2017 Volkswagen Tiguan First Look: Volkswagen's Compact SUV Has a Whole New Look

By Keith Buglewicz on September 14, 2015 7:45 AM

The Volkswagen Tiguan never quite caught on with U.S. audiences, despite being a sales success in Europe and elsewhere. However, the compact crossover SUV market has grown significantly, and Volkswagen has gone all out with the second generation 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Name Remains the Same

About the only carryover thing you'll see on the 2017 VW Tiguan -- which will likely go on sale in the U.S. in the fall of next year -- is the quirky name itself. The architecture for the new Tiguan is all-new, and is the first SUV based off Volkswagen's excellent MQB platform, which also underpins the VW Golf, Audi TT and A3, and other vehicles. Dimensionally, VW takes a "lower, longer, wider" approach to design, with the new Tiguan gaining 2.4 inches in length -- including 3 inches in the wheelbase -- and 1.2 inches in width, while losing 1.3 inches in height. Inside, the Tiguan gains 1.8 cu.-ft. of cargo space, along with extra rear legroom. Note that a long-wheelbase version of the Tiguan will be appearing on our shores, which promises to be even bigger than the European version noted above and will accommodate a third row of seats. We expect revised specs will be available closer to the U.S. version's launch.

Power Hungry

While it's currently unclear exactly which engines will be coming to the U.S. versions of the new Tiguan, it's a good bet that it'll be the more powerful of the ones being offered in European versions. In this case, it could be the newly upgraded 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which now makes about 220 horsepower. However, considering the Volkswagen fanbase's love of diesel power, it's possible we could see one of the new TDI diesels coming our way, most likely the familiar 2.0 TDI we've seen in various guises in other Volkswagen and Audi products. Still, we're secretly hoping for the new 240-horsepower twin-turbo TDI that will be available in Europe. Interestingly, the new Tiguan's tow rating is up to 5,500 pounds depending on what engine you choose; if that rating holds in the U.S., it would be one of the highest towing capacities in the market segment.

The Tiguan will be available in front-wheel drive or with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive. The latter gets upgraded with a pushbutton/rotary knob controller that lets the driver select between four different modes, depending on the type of terrain is currently under the tires. The automatic system favors front-wheel drive for fuel economy, but will immediately transfer power to the rear when the system detects a slipping wheel.

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An even greener variation on the Tiguan theme

Volkswagen also displayed a bit of Tiguan based future think in the form of a GTE Concept. The automaker's first plug-in hybrid SUV matches a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with an electric motor integrated into its specially designed 6-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. The GTE Concept is fitted with a 13kWh lithium-ion battery that allows this could-be Tiguan to travel up to 31 miles in pure EV mode and reach a speed of 81 mph. The pack can be replenished on the fly via regenerative braking or a solar panel integrated into its roof as well as by the conventional plug-in method.

In addition to its zero-emissions E-Mode capability, the Tiguan GTE Concept can operate in conventional Hybrid, Battery Charge, or GTE settings. The latter is VW's performance-oriented mode common to all its hybrid/plug-in models. Engaging it puts the engine/motor combo into its full "boosting" configuration while adding more dynamic character to the steering effort, throttle action and shift mapping. Clicked into GTE, this green-themed Tiguan can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 8.1 seconds and reach a top end of 124 mph.

Brains and Beauty

Volkswagen is adding a new level of electronic sophistication to the market with the new Tiguan. A 12.3-inch Active Info display -- you'd know it as a digital dash -- makes up the gauges and interactive driving profiles. A new head-up display will also be available, and the audio system includes a standard touch-screen, 5.0-inches in base models, and up to 8.0-inches in higher end ones. Additionally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, allowing drivers to interact with their devices in an intuitive, native-feeling way. A 360-degree external camera system will also be available, and out back, you can wave your foot under the rear bumper to open the hatch.

The sophistication extends to the safety front as well. Standard on all new Volkswagen Tiguan models -- at least in Europe -- will be a suite of electronic aids, such as a radar-based Front Assist system that includes city emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring. It also includes lane assist, and a specially designed hood that will pop up slightly if a pedestrian is struck, helping reduce "the intensity of dangerous head injuries." Surely, less intensely dangerous head injuries are something we could all get behind. Other electronic aids include adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow for traffic jams, and an emergency assist system that will automatically apply the brakes after a crash to keep the car from rolling into a dangerous situation.

It sounds like a tank, but in reality the new Tiguan is a sharp looking compact SUV. The added width is emphasized with a wide grille, flanked by dual LED headlights. There's a strong family resemblance to the current-generation Golf, which is no bad thing, and we particularly like the way the new Tiguan looks in R-Line guise; with its unique grille and hunkered over its big optional 20-inch wheels, it looks like something that could've come out of BMW's M division.

Coming to America?

Of course, we're still a bit in the dark as to exactly how much of this will wind up in the U.S. version. It's a good bet that a lot of the more sophisticated electronic and driver assist systems will make it our way, although we're not sure about the pedestrian-friendly hood. Additionally, Volkswagen has confirmed that the U.S. version of the Tiguan will be available with a third row of seats, taking advantage of the longer wheelbase of the U.S. model. We'll get a better idea about what we'll be getting in this country soon, when the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan makes its first appearance, possibly at next year's Los Angeles Auto Show.

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