By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
As an entry in one of the automotive market's fastest-growing segments, sales of Volkswagen's compact SUV should be firing on all cylinders. Regrettably, early resistance to both its styling and pricing made VW's "kinda-cute" ute a tougher sell than projected. An aggressive freshening of its styling for 2012, along with an entry-level price point of under $24,000, provides VW with an opportunity to turn the Tiguan story around. And that could be helped in no small way by the number of new customers attracted to VW's Jetta and Passat; proximity, perhaps, will nurture familiarity.
If you enjoy the footprint and packaging of today's compact SUVs, but are looking for more power and/or greater agility, the 2012 VW Tiguan makes a great deal of sense.
If you're taking your compact SUV to the trailhead, you may wish for a better reliability record than is (historically) typical of VW. And while affordable at the entry level, a Tiguan laden with options can quickly get pricey.
What VW terms a "major design refresh" for 2012 provides the Tiguan with a new front fascia incorporating the horizontal brand face. The result is a compact SUV looking quite a bit like VW's larger, up-market Touareg. At the rear, revised taillights also reflect the appearance of the Touareg, creating a "tough new look for the urban jungle." Finally, the top-of-the-line SEL receives new 19-inch alloy wheels, designed by Volkswagen's performance-oriented R performance division.
Driving Impressions Sharing the GTI's 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, you'd be inclined to think the Tiguan might provide some GTI-like performance. And with a 0-60 dash of less than eight seconds, it's less...sluggish than a great many in the category. However, the Tiguan's upright stance, relatively soft suspension and prodigious (when compared to a Golf-based GTI) mass all work against it. You cross-shop it, however, with some of its immediate competition from Japan, and you'll find the Tiguan unexpectedly responsive, even in base S packaging. Of note is the sport suspension provided on the SEL trim. Given its Germanic DNA, steering, braking and drivability are above average in the class.
4Motion All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
Available on all models (but not, regrettably, available with a manual transmission) 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) takes the guesswork out of 4WD engagement, as it's always engaged. In most conditions 90 percent of the drive goes to the front wheels. When front-wheel slip is detected, however, the system can direct almost 100 percent of the driving torque to the rear wheels, providing driver and passenger(s) with genuine security, regardless of season.
40/20/40 Split Rear Seating
In a vehicle intended to offer utility, nothing beats stowage versatility. And within its compact footprint the Tiguan has it in spades, led by its flexible rear seating. The rear seats will fold in a 40/20/40 split, accommodating a wide variety of loads and load lengths. And they will also slide fore and aft by some six inches, increasing passenger comfort, or cargo capacity, as you need it.
Flexibility, thy name is Tiguan. With its well-established leadership in interior design and material selection, VW advances another step or two with well-considered packaging and features. The 40/20/40-split folding rear seat provides six different configurations for maximum flexibility, the rear seats slide forward and back to maximize passenger comfort or cargo capacity, and a 12-volt power outlet gives you an additional tool at the trailhead. Beyond all this is Volkswagen's careful approach to interior design, layout and functionality.
Striking a balance between city footprint and country composure, the Tiguan constitutes a grown-up GTI for hot-hatch enthusiasts needing more utility. As such, its upright proportions provide more interior room, while its generous greenhouse supplies a better perch for seeing the countryside – or surrounding traffic. The modifications made for 2012 reinforce the earlier resemblance to Volkswagen's up-market Touareg, and since it has also received an exterior refresh, the corporate visage is in full alignment.
At a competitive base price of under $24,000, the Tiguan comes comprehensively equipped, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, 6-speed manual transmission, Bluetooth connectivity, trailer hitch prep, split-folding reclining rear seats, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats and an 8-speaker sound system with in-dash CD. The S with Sunroof package adds a power tilt/sliding panoramic glass sunroof and tinted windows to the S automatic.
In a segment where a great many vehicles are sold with front-wheel drive (FWD) only, Volkswagen's optional 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) is notable for both its availability and capability. One bump beyond the S model is SE, providing buyers with 18-inch alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating and a Premium VIII radio with SiriusXM satellite radio.
With an undersquare bore/stroke ratio and cast-iron block, VW's 2.0-liter turbocharged four doesn't sound like an up-to-date piece of engineering. One drive, however, will make you a convert, with flexible power and prodigious torque. And with fine-tuning of both idle speed and the auto box's gear ratios, fuel economy is improved for 2012 on those models equipped with automatic transmissions and those with automatic and 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD).
2.0-liter in-line 4, turbocharged
200 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 22/27 (automatic), 21/27 (4Motion w/automatic)
By Mamu on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive! Upscale feel to interior!"
Cons: "Premium unleaded huel recommended by VW."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Have had car several weeks and I am so glad I bought Tiguan over the Subaru Outback. It has pep and has an up scale feel to it."
10 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By rick on Thursday, November 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Has left my wife stranded more than once - running out of gas not included. Great car when working properly. Drives nice, plenty of power, looks good, comfortable. Heating and A/C control is not up to the standard of the rest of the car."
43 people out of 74 found this review helpful
By bootsnatcher on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Navigation/Audio and Panaramic roof are top notch"
Cons: "Gas miieage with kids and stuff, only so-so"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Have had this Tiquan for one year, and it has been a pleasure to drive. Engine has quite a bit of pep to it. Though when we had whole family in it, along with cargo box on roof and three mountain bikes mounted on back, it was pretty sluggish. Gas mileage is not as good as the Jetta Sportswagen, but head height is much approved. We can get away with the lack of rear storage through use of a cargo box mounted to the factory rail system. Unfortunately it takes the view of our panorama roof away, and it quite noisy at highway speeds."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Sharmy on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very fun drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This Cross Over looks small and sleek on the outside. I am always amazed when I get inside at how much room there is. Plenty of room to take home the big box store items in one trip not to mention a trip to the hardware store for home improvement projects! I took a quick trip up to San Francisco and back in 24 hours. The ride was comfortable with lots of room to stretch out and maintain my own space!"
28 people out of 50 found this review helpful
By KB52 on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort and drive feel are superb"
Cons: "Small cargo space, gas mileage just OK"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I was looking for compact SUV that did not feel bulky and would be comfortable on long trips. This is the most comfortable car I have owned (previously had Subarus) and it drives so smoothly one feels like its gliding on the road. Seats are incredibly comfortable for all five passengers. Small minuses: Cargo space is limited if there are four or five passengers. has a substantial blind spot. Otherwise, a great car."
29 people out of 54 found this review helpful
By Tiggy Owner on Thursday, July 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, fun to drive, trim, MPGs, comfort"
Cons: "cargo space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in my beloved Dodge Caliber because I wanted something that had less road noise and was trimmed out a little better. Initially, I wanted the Audi Q5, but quickly discovered it was more than a little out of my price range. I learned that the Tiguan was built on the same platform, in the same factory, as the Q5, so I decided I would give it a look. Boy, I am glad I did! Not only do I get good gas mileage, but I get lots of extra bells and whistles that I would have had to pay an additional $20K for to get as standards in the Audi. I love the panoramic sunroof, and it very comfortably seats 4 grown adults. My ONLY complaint is that the cargo space is fine for grocery trips, it is a little small for an active family and long road trips. However, a pod on the roof rack will fix that the next time we hit the road."
17 people out of 29 found this review helpful