The compact Golf might serve as ideal transportation in European cities, but Americans prefer bigger cars. With wider roads, wider butts, and--depending on where you live--tough weather conditions, an all-wheel-drive crossover seems to best fit the needs of American drivers. Enter the Tiguan, a tall hatchback based on the Golf but sized for us. VW calls it the "GTI of compact SUVs," and that's not far off. After all, the Tiguan shares the GTI's basic chassis setup, excellent body control, and prodigious grip. The only engine is the powerful and refined turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The Tiguan offers a better driving experience than do most of its competitors, but at the expense of a few miles per gallon. Buyers can choose from a six-speed manual or automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. The Tiguan has a smooth ride and offers familiar, easy-to-use ergonomics. In fact, the Tiguan's biggest drawback is its moniker. Named by an apparently intoxicated bunch of Germans, it's half-tiger and half-iguana. This makes no sense, but the vehicle itself does. It's much smaller than the Touareg on the outside but still offers a lot of room inside. It's much less thirsty at the gas pump, too. Call it what you will, the Tiguan is a nice, if somewhat more expensive, alternative to the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.
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