By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
The 2016 Tiguan is Volkswagen's compact SUV, meant to take on rivals like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. The Tiguan tends to get lost amid the sea of better-selling competitors, but if you look closely it has merits. This VW crossover SUV has an upscale feel, while its standard 200-horsepower turbocharged engine and sporty handling make it one of the more fun-to-drive SUVs. Even with a price cut for 2016, the Tiguan is more expensive than rivals. The VW's smaller size makes it easy to park, but that also means less cargo space. It's also less fuel-efficient than competitors. The Tiguan isn't for everyone, but if you want a small German SUV with sporty handling, it deserves a look.
While it's fun to drive, the Tiguan is a step or two behind rivals when it comes to size, fuel economy and the latest safety technology like automatic emergency braking or even blind-spot monitoring. With a starting price of nearly $26,000, the Tiguan costs thousands more than mainstream rivals.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 VW Tiguan is aging but hopes to stay fresh with a new infotainment system that integrates with various smartphones and finally includes a USB input. New standard features include Leatherette upholstery, heated front seats and push-button start. The formerly top-shelf R-Line is now a lower-trim model.
With a 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and entertaining driving dynamics, there's some merit to VW's claim that the Tiguan is the GTI of the compact-SUV class. However, it's still taller...
... and heavier than its hatchback cousin, so don't expect actual GTI agility from behind the wheel. A manual transmission is no longer available in the Tiguan, leaving its sole offering a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual control. It works well, but the powertrain in general can't match the fuel economy of rivals. A Sport mode offers zestier performance by holding gears longer. The Tiguan's available 4Motion all-wheel-drive (AWD) system enhances traction in inclement weather and is suitable for light-duty off-road situations. The Tiguan's smooth ride is offset by a somewhat noisy cabin, and some of our evaluators found the intrusive head restraints an uncomfortable coda to the otherwise supportive seats.
The Volkswagen Tiguan has been around in its current form for several years, yet it still looks fresh and handsome thanks to its Euro style. The minimalist design is obviously Volkswagen even without the "VW" logo on the nose, and the same is true for the comfortable and upscale-feeling interior.
Speaking of that interior, Volkswagen makes do with its relatively limited space with clever packaging. The rear seats fold in a 3-way 40/20/40 split, and the Tiguan's rear seat slides six inches to accommodate cargo or people.
The VW Tiguan's interior offers straightforward controls, with the tight fit and finish we expect from Volkswagen. Beyond just looking good, everything feels good. The steering wheel's built-in audio and phone buttons have a satisfying tactile nature. With faux leather now standard, VW's small crossover SUV further increases its premium appeal. Genuine leather is also available in this 2-row, 5-passenger SUV. New for 2016 is a long-overdue USB input. On models so equipped, the navigation screen is within easy reach. Rear cargo area is smaller than most compact SUVs, but the Tiguan makes smart use of that space (see Favorite Features).
With an overall length just over 174 inches, the 2016 Tiguan is small even by compact-SUV standards. A Honda CR-V, for example, is over five inches longer, while the Nissan Rogue is a relative giant at eight inches longer than the VW. The Tiguan's smooth, uncluttered lines and horizontal grille give it a squat appearance. Although it bears a familial resemblance to its bigger brother, the Volkswagen Touareg, the Tiguan's small size and lower ground clearance make it appear more cute than tough.
Even an entry-level Tiguan is equipped quite well, as it should be given its higher price point in this segment. A base 2.0T S comes with keyless access and push-button start, V-Tex faux leather upholstery, heated front seats, rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 8-speaker audio system. One particularly welcome feature for the 2016 model year is the new MIB II touch-screen infotainment system. In addition to offering Bluetooth connectivity, a USB input and VW's suite of Car-Net apps, this system is among the first to play nice with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone platforms.
Aside from 4Motion AWD, most extras for the 2016 Tiguan come by climbing trims. The now mid-trim R-Line adds power driver's seat, a larger (6.3-inch) touch-screen display, sport suspension, shift paddles and 19-inch wheels. The Tiguan SE model has a panoramic sunroof, navigation system, bright bi-xenon headlights, and front fog lights and cornering lights. Top-end SEL models are loaded with leather seating with driver's seat memory, power-operated passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, rear park assist, and a Fender premium audio system. All models can be had with a trailer hitch.
All models of the VW Tiguan are powered by a peppy, 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The sole transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard and AWD is available. The 6-speed automatic has manual shift and sport modes, with the sporty R-Line model including steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Tiguan's towing capacity is rated at 2,200 pounds. There are two downsides to the Tiguan's drivetrain, though. First, fuel economy lags most of its competitors, and adding insult to injury, premium gasoline is recommended (but not required).
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/26 mpg (FWD), 20/26 mpg (4Motion AWD)
Even with a starting price that's been reduced almost $1,400, it's hard to call the 2016 VW Tiguan a good value. A base Tiguan S carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,755. Adding AWD is another $1,975. The Tiguan R-Line opens at $29,565, while a top-line Tiguan SEL with AWD is over $37,000. The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, by comparison, begin in the low-to-mid-$24,000 range, while the Kia Sportage and freshly revamped Hyundai Tucson start in the mid-$23,000 range. The Mazda CX-5, a lively, stylish and tech-rich compact SUV, starts as low as $22,675 with a manual transmission and offers up to 35 mpg. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new vehicle. The Tiguan's resale value is predicted to trail that of its peers and stray far below leaders like the CR-V and Subaru Forester.