available from 1,700-5,200 rpm. VW claims zero to 62 mph in 7.8 seconds for the six-speed manual, or 7.3 seconds for the seven-speed DSG double-clutch automatic. The latter replaces the torque-converter auto found in the original Tiguan.

In Europe, this model is only available with 4Motion permanent four-wheel drive, but in the U.S. VW is likely to persist with offering both two- and four-wheel-drive options. The latter normally apportions 90 percent of the propulsive force to the front axle in the interests of fuel economy, but it can send almost 100 percent to the rear. All our test vehicles were equipped with this system.

The independent front suspension combines wishbone-type control arms with MacPherson struts mounted on an aluminum subframe, while the independent rear suspension features a four-link setup on a steel subframe. Like so much of this car, the handling should best be described as competent. Anyone expecting a jacked-up GTI will be disappointed, but body roll is well contained and as you'd expect with four-wheel drive, there's no shortage of grip. Likewise, the electromechanical steering is not full of feedback, but it's well-weighted and reassuringly precise for an SUV.

The ride, at least on our well-surfaced German test roads, was both supple and free of float. For a family-oriented SUV, the Tiguan offers a good compromise of comfort and control.

Final Thoughts
The prices are likely to continue unchanged from the old model, so expect an entry sticker of around $24,000. Those parting with this sum will receive a thoroughly capable machine, and anyone wishing to downsize from a larger SUV will be able to do so without feeling the pinch. There is nothing about the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan that's truly exceptional, but it is also hard to criticize and goes about its business with minimal fuss.

It is, in other words, a classic Volkswagen.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.

Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Overview

The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is offered in the following submodels: Tiguan SUV. Available styles include SE 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), LE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE 4dr SUV w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), S 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), S 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), S 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD w/Sunroof (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), S 4dr SUV w/Sunroof (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SEL 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD w/Premium Navigation, Dynaudio, Rearview Camera (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SEL 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SEL 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), S 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SEL 4dr SUV w/Premium Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SEL 4Motion 4dr SUV AWD w/Premium Navigation, Dynaudio (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and SEL 4dr SUV w/Premium Navigation, Rearview Camera (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A). Pre-owned Volkswagen Tiguan models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 200 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan comes with all wheel drive, and front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE is priced between $8,724 and$10,399 with odometer readings between 92580 and120353 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion is priced between $9,000 and$10,695 with odometer readings between 85210 and126792 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan S is priced between $8,999 and$8,999 with odometer readings between 103456 and103456 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan S 4Motion is priced between $10,741 and$10,741 with odometer readings between 92491 and92491 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguans are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan for sale near. There are currently 8 used and CPO 2012 Tiguans listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $8,724 and mileage as low as 85210 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Can't find a used 2012 Volkswagen Tiguans you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Tiguan for sale - 5 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $21,314.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 1 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $23,666.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Tiguan for sale - 1 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $17,006.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 8 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $23,490.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Tiguan lease specials