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2017 Volkswagen Tiguan: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader February 2017

It was originally believed that the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan would represent a complete redesign, and although Europe did get an all-new version, here in North America the compact SUV you see here is more or less the same vehicle that's been kicking around for 9 years. That's an eternity in the car world, and as a result, the 2017 Tiguan has more than its fair share of gray around the temples.

Interestingly, though, the Tiguan's appeal largely remains the same. It has never enjoyed mass appeal due to its smaller size, performance-oriented engine and the higher price tag resulting from its higher-quality cabin and more sophisticated engineering. Chances are, if you liked the Tiguan on Day 1 -- specifically the fact that it feels like a VW Golf on stilts -- you'll probably like it now on Day 3,000 (give or take). Of course, you may lament that certain common features aren't available (no accident-avoidance tech) or are of an antiquated design (you have to push and hold the keyless start button rather than simply tap it). Many competitors have also crept up to the Tiguan's previous benchmark driving experience, power and perceived quality.

So, for the right buyer simply looking for a high-riding vehicle with some extra cargo versatility -- versus a full-out family vehicle -- the 2017 Tiguan has a lot of appeal. Just know that next year's all-new version will raise the bar on its current strong suits while providing considerably more space and utility.

What's New for 2017?

Effectively, Volkswagen has replaced the Tiguan's SE and R-Line trim levels with the Wolfsburg Edition and Sport trim levels, respectively. The larger, 6.3-inch touchscreen previously found on mid- and upper-grade trim levels now migrates to every Tiguan along with satellite radio, HD Radio and the VW Car-Net suite of smartphone apps.

What We Like

Energetic turbocharged engine; especially tall seating height; sharp driving experience; easily reached and viewed controls.

What We Don't

It'll cost you more to fill up; disappointing safety credentials; limited cargo space; hefty price, especially for upper trim levels.

How Much?


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.

With front-wheel drive, fuel economy is just 20 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. Adding all-wheel drive results in 20 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined. That's unimpressive, but it's consistent with similarly powered rivals like the Ford Escape 2.0 EcoBoost and V6-powered Jeep Cherokee. Unlike those vehicles, however, you have to fill the Tiguan up with premium fuel and there's no less powerful engine available for those who value fuel economy over speed.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in S, Wolfsburg Edition, Sport and SEL trim levels. All-wheel drive is optional in every version.

The ($25,000) starts with 16-in alloy wheels, an electronic parking brake, power-adjustable heated exterior mirrors, a height-adjustable driver's seat with power driver recline, keyless entry/ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, leatherette seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, heated front seats, a 40/20/40-split sliding and reclining rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and an 8-speaker audio system with a 6.3-in touchscreen display, satellite radio, HD Radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port and VW Car-Net smartphone apps.

The Wolfsburg Edition ($30,000) adds 17-in wheels, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, additional driver's seat power adjustments, a power-reclining passenger seat, and Car-Net emergency communications.

The Sport ($32,600) gains 18-in wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, fog lights, LED accent lighting, a sport-tuned suspension, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, full passenger-seat power adjustability, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel and navigation added to the standard touchscreen.

The SEL ($34,500) reverts to the standard suspension and steering wheel but adds 19-in wheels, an upgraded rearview camera and a Fender audio system.


The Tiguan comes standard with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction/stability control, a rearview camera and the usual assortment of six airbags (front, front side and full-length side-curtain). However, there are no accident-avoidance technologies available on any trim level, including blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning or forward-collision warning systems. Virtually every competitor offers these.

Crash-test scores are also off the pace of class leaders, indicative of the Tiguan's advanced age. 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 newer small-overlap front crash test, where the score was Marginal (second lowest of four).

Behind the Wheel

The Tiguan feels like a Golf that's been stretched upward as if made of taffy. This has two benefits. First, you enjoy an especially high seating position -- not just in comparison to a car but to most competitors as well. This is enhanced by the tall windows and exceptional sight lines all around that stand in contrast to many rival SUVs. Furthermore, the Tiguan's more compact dimensions also make parking a particular breeze. Really, this is one of the most maneuverable vehicles in the segment.

It's also one of the most rewarding to drive. A lot of that credit goes to the standard turbocharged engine, but there's more to it than just spunky acceleration. Its steering feels natural and is consistently weighted, responding to inputs nicely and feeling more in line with a VW GTI (though not quite that good) than the rather vague Jetta and Passat. Body roll is also kept nicely in check and the ride is well damped, though note that larger wheels can cause impact harshness over big bumps (something to remember if your city has lousy roads).

Unfortunately, the Tiguan is less appealing as a passenger vehicle. Yes, its back seat is mounted high, affording sufficient legroom for even tall adults, but that doesn't help when fitting a rear-facing child seat. That back seat also slides forward to create more cargo capacity, but nothing can change the fact the Tiguan offers considerably less utility than the compact-segment norm. With the rear seats in place, cargo capacity is 23.8 cu ft.; with them down, it's 56.1 cu ft. As such, the Tiguan is not a great choice for families.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford Escape -- If you're looking for a fun-to-drive SUV with a powerful engine and above-average interior quality, the Ford Escape is your best alternative to the Tiguan. It also has more space and stronger safety credentials.

2017 Mazda CX-5 -- The Mazda CX-5 is all-new for 2017 and only ups the ante from its excellent predecessor. It too betters the Tiguan as a family vehicle while still being fun to drive.

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack -- The new Alltrack has added ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive over the Golf Sportwagen, but more cargo capacity and better safety credentials than the Tiguan. A good alternative to be sure.

Used BMW X3 -- Anyone looking at a new Tiguan might be intrigued by the possibility of a certified pre-owned BMW X3. It has the premium driving experience you're probably searching for with better performance, fuel economy and space to boot.

Autotrader's Advice

The top trim level is shockingly expensive given its limited space and the number of missing/antiquated features. Paying nearly $38,000 for something that feels like a new 5-year-old Volkswagen doesn't make any sense. However, at $30,000, the Wolfsburg should feel almost the same inside and drive nearly identically -- well, except for the better ride provided by its smaller wheels.

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2017 Volkswagen Tiguan: New Car Review - Autotrader