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2016 Volkswagen Tiguan: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan compact crossover now comes with a staring price lower than the 2015 range, yet it still manages to do more with less. Its modest dimensions suggest cramped accommodations, but there's adult-sized room in both rows. Its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is rated at just 200 horsepower, but the Tiguan feels quick. And although the badge on the grille says VW, the driving experience feels like an Audi because the Tiguan is impressively quiet and composed at speed.

Fuel economy is behind the times, but that's something an all-new generation will rectify when it debuts for 2017. If it has to be a 2016 Tiguan, though, here's what you need to know.

What's New for 2016?

Volkswagen's new MIB II infotainment system is now standard throughout the range, bringing a USB port and VW Car-Net App-Connect for greater smartphone (and Apple Watch) integration. This is joined by heated front seats, premium leatherette upholstery and keyless entry/ignition. The R-Line trim level has been re-equipped and reassigned to a lower slot between S and SE.

What We Like

Energetic turbocharged engine; uptown interior; roomy back seat; smooth and quiet ride

What We Don't

Disappointing fuel economy; front crash-test performance; limited cargo space

How Much?

$25,755-$35,310

Fuel Economy

The Tiguan is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine making 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive (called 4Motion in VW land) is optional. A 6-speed automatic is the sole transmission -- not to be confused with VW's dual-clutch DSG automated manual, which isn't offered in the Tiguan.

With front-wheel drive, fuel economy is just 21 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined. Adding all-wheel drive results in 20/26/23 mpg. Frankly, we expect more from a small turbocharged engine these days.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in S, R-Line, SE and SEL trim levels. All-wheel drive is optional in every version.

The S ($25,755) starts with 16-inch alloy wheels, electronic parking brake, power-adjustable heated exterior mirrors, 8-way manual front seats with height and lumbar adjustments, keyless entry/ignition, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, leatherette seating surfaces, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, heated front seats and washer nozzles, reclining rear seats, trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity, Car-Net telematics, cruise control, rearview camera and an 8-speaker audio system with a 5-in touchscreen display, CD player, USB port and auxiliary input.

The R-Line ($29,565) adds a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters, stainless steel pedals, 19-in alloy wheels, silver roof rails, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a power recline front passenger seat, various exterior and interior cosmetic treatments with the R-Line theme, roof spoiler, fog lights, 6.3-in display and satellite radio.

The SE ($32,255) takes the S model's equipment and adds 18-in alloy wheels, silver roof rails, chrome window surround and lower door trim, fog lights, LED daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a power recline front passenger seat, 6.3-in display and satellite radio.

The SEL ($35,310) has 19-in wheels, sport suspension, leather seating surfaces, driver's seat memory, a full power-adjustable front passenger seat, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and a premium Fender-branded audio system.

All Tiguan models can be equipped with a Trailer Hitch package that enables a 2,200-pound towing capacity.

With the rear seats in place, cargo capacity is 23.8 cu ft., but fold them down and 56.1 cu ft becomes available. Both figures are considered below average for the class.

Safety

The Tiguan comes standard with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction/stability control and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side-curtain).

In government crash-testing, the Tiguan scored four stars out of five, including three stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tiguan its highest rating of Good in all categories except the small-overlap front test, where the score was Marginal (second lowest of four).

Behind the Wheel

This crossover is all about comfort, with a suspension tuned to isolate occupants from the outside world. It's great on the highway, suppressing road and wind noise so thoroughly that it might as well have an Audi badge on the steering wheel. It's equally at home on patchy urban streets, thanks to its combination of decent ground clearance and generous ride compliance. This is pleasant-driving compact crossover for the price.

The veteran 2.0T doesn't employ VW's latest engine technology, but still delivers sprightly acceleration almost right across the rev range. And the automatic transmission performs smooth, prompt shifts that reinforce a sense of meticulous engineering. Unfortunately, 26 mpg on the highway is poor for a small crossover these days. Generally speaking, Volkswagen has kept the Tiguan current, but this aspect is where the vehicle's age starts to show.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Honda CR-V -- The CR-V is a best-selling compact crossover that does most things really well.

2017 Kia Sportage -- The Sportage is all new for the upcoming model year with excellent equipment and ever-increasing quality.

2016 Mazda CX-5 -- The CX-5 is a compact crossover with a premium feel and genuinely athletic handling.

2017 Ford Escape -- The Ford Escape is substantially refreshed for the 2017 model year.

Used BMW X3 -- Anyone looking at a new Tiguan might be intrigued by the possibility of a certified pre-owned BMW X3.

Autotrader's Advice

For a somewhat sporty attitude, the R-Line looks interesting. If it's possible to wait, though, the 2017 Tiguan should be superior in every way.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Volkswagen Tiguan: New Car Review - Autotrader