This was my first time driving the Volkswagen Tiguan; I think my expectations may have been too high. I always imagined the Tiguan to be a GTI with more ground clearance, but it's not.
As we've all come to expect from Volkswagen, the interior of the Tiguan is full of well-designed, high-quality materials that fit together properly and are placed so that they make sense ergonomically. The exterior profile makes the Tiguan look like a scaled-down Touareg, which wouldn't be a bad thing, except it seems to be scaled down about half a size too small. Compared with its Japanese, Korean, and American competitors, the Tiguan is lacking in the one thing that crossover vehicles are supposed to provide - cargo capacity. With the second row in place, there is only 23.8 cubic feet of capacity (56.1 with the second row folded). And to top it all off, the Tiguan is priced higher than those same competitors.
If you're a product planner, sometimes it's best to ignore history's lessons. Twenty years ago, Volkswagen took a five-door Golf, jacked up the suspension, installed all-wheel-drive, and called it the Golf Country Syncro. The oddball Frankenhatch ultimately proved to be a flop.
Over the course of the long Memorial Day weekend, I kept looking at the Tiguan every time I walked out of my house, thinking, "Is it me, or is the front end kinda weird?" It seems like it's just a couple of inches too long in relation to the rest of the body. Overall, I think the design theme is sound, but there's something about that schnoz.
I much prefer VW's Jetta wagon to the Tiguan, but I can see the appeal of this vehicle. Our all-wheel-drive test car sits quite high off the ground, so not only does it provide easy entry, the car could also actually tackle some greasy, off-the-beaten-path terrain. I'm not saying you should take it off-roading, but it could certainly handle as much as most SUV owners throw at their Ford Explorers and Jeep Grand Cherokees. The high center of gravity weakens the Tiguan's handling quite a bit, but the car still steers and drives decently. Acceleration is quite good, too, considering the fact that this turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is usually in the engine bay of considerably lighter sedans and small hatchbacks.
There's nothing offensive about the way the Tiguan is styled, how it's built, or the way it drives, but this Volkswagen leaves me a bit cold. The turbocharged 2.0-liter makes for a quick little crossover, but the engine drones more and is generally more invasive than in other applications, such as the GTI. The interior is well screwed together, but it all seems a bit staid. On the other hand, I try to think of a better V-6 competitor like the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, or Chevrolet Equinox and I can't think of a substantially better vehicle. Maybe my problem isn't the Volkswagen Tiguan, but that the small crossover segment suffers from the same lack of passion and originality as the family sedan category.
2010 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion