Driving Impressions: 2018 TIGUAN 2.0T SE By: Mark Moskowitz MD
Legend is the Tiguan moniker was vetted and approved by a panel of 350000.* Readers of the German magazine AutoBild
voted for it. Other choices were Namib, Rockton, Samun, and Nanuk. None of these made the cut and Wolfsburg's favored combination of a mammal and amphibian (tiger and iguana) became the appellation for Volkswagen's compact SUV.
The 2018 Tiguan is neither tiger nor iguana and having gained 330 pounds, ten inches in length and nearly 8 inches in wheelbase should no longer be considered compact.** The earlier, shorter version is still available and branded as the Limited.
Exterior and Styling
Lizards are ugly and the new Tiguan is not. The sides receive more definition with multiple character lines sculpting the flanks. The uppermost of these integrates the door handles and ends above the tail lights. As seems to be the trend, a trapezoid of glass extends into the C pillar. The earlier Tiguan looked stubby. The present Tiguan is well proportioned. The Tiguan front uses that ubiquitous styling formula of a split grill and distinct side vents. It works well even when dominated as is the rear by the VW badge. To this observer, the muted charcoal finish surrounding the wheel wells and covering the rocker panels is better blended with a dark body color rather than contrasting a light one. Overall, it's an attractive package.
Around town and on the highway the Tiguan was a pleasure to drive. Unlike so many with electronic assists, the Tiguan's rack and pinion steering was a joy to use. It maneuvered effortlessly in and around parking lots and in town traffic, and provided the right amount of input without the wrong amount of resistance as speeds rose. Ride quality was excellent. It was stable over bumps and surprisingly undisturbed as tractor trailers passed on the interstates. Cabin noise was minimal and less than expected in an SUV.
Acceleration was adequate. It averaged 8.5 seconds to 60 mph from a standstill…not horrible but not worthy of a tiger. The same powerplant is used throughout the Tiguan line. In its present tune, the 2.0 Liter turbo puts out 184 horsepower; 16 hp less than last year. Torque has increased from 207 to 227 foot pounds and drives an eight-speed automatic which stumbles a bit under heavy pedal at lower speeds but works well at other times.
Interior and Ergonomics
A lot to like here. Modern dashboard makeup is formulaic. A tach and speedometer border an info center; add some vents and climate controls adjacent to or integrated with a central dash touchscreen. Volkswagen serves it up well. Vents are trapezoidal rather than rectangular and like the gauges are surrounded by a satin metal finish. It looks rich as do the V-Tex leatherette interior coverings, standard on the SE and SEL models. Front seats are heated and multi-adjustable; they are a bit stiff when first encountered but are in fact quite comfortable. Footwells are wide though some drivers may find the slanted upright between console and dash restricts the relaxed bent knee. The convenient console has closed storage and open areas for two drinks, a large phone, glasses and key fob. There are large door pockets and a further recess on top of the dash for more storage. The touchscreen grows from 6.5 to 8 inches on models above the baseline S and the SE's touchscreen and voice functions are easy to master and respond quickly. The baseline sound system is excellent and does not seem compromised by the SUV interior space.
The middle compartment was comfortable, roomy and accommodating. Air vents between the front buckets provided passive heating and cooling. Third row seats are standard on front wheel drive Tiguans and an option on 4MATICs. Middle seat backs are easily moved forward with a pull of a strap to allow access to or to fold down that third row for more rear storage. With everything flat behind the front compartment, cargo capacity grows to an ample 73.5 cubic feet (30% more than last year's Tiguan). The way back seating is suited for the smallest passengers.
Tiguan trim levels and prices follow: S ($25195), SE ($28930), SEL ($32550) and SEL premium ($36250). (Details below.) Add $900 for shipping. Add all wheel drive to any model for $1300. I tend to favor the SE which seems like the best combination of luxury, tech and safety features for the price. Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Warning and Pedestrian Monitoring are all standard. Adaptive cruise control would complete the package but unfortunately is only available on the SEL models. Nav is not included on the SE but with the cell phone connectivity of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, built in navigation systems may be unnecessary. Mention should be made of Volkswagen's transferable six year/ 72000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. Its worth should be factored into a purchase decision.
The new Tiguan is a bit more expensive than others in its class but its combination of comfort, ease of use, luxury, and tech make it worthy of consideration.
Features of the test car not discussed include heated power mirrors, leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel, dual zone climate control with 2nd row air vents, and keyless access with push-button start.