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 DrB on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,700overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "styling, responsiveness, gitty-up, fit and finish"
Cons: "rims, mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great car. Only complaint is that the fancy rims that come with the SEL 4 motion are too big (ie tire thickness too thin) for any kind of road. Ride is noisier and rougher than it needs to be in this great car, although the S and SE have the smaller rims and thicker tires. Highly recommend this car for small size, great performance and all the bells and whistles. The 4 motion gas mileage isn't great, but that was no surprise. A sweet ride."
By dave on Monday, February 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "Mentioned above"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"had this car for 4 years. Bought new, have multiple issues that VW has known about but doesn't fix. Examples include: Gas flap that won't open: At dealership acknowledged that it is happening to many Tiguans, answer was to just not close the flap. Sun Roof Screen that doesn't close all the way: Again, dealership says it happens with this model and that it closes mostly, and that they would charge to fix Fuses blowing: Have had several fuses blow. Dealship says again that this model is known for it, Other issues that we couldn't determine if it happens to other Tiguans: Water leak: Took the car multiple times to dealership. First thought it was the skylight, then door jam then it was something in engine compartment. That was it, but from the constant humidity over a year, we have rust on all parts inside the car Front lights: Have gone out twice in 4 years - seems strange to me. Issues that were just bad design: Electronic emergency brake: dumbest idea ever. If the care was more reliable, it would be great. Drives nicesly, looks good, right size for the city, decent price"
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By BCFresh on Monday, January 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, awd, nice interior,perfect size!"
Cons: "pricey, would be really nice in a clean diesel !"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We needed 4wd for winter driving during snowstorms in VT. Past cars we had - Subaru Outback, Jeep Cherokee, VW Passat, VW Eurovan, Mini Cooper S. This Car has never let us down, great driving feel on HWY and Off. Not to big but plenty of room for 4. Panoramic sunroof is huge, finish is clean and not to plastic. Engine is plenty of get up and go w turbo yet we can get 29 mpg on the hwy if we keep from going 75mph. As with any winter car get a set of snow tires - it goes anywhere with just the right amount of clearance. Nicer car than all our previous vehicles."
By Satuit on Thursday, January 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,885overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Turbo - ooh la la! Bluetooth, Sirius, Nav, camera"
Cons: "In town driving, not so impressive, c/b gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in my 6cyl Beamer for a smaller SUV. I like Tiguan's look & styling. Got a good trade-in for my Beamer, paid the balance with cash & drove off. Living along the coast, we never know what our winters will be like. I was concerned how this lighter-weighted car would handle in snow. Surprised for sure! Incredible traction in 10 inches of snow. Driving through New England this winter where each state goes from no snow to 3 feet, this car handled beautifully. Ice, not so much, but what vehicle does? My car is loaded with all the fun technology & comfort. The trunk is smaller than I thought, but I did want a smaller car. The only thing that still bothers me is the 4cyl local driving - maybe it's the premium gas - I've tried all the name gas - Mobil, Citgo, Shell - to the no-names. Citgo is the best, but there aren't any in my area anymore. Anyway, the local drive is just okay. Highway driving is a whole other experience the turbo can't be beat -incredible. I have total confidence I can beat all the other Massachusetts drivers getting into the lane I want. If you know about us MA drivers, you'll understand how important this turbo is. Fast, sure-footed, this turbo is right on the money. If you don't mind the small size & just okay local drive, this loaded Tiguan is a great surprise."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Leodog on Friday, January 03, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty fun to drive"
Cons: "Average mileage, high maintenance costs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I leased my 2011 Tiguan SE with Panormaic roof and GPS and will be purchasing it. First off the upside: It is the nicest car I will have ever purchased. The ride is quiet on the freeway but can get mildly clunky on uneven surfaces. The leatherette seats are comfortable and easy to clean. The comfort is fantastic for a tall guy like me (6'5"). The handling and breaking is phenomenal! Excellent cornering, acceleration, and braking. Sport mode on curvy Sierra foothill highways is like a rollercoaster ride, better than any SUV I have ever driven and I have owned a few. I love the panoramic roof but the GPS is average often not reliably locating addresses and can be complicated to use. The 4motion is excellent in snow although the open wheel design can get packed with snow and cause a vibration comparable to a wheel out of balance. The downside: I had a bad fuse that melted in the fusebox slot after warranty but the VW dealer replaced free of charge anyway. I also had an intake manifild go bad at 30,000 miles that was covered under warranty. Mileage is averaging 23 per gallon, 19 city, 25 highway just as advertised. Not bad but there are many CUVs that have better. I had the free maintenance and once that was over I took it to a reputable local foreign car service for maintenance. I'd say the average service costs for a turbocharged VW is around $300-500 per 10,000 miles driven. That is not cheap but the car performs as good as the day I bought it. I'd recommend this car for the fun driving and comfort but will add that you should keep up on your maintenance if you want to avoid more expensive fixes and shop time."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By JaimeA on Saturday, November 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,700overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Engine, great price, fun to drive, gas"
Cons: "base model could have more standard features"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is very fast, it has the 2.0 TSi engine with turbo and it sounds beautiful when the turbo is activated. We own 2 of them and are very happy"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful