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 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."
2 people out of 4 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."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Mr. OSU on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very comfortable"
Cons: "engine availability. Diesel or V-6 naturally aspir"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I am a road salesman and have had many cars. I rated this car very high because it does so much more that the cars in its field. Tows 2500 lb., seats 5 comfortably with adjustable rear seat. Fantastic suspension, fast and secure on the road, decent gas mileage at a solid 23.5 mpg combination. 210hp / 230bhp. Downside, had to put $2500 in engine at 110,000 miles to repair fuel injectors and CVT valve and main rear seal that was sucked into engine without warning! Would love to have a naturally aspirated V-6 with same HP. No turbo. That would be the perfect car."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By JonathanRTL on Saturday, June 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, quality, performance, great to drive"
Cons: "Luggage space, fuel consumption"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After almost 2 years ownership we still love this car. It's well made, has excellent performance and is extremely comfortable. The interior is made to Audi quality standards. The ride is excellent over Houston's potholed roads. The only negative is that the luggage space is a bit limited compared to it's competitors. We've had no reliability issues whatsoever. The turbo engine delivers effortless acceleration that shames many sportscars. Fuel economy is a but higher than expected, especially around town. Highly recommended."
9 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Karen on Sunday, April 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well, can go anywhere"
Cons: "Rough ride, premium gas, not great gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I like this car but ride is a little rough and sometimes it feels like it is cutting out. Not thrilled with need for premium gas and without premium gas it really is noticeable."
10 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Morgan on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price! Fun to drive! German styling!"
Cons: "squeaky breaks/trans issues"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I really love my Tiguan, but its already been in the shop 2 times for squeaky breaks. my car is a certified used so it been covered under warranty, thus far. There are a few things, of course that I would change on the car, but for the price of the car it was a great value. I purchased mine in January of 2014, and it had a bit of miles on it, but because it was a lease it was in practically new condition. I drove a Mercedes C300 luxury for 2 weeks prior to driving this and I HATED it. Having driven Mercedes most of my life I realized finally that the materials are getting cheaper and cheaper in them, so I drove this Tiguan. I really fell in love as soon as i got a feel for all the head room and space for what is practically a jacked up golf its not bad for around town. My fiancé and our dog are now on a long road trip and we are now realizing how super small of a car it is, and i say car because its in my opinion it actually has less space than a car for luggage. passenger space is good, but the rear hatch is super small. I have enjoyed it for the most part, but i notice the Transmission seems to shimmy a bit when you are really getting on it, and this makes me nervous, and seems to be a common issue. The breaks are also ver squeaky *but only in the mornings* and the vw guy said this is a problem on ALL of them! I am already upside down in the car, but then again thats my fault for not making a higher payment, but i didn't expect the value to drop as fast as it has in just 3 months. I am used to my cars holding a strong value, and this is a disappointment, again that is my fault for not researching. The materials are cheap as every other car on the market, but much less so than toyota or honda. It has a zippy turbo that makes it feel like a v6 and it can throw you back in your seat if you really press it. I also drive a suburban and to be honest the gas mileage per month is about a 30 dollar difference, so i was surprised it wasn't better than what it is. I will be trading this in as soon as the warranty expires, this car would have been a great first car, but for a 26 year old man like myself it isn't the best fit."
11 people out of 13 found this review helpful