By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 6.3
The 2017 Tiguan is Volkswagen's small crossover SUV, the little brother to the also-uniquely-named Touareg. Like its sibling, the VW Tiguan is an outlier among better-known crossover SUVs, in this case the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. The Tiguan aims and even succeeds somewhat in bringing European flair and athletic manners to a segment often focused on low-priced practicality. But the Tiguan's German character and standard 200-horsepower turbocharged engine don't come cheap. The Tiguan is among the smallest in its class, which makes it a snap to park but also means less cargo space. Despite its higher pricing and lack of the latest safety tech, the Tiguan is attractive for those seeking a small SUV with an athletic, premium character.
While the Tiguan has sporty driving manners, it's a step behind rivals in terms of fuel economy and the latest safety and driving aids like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and active cruise control. The Tiguan is also smaller than its rivals and at nearly $26,000 has a higher starting price.
KBB Expert Ratings
The aging Tiguan gets yet another lineup shuffle, with the R-Line and SE trims gone and Wolfsburg and Sport trims arriving. Base S models now come with a 6.3-inch infotainment system. An all-new, larger 3-row Tiguan is set to arrive in 2017.
With a 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and athletic dynamics, there's 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. The latest Tiguan is now only offered with a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual control. (If you want a fun, manual-transmission SUV, check out the Mazda CX-5.) The Tiguan's automatic transmission works well, but the powertrain in general can't match the fuel economy of rivals. There's also a Sport mode that offers zestier performance by holding gears longer. The Tiguan's available Haldex-based 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 2017 VW Tiguan's interior offers straightforward controls and tight fit and finish. 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. Even base S models now come with a 6.3-inch touch-screen infotainment system that has supplementary physical buttons and knobs. As noted, the Tiguan's cargo space is smaller than rivals. Where the Honda CR-V boasts 70.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, the Tiguan maxes out at 56.1 cubic feet.
With an overall length just over 174 inches, Volkswagen's Tiguan is small even by compact-SUV standards. The Honda CR-V, for example, is about five inches longer, while the Nissan Rogue is a relative giant at nearly 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 Touareg bigger brother, the Tiguan's small size and lower ground clearance make it appear more cute than tough. Standard roof rails help with the latter, though, and add to this small SUV's gear-carrying functionality.
The Tiguan's trim choices are S, Wolfsburg, Sport and SEL. The least expensive S starts just under $26,000 and includes keyless access with push-button start, V-Tex faux-leather upholstery with heated front seats, rearview camera, and 6.3-inch touch-screen infotainment system with AM/FM/CD/HD Radio and USB and SD card readers. Wolfsburg leaps in price to nearly $31,000 and includes panoramic moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, power front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility via VW's Car-Net smartphone app functionality. Here we'd usually recommend a trim as the best value, but at these prices it's hard to justify the Tiguan in light of better-equipped, lower-priced rivals.
Aside from 4Motion AWD, most extras for the 2017 Tiguan come by climbing trims. Keep doing that with the Sport version and you'll get aesthetically unique exterior accents, leather seating, a sport suspension for better handling, bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, driver's-seat memory position, navigation system and dual-zone climate control. Top-line Tiguan SEL models also have the sport suspension, plus premium audio system, snazzy power-folding side mirrors and 19-inch wheels. At over $35,000 for this top model, you can get a much better value with either a base Tiguan or by looking at a different compact SUV.
One of the Tiguan's best assets is its engine -- 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. 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 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/24 mpg (FWD & AWD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
VW lowered the entry price of the Tiguan a couple of years ago, but it's still hard to call it a good value. A base Tiguan S carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,860. Adding AWD is another $1,975. The Wolfsburg starts just under $31,000, and a loaded SEL will set you back over $37,000. That kind of money can buy a lot more vehicle if you look to one of the VW's many competitors. Rivals offer more advanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring and autonomous braking, amenities like power liftgates and heated rear seats, and even more power. If the Tiguan is still the SUV that tugs your heart, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for it. The VW Tiguan's resale value is expected to continue to trail leaders like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester.