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January 14, 2009 > Auto Review: Tiguan by Volkswagon

Auto Review: Tiguan by Volkswagon

The Tiguan (pronounced TIG wan) is VW's brand new compact SUV. The Tiguan has been available in the US since summer as a 2009 model. It is built on the same platform as the Jetta and Golf. Our tester was a mid-range SE model with VW's all-wheel system called "4Motion." Volkswagen's goal for this project was to design a sporty, fun-to-drive small SUV, and I think they hit their target.

The Tiguan was definitely on the sporty side of the driving equation. The ride was stiffer than other small SUVs, but my wife and I both liked how it rode and handled. It is luxurious, well finished, and has a very quiet interior. Tiguan responded well on my favorite twisty road and kept the driver interested in the driving experience instead of boring him (or her). It has good rear seat room and a reasonable amount of storage area behind the rear seats. Consumer Reports gave the Tiguan "Very Good" overall scores in recent tests.

All Tiguans are basically the same with a few available choices. There are three different trim levels, two transmissions, and two drive systems to choose from. The S is the well equipped base trim level. Moving up to the SE adds things like the huge 13 square foot panoramic sunroof that goes all the way to the back seat. The SE also gets larger 17-inch wheels and tires, fog lights, multi-function trip computer, power driver seat, and improved sound system. The SEL option gets a navigation system with an even better sound system, power front passenger seat, backup camera, bi-xenon headlights, rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, and leather seating surfaces.

VW picked its 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder power plant for all Tiguans. It develops 200 HP and 207 foot pounds of torque on premium unleaded gas. The torque is constant over a wide rpm range, starting at 1700 rpm up to 5000 rpm which means that you do not have to constantly shift up or down to get good response from the engine. Speaking of shifting, you can do it with the 6-speed manual or let the computer control it with the 6-speed automatic.

Your next choice is how to put the power down. The 2-wheel drive models power the front wheels. The computer in the 4Motion system constantly measures various factors and allots power to each of the 4 wheels as it sees fit. EPA test results are 18/25 mpg for the front wheel driver and 18/24 for the 4Motion model.

I like the electrically controlled parking brake. Like Audi, the Tiguan uses a small switch to apply or take off the parking brake. Again like Audi, the backup camera had lines that moved with the steering wheel to show you where you would go at any measure of steering angle.

About the only thing I didn't like was the turbo lag. It was not really an issue when the Tiguan was moving. But from a light or stop sign, there was an annoying delay between depressing the throttle and vehicle movement.

Like all 2009 VWs, the Tiguan has a no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. This means that all scheduled maintenance procedures for three years or 36,000 miles are done at no cost to the owner. The base warranty period is also 3 years or 36,000 miles. The powertrain warranty period is 5 years or 60,000 miles. VW also includes 24 hour roadside assistance for 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Tiguans are equipped with a full range of safety equipment. In fact it got the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award for 2008. They get ABS brakes and an Electronic Stabilization Program to help the driver maintain control in emergency situations. In case you need them, a full range of airbags dot the interior. Rear side thorax airbags are an option on all trim levels.

Cost? I thought you would never ask. The front wheel drive, manual S starts at $23,200. The automatic adds $1,100. The SE starts at $26,925 with the 4Motion adding $1,950. The SEL starts at $30.990. In today's economic environment, I bet you can work with your local dealer to lower those numbers. If you do buy one, you will enjoy it.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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