2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE
Base price: $26,665
As tested: $32,480
MPG: 21 city/ 27 highway
- Exterior styling
- Interior finish
- Audio controls
- Use of premium fuel recommended
By Clint Williams
Sport utility vehicles typically offer more utility than sport. Those shopping for a small SUV are usually more concerned with the number of cup holders in the cabin than the number of horses under the hood. Handling takes a back seat too, well, the back seat and how much stuff you can load behind it.
The Volkswagen Tiguan SE, a small SUV from the folks that bring you the Beetle, puts a bit more sport in sport utility vehicle while offering enough utility for most folks. The Tiguan, with its raked-back windshield and large side window, is more aggressively styled than others in this class and a bit reminiscent of BMW, that other German carmaker.
There is more to sportiness than styling, however. The Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that provides some punch. The 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque won’t snap your head back or send a tingle up your leg, but it will allow you to merge easily into freeway traffic. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly when accelerating, but seems a bit clunky when downshifting at low speeds.
An all-wheel drive system is the utility part of this SUV’s powertrain. The system delivers power to the wheels with the traction, giving the Tiguan an edge in bad weather. Under most conditions, 90 percent of the power goes to the front wheels.
The cabin of the Tiguan is very nearly luxurious, with soft-to-the-touch dash and door panels. Plus, there are plenty of storage compartments and nooks. The rear seat has a 40/20/40 split, offering versatility when it comes to carrying stuff. Fold down the center section and you have room for two-by-fours or skis and still enough space for passengers on either side. The rear seats recline and slide to-and-fro for more legroom or cargo space.
While the Tiguan doesn’t offer as much cargo space as some others in this class, you still get 23.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and more than 56 cubic feet with the seats folded down.