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 Chip on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 108,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of fun to drive."
Cons: "Well above averge repair costs."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"My Tiguan is a 2010. Drives like a small European sports car. Adequate interior space, 4 motion AWD tracks very well through some of the worst winter weather driving (except higher snow drifts). My complaints are with below average reliability. Problems began at around 70,000 miles. I've had 3 water pumps, trouble with emissions system, replaced turbo, clogged injectors, replaced nearly all motor seals, and other issues. Total cost of dealer completed repairs and maintenance to date with 108k miles - $13,600 (ridiculous). If you get one of these, enjoy it until around 60k miles, then get rid of it!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Lajos on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great power, good fit and finish, comfortable..."
Cons: "Premium gas, average mpg..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The Tiguan has impressive performance and power that gets you everywhere. Fit and finish are quite good, and the cabin is spacious for its size. The engine is very peppy, although it runs on premium gas that makes it more expensive to own. However, the overall good quality, nice dimensions that make it easy to park and maneuver, and fairly low road noise make it a good choice among other SUV's."
By Brian on Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,300overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, fun to drive"
Cons: "Stained running boards"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"We picked up this car a couple months ago, and we have enjoyed it so far. You know going in that this car is going to be short on rear cargo space, the gas mileage is not going to be as good as the competitors, and the safety ratings on this car are not as good as they could be. That being said, you get a comfortable riding car that is fun to drive. Our biggest complaint is the running boards. While they looked great off the lot, and they are helpful for our child, they are stained from the winter road treatment. The dealership says I can get down there and scrub them with steel wool, but to be honest, I don't baby my car that much. I keep it clean and run it through the car wash regularly, but I don't fine tooth comb it. Plus, I really don't want to risk putting scratches on them. So unless you need them, I recommend saving the cash. All in all, great car. I can't say it enough, don't get the running boards (unless you are the kind of person that enjoys scrubbing your car with steel wool)."
3 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By lparks on Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, compact, room for small family"
Cons: "gas milage could be better for size"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had my 2010 vw tIGUAN going on 5 years and still feel like it is new. I've replaced the front and rear brakes once, had an interior light issue, and electronic parking brake stick... but other than that no other fixes than regular maintenance. New tires once. I do own snow tires though too. it handles great, love the turbo. OK on gas, not great, but gets about 18 city, 20-21 highway. leather seems brand new, shines up nice, no rust. I even was rear ended and it held up good. minimal visual damage though it cost the other person 6k to fix. no injuries to the passengers."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Mike C. on Monday, February 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I had this vehicle as my primary vehicle as daily commute and business trips vehicle. 1. Great quality and materials used. Feels like a luxury CUV. I've driven MBZ GL450, Toyota RAV4. VW feels much substantial than Toyota. The material and feel of the vehicle, is not much off from MBZ. I've driven a Jetta TDI Wagon as a rental for a few days. It does not even touch the Tiguan on road manner and handling. Solid and secure at high speed. 2. MPG is not great, 22-23mpg and requires premium. 3. 2.0TSI is great, but at 80K, engine light came on. Spent $800 for a valve cleaning job. Was told by the dealer that Direct Injection was clogged causing cylinder misfires. Great new to me was that engine was fine, but require manual cleaning of the valves tha requires $$$$. 4. Reliability. Mine besides the valve cleaning, no other repairs was needed. I drive 18-20K a year. Car runs and runs. The Tiguan actually feels more powerful than when it was new. It feels looser, and Revs more freely now the engine. The engine still sounds like new."
16 people out of 26 found this review helpful
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."
26 people out of 52 found this review helpful