2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

Price Range: $26,245 - $39,945 Price yours

Max Capacity: 7 passengers

Engine: 184-hp turbo 4-cylinder

Fuel Economy: 24 mpg combined

Warranty: 6 years or 72,000 miles

Similar: Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape

Release Date: Late Summer

European Vibe, American Size

The compact SUV segment has changed quite a bit in the nine years since Volkswagen introduced the Tiguan. Today’s small SUVs are roomier, more refined and now wildly popular, having recently overtaken midsize sedans as the best-selling type of vehicle in the country. The market demanded not just a new Tiguan, but a different Tiguan.

And that’s just what Volkswagen has delivered. The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is far roomier than its predecessor, which had shrunk relative to its peers to become one of the group’s smallest entries. The new Tiguan is also loaded with cutting-edge tech, including dual 12- and 8-inch digital displays, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a long list of driver assist and safety technologies. Plus, it’s the only compact SUV other than the Nissan Rogue to offer seating for seven, albeit via the tightest third row on the market.

The second-generation Tiguan also boasts the very best bumper-to-bumper warranty in the segment: a 6-year/72,000-mile limited warranty that’s fully transferrable to subsequent owners. Reduced exposure to costly repairs and the likelihood of increased resale values make the new Tiguan a much smarter buy right out of the gate.

Worth noting to prevent any potential confusion, the current-gen Tiguan will live on as the lower-priced, entry-oriented Tiguan Limited, giving VW a quasi-competitor in the burgeoning subcompact SUV segment.

But let’s take a closer look at the newer, better version of Volkswagen’s compact SUV, the 2018 Tiguan.

Smooth In the City

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Rear

When you stop to think about it, the seemingly simple act of driving around town is actually a pretty complex symphony of starting, steering and stopping. And the Tiguan plays every page with ease and grace. Excellent steering and pedal response -- expected attributes of any Volkswagen -- contribute to an overall driving feel that’s among the best in the segment. Even the eco-conscious automatic engine start/stop system is better than most, with forward motion engaged barely a beat after lifting off the brake pedal.

Comfortable On the Highway

The Tiguan’s highway ride is firmer than that of some other small SUVs, but excellent seats, a quiet cabin and superior steering feel qualify the Tiguan as an excellent long-haul companion. Adaptive cruise control can do some of the work for you -- even in stop-and-go traffic -- but the Tiguan’s lane departure warning system is less helpful than the more proactive lane keep assist systems available in some competitors. While the Tiguan’s turbocharged engine generates impressive horsepower and torque, a base Tiguan is a whopping 450 pounds heavier than a base Honda CR-V, for instance. City scooting and highway cruising are barely impacted, but the added mass is evident in highway merging and passing situations.

Easy In a Parking Lot

Although the Tiguan is a bit longer than most compact SUVs, good outward visibility and a decent turning diameter combine to make it a breeze in parking lots. The Tiguan also offers a host of available technologies that make parking maneuvers even easier. Rear Traffic Alert with Braking will warn you of cars coming down the aisle you’re backing into, and can automatically stop the car if necessary. The Overhead View Camera provides a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings, an increasingly common feature that remains among our favorites. Park Distance Control with Maneuver Braking incorporates front and rear parking sensors that warn you of close objects and can even stop the car if you’re about to back into something.

Adjustable All-Wheel Drive

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 4Motion All-Wheel Drive

With a mechanical center differential and electronic differential locks, the Tiguan’s available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system can transfer power front to back and side to side. The system also includes a variety of driver-selectable modes, including On-Road, Snow, Off-Road and Custom Off-Road. Within On-Road mode are four additional settings, including Normal, Sport, Eco and Custom. Combined with 7.9 inches of ground clearance, a 4Motion-equipped Tiguan should deliver as much foul-weather and off-road capability and confidence as most anything in the segment.

Infotainment

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Infotainment

In addition to a full suite of drive-enhancing technologies, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan features an impressive list of standard and available infotainment goodies. While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are finally starting to become more common in the category, in the new Tiguan they’re included as standard equipment. All models but the base Tiguan S are equipped with an exceptionally bright and sharp 8-inch touchscreen, and VW’s Car-Net infotainment system is offered in three tiers. The App-Connect package is standard and includes the aforementioned smartphone integrations. The subscription-based Security & Service group adds capabilities like remote vehicle lock/unlock, automatic crash notification, and the parent-friendly Family Guardian with features including remote speed and boundary alerts. And the range-topping Guide & Inform group includes built-in navigation plus the subscription-based SiriusXM Travel Link that includes traffic and weather info, plus local fuel prices, sports scores and movie information.

Stepping all the way to the range-topping Tiguan SEL Premium nets a 9-speaker, 480-watt Fender audio system and a fully digital gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch customizable display that gives the Tiguan an exceptionally modern feel.

Row 1: A Clean, Modern Cockpit

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Interior

The Tiguan has been reinvented, but the interior materials, design and configuration are all comfortably familiar. Volkswagen’s standard-issue steering wheel is one of our favorites for its exceptional feel, style and utility, and we were glad to see it in the new Tiguan. Likewise, we’re big fans of open bins with power and USB ports placed ahead of the transmission selector, a feature that also appears in the Tiguan. The start/stop button, electronic parking brake and transmission selector are all placed within inches of each other in the center console, which makes for quicker and easier departures and arrivals. The front cupholders are decent, as is their placement, and there’s a medium-size bin in the center console. The center armrest is nicely padded but doesn’t offer the cool, ratcheting height adjustability we regularly put to use in other Volkswagens. Overall the interior isn’t as stylish or adorned as the Mazda CX-5’s, but clean simplicity has its own appeals.

Row 2: Accommodating and Flexible

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Backseat

In addition to accommodating backseat passengers with ample headroom and legroom -- this editor's six-foot frame fit just fine. The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan features sliding and reclining rear seatbacks that adjust to maximize both passenger comfort and cargo capacity. The seatback also features a 40/20/40 split, which makes it easier to carry long items and two rear passengers at the same time. The rear seat also features dedicated air vents, power and USB port, plus a good armrest.

Row 3: Better than Nothing

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Third Row

If you’ll be loading your car with six or seven people on even a semi-regular basis, you’ll want to stick with a midsize SUV or minivan. But even though the Tiguan’s third row is the smallest on the market -- with 3.5 fewer inches of legroom than even the Nissan Rogue’s available third row -- it nevertheless can save you from driving two cars or making two trips or telling your kids that, while their cousins would be more than welcome to come spend the night, there’s just no room for them in the car. Best for shorter, occasional trips and small, flexible, younger humans, think of the Tiguan’s third row as a reserve tank of passenger capacity.

Cargo Area: Above-Average Capacity

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Cargo Area

Two-row Tiguan models offer 37.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row, a figure that places it in the top half of the segment. The third row eats up some cargo space even when collapsed, but 33.0 cubic feet is still a solid amount of room. The sliding rear seats and 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks add valuable flexibility, and the Tiguan offers clever hands-free tailgate open/close functionalities for even greater ease. Like more and more SUVs (and sedans, for that matter), when your hands are full you can open the Tiguan’s liftgate by gently kicking your foot under the rear bumper (as long as you have the key on you, of course). The Tiguan adds a new twist, however. If you have a large load to remove from the Tiguan, first press a button on the open tailgate and it will automatically close when it senses the key walking away from the vehicle. Pretty cool.

Standout Style

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Exterior

The Tiguan’s distinctive and well-tailored look is sure to be among its bigger draws. Not only is it the longest compact SUV in the segment, the Tiguan’s headlights and grille are integrated in a way that imparts visual width (and an unmistakable lineage with VW’s new Atlas midsize SUV), while sharp creases lend a taut, freshly pressed authority. Complex LED taillights give the rear view a similarly serious, semi-premium feel. The range-topping Tiguan SEL Premium adds LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, while the available R-Line package gives the Tiguan a sportier look that includes unique, larger wheels.  

Fuel Economy

The new Tiguan’s EPA combined fuel economy rating of 24 mpg (23 mpg for all-wheel-drive models) is on the low side of the category average, but for most drivers it works out to an extra gallon or two per month.

Compact Comparison

The new Tiguan combines the sharp, angular style of the Ford Escape, the available third row of the Nissan Rogue and the satisfying driving feel of the Mazda CX-5. But as the unofficial king of compact SUVs, the Honda CR-V makes for the most useful, familiar benchmark. While the Tiguan falls short of the CR-V in fuel economy, reputation, overall practicality and predicted resale value, the Tiguan’s available third row, class-leading warranty, standout style and relative novelty give it plenty of power to attract buyers.

Generally speaking, it’s likely you’ll pay more to drive a Tiguan than you would a comparably equipped Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, for instance. While the big new warranty will decrease ownership costs for some and increase resale values, it’s unlikely the Tiguan’s overall cost of ownership will match those of the segment’s proven value leaders. It’s okay to pay more for the car you want more; the key is to know you’re doing it.

Inside and Out: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Photo Gallery

Trims, Specs and Sticker Prices

How much can the Tiguan tow? Will it fit in my small garage? Will it inspire me to spend more time outdoors pursuing an active lifestyle? Some of these questions are answered below.  

Tiguan S
$26,245 (all prices listed here include $900 destination charge)

2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
8-speed automatic transmission
Front-wheel drive (add $1,300 for all-wheel drive)
Third-row seat (standard on front-wheel-drive models, $500 on all-wheel-drive models)
6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system
Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink compatibility
Rearview camera
40/20/40 split, sliding, reclining, fold-flat second-row seat
Cloth seating
17-inch alloy wheels
Automatic Post-Collision Braking System
Available Driver Assistance Package ($850) includes forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, plus blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert and braking
Available Panoramic Sunroof with Ambient Lighting Package ($1,200)

Tiguan SE
$29,980
Keyless entry and pushbutton start
8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with voice control
Leatherette seating
Heated front seats
8-way power driver seat
Dual-zone climate control
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Leather transmission selector
Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert
Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring
VW Car-Net Security and Service

Tiguan SEL
$33,450
18-inch alloy wheels
Panoramic sunroof with ambient lighting
Premium infotainment system with navigation
Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality
Power liftgate
Remote start
Vehicle alarm
Available R-Line package adds performance-inspired exterior and interior design treatments, plus front and rear parking sensors ($1,795)

Tiguan SEL Premium
$37,150
19-inch alloy wheels
LED headlights
LED daytime running lights
Adaptive front lighting system
Leather seating
Driver seat memory
Heated steering wheel
Ambient lighting
12.3-inch customizable digital instrument panel
Fender premium audio system
Bird’s-eye parking camera
Auto high-beams
Hands-free liftgate with walk-away close
Rain-sensing wipers
Power-folding exterior mirrors with puddle lights
Lane departure warning
Front and rear parking sensors
Cargo cover
Available R-Line package ($1,495)

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Specs

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD)
Horsepower: 184 hp @ 4,400-6,000 rpm
Torque: 221 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,300 rpm
FWD Fuel Economy: 24 mpg combined (22 city, 27 highway)
AWD Fuel Economy: 23 mpg combined (21 city, 27 highway)
Towing Capacity: 1,500 lb
Base Curb Weight: 3,777 lb
Turning Circle: 37.7 feet
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 185.1 inches
Width: 72.4 inches
Height: 66.3 inches
Ground Clearance: 7.9 inches
Cargo Space Behind 1st, 2nd, 3rd rows: 65.7, 33.0, 12.0 cu ft
Final Assembly: Mexico

More Compact SUVs

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is one of three new-for-2018 compact SUVs, following a 2017 model year that brought us four redesigns. Check out our Compact SUV Buyer’s Guide to see them all.

 

More New and Redesigned Models for 2018

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