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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)
The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan S begins at under $24,000, and is comprehensively equipped. The next step is that same model with 4Motion all-wheel drive (which comes only with a 6-speed automatic) and an MSRP of $27,000 and change. The mid-range SE with Sunroof and Navigation takes the SE spec (18-inch alloys, V-Tex leatherette seating, front-seat manual height adjust, Premium VIII radio with SiriusXM satellite radio, etc.) and adds a panoramic glass sunroof and RNS 315 navigation system for approximately $32,000. The Tiguan tops out at roughly $38,500 with the SEL trim level combined with Premium Navigation and Dynaudio. At that level 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) is standard. When shopping, check Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price to determine what consumers are paying in your market area. Competitive vehicles in the segment include Honda's CR-V, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-7 and Toyota RAV4. Among these, the Tiguan is typically the most expensive when comparing feature for feature.
By big red (WV) on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "price fine love to drive when its not in the shop"
Cons: "phone chargers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I bought this car used had it for a year and the dealer has had it more than I have first with just regular things like replaceing power switches then it went to fuel sending unit went out and they had it for 2 months now its back and had 7 codes in it to fix...."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By DOZER (MN) on Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "styling and fit/finish"
Cons: "repair costs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a lifelong VW owner. They do have a few quirks to deal with (maint and repair) but nothing drives like they do."
By Lynda (FL) on Tuesday, March 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,100overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, good price, interio/ext excellent"
Cons: "premium gas, many repairs, only 3yr warranty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I bought my car and after only 32k went to the mechanic 2 times. First to replace the exhaust System then a coil blow because of that repair. dealer says probably to replace at a later time the other 3 coils left. I love the car, Outside and Inside is perfect but I'm afraid that after 5 years and no warranty I might need more major repairs. I would never buy VW again :("
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Babydoll (CA) on Sunday, February 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, small enough to fit everywhere"
Cons: "Bumpy ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Extremely fun to drive. Love the interior, it's very comfortable in both passenger seat and driver seat. Only complaint is that the Tigaun SEL is not as smooth riding as I would have hoped. If you want a smoother ride chose a S or SE."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By LPD 204 (MI) on Friday, February 01, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving, handling , pick up and design"
Cons: "The Ride....rougher in the SEL series."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We have about 1,200 miles on our Tiguan. The handling and driving is a 10. The exterior and Interior design is great, comfort seating is wonderful. We have the 4-Motion series (AWD) and it handles great in the snow. Fun to drive, great pick up and for passing !! The only negative I see is that the SEL series has a "sport" ride which is not as smooth as the SE or the S model. This is primarily due to the 19 inch tires/wheels on the SEL series. However, we still LOVE the vehicle. We liked it better than the Honda CRV , the Toyota RAV 4 and the Chevy Equinox. Has a 12 yr rust corrision warranty"
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By mrtin (FL) on Monday, January 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "everything else"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"there isnt much to say the dealer was VERY NICE AWSOME COSTUMER SERVICE BUT !!!! the car is horrible."
7 people out of 46 found this review helpful