I can't help but think the number of people looking for a small SUV that sucks down premium unleaded to the tune of 18/24 mpg with an automatic is roughly equivalent to the number of people looking for a tiger crossbred with an iguana. Sure, they might exist, but not in huge numbers. For those Americans who can tolerate a wagon, the Jetta Sportwagen will return 22/29 mpg with a 2.0-liter turbo that burns premium gas or 29/40 mpg with the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel. With fuel economy on the brain, the Tiguan seems like the answer to a question nobody asked.
If you are a fan of the compact SUV class, however, this Tiguan is a contender for class leader. You can get a proper six-speed automatic or manual transmission instead of the CVT Nissan forces on Rogue buyers. The ride is very comfortable and handling doesn't seem too much worse than a Rabbit. You notice the higher center of gravity, but it's not terribly limiting.
I was surprised by how much room passengers in the back seat had. With four actual adults in the Tiguan, nobody had complaints about crushed knees and entry/exit wasn't an issue. The 2.0T did a great job hauling a full load of people and luggage for an airport run, which surprised me. So many of these compact SUVs seem to lose responsiveness when you actually load them up, but Tiguan soldiered on.
I agree with Marc, the compact SUV makes virtually no sense unless you need AWD. But if you must have a smaller SUV for some reason, the Tiguan is about as good as it gets. Hopefully we'll get a TDI Tiguan soon.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor