2010 Volkswagen Tiguan
Base price: $23,200 – $31,550
As tested: $25,900
MPG: 18 city/24 highway
- Premium feeling compact crossover
- Excellent handling, comfortable ride
- Impressive crash test results
- Impressive crash test results
- Premium fuel and poor gas mileage
- No diesel or hybrid available
By Jim Prueter
Late arriving Tiguan nice but pricey
There’s an old axiom that says if you’re the last to arrive at a party, you’d better be the best dressed. And Volkswagen is a very late arrival to the compact vehicle party. It is a crossover — a utility vehicle built on a passenger-car platform rather than a truck frame — and shares a platform with the Golf and Passat.
When we say late we’re not talking about a year or two, more like a decade and a half? It was 1996 when Honda debuted its popular CR-V, ditto Toyota RAV4. One could speculate some of the delay could be attributed to the VW marketing department’s attempt to yet again come up with another odd name, which they’re fond of doing.
We love the cute names like Beetle and Rabbit, but honestly, Touareg? Routan? And now Tiguan, a name, we’re told, was devised by combining “tiger” with “iguana.”
The diminutive Tiguan joins a very competitive class occupied by the CR-V, RAV4, Mazda CX-7, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Patriot, Hyundai Tucson and several others. Tiguan is the smallest in the class, roughly 7/8 the size of the others. But its saving grace is being one of the better choices.
Powered by a terrific 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it produces 200-horsepower but returns a disappointing 18 miles per gallon in the city, 24 highway on recommended premium fuel. Buyers downsizing from full-sized SUVs to go smaller and thriftier are certainly looking for better fuel economy than that. It’s also a bit of a surprise that VW hasn’t committed to offering the Tiguan with a diesel, which would raise efficiency to the 30 mpg combined area.
But with Tiguan already starting at $23,200, adding an additional $2000 or more for a diesel would push the base price to a significantly uncompetitive position; Patriot starts at $15,995 and Tucson at $18,995. Add an automatic transmission, navigation, full-length panoramic sunroof, and multimedia system with DVD and rear-view camera and Tiguan reaches $37,000 quickly.
But spending a week with Tiguan, we came to appreciate the attractive exterior styling that appears more upscale than its competitors. The interior is surprisingly roomy, with comfortable front seats, and rear seats that slide fore and aft, and recline. Decent head, hip and legroom provide a comfortable setting for most passengers. There are three headrests for rear-seat passengers.
With rear seats folded, cargo capacity expands to just over 56 cubic feet. There are bins on the outside edges of the rear seats, a double shelf in the center control stack to hold a cell phone, sunglasses or loose change, and slots in the doors for water bottles. The glove box has a place to hold a pen and clip a note pad.
We liked the look and layout of the dash, night-lit by an indigo glow, with slots for gate keys, large dials for audio and climate control systems. Build quality and materials areimpressive.
The ride and handling are traditionally German: firm yet composed with agility. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is spirited and responsive. Steering is easy, parking a snap.
Tiguan is available in three trim levels: base S ($23,200), Wolfsburg ($27,750) and SEL ($31,550). All are available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The S comes standard with a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic is optional ($1100). The automatic is standard on Wolfsburg and SEL models.
Safety features include dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, traction and electronic stability control. Rear side airbags and review backup camera are options.
NHTSA awarded Tiguan the highest possible five-star rating in crash tests, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the highest possible “Good” rating.
Tiguan generally has a more premium feel than most compact crossovers, and we are impressed with the overall quality of fit, finish and materials. But it is also more expensive, falling somewhere between an economy compact crossover and a luxury compact crossover. Unless you absolutely require all-wheel drive, we recommend skipping this feature to help manage cost. Volkswagen includes three years of free scheduled maintenance and Tiguan is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.