The name Tiguan comes from the combination of the words tiger and iguana. We’re not kidding, nor are we entirely sure why. In any event, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is an entirely different type of metaphoric animal than what it replaces, ballooning in size to be a far more family friendly and generally appealing SUV.
How big? Well, it’s 10 inches longer, which in car terms might as well be the size difference between a tiger and an iguana. This has resulted in the Tiguan going from one of the smallest compact SUVs to one of the largest. Its cargo capacity is now greater than most, and there’s even room for a standard third-row seat — it’s not exactly adult-friendly, but its presence may certainly help out in a pinch. The second-row seat is now far friendlier for adults and bulky child seats alike.
Now, this size has stunted the Tiguan’s driving experience. It’s no longer the sharp little handler its predecessor was, and its turbocharged engine actually has less power despite dealing with more weight. Fuel economy also trails its rivals by a considerable margin. However, that size in conjunction with its general German-ness contributes to a sense of solidity and ride sophistication you won’t find in most rivals. The interior also has a certain premium look and ambiance to it, though you’ll find its actual materials aren’t any better than what’s in top rivals from Honda and Mazda (they might actually be worse).
Finally, there’s been an influx of infotainment for 2018, along with accident-avoidance tech standard on all but the base trim. Plus, like every 2018 Volkswagen, the Tiguan comes with an industry-leading 6-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. Truly, this not-so-compact SUV with the wacky-pants name needs to be on your test-drive list.
What’s New for 2018?
The VW Tiguan was completely redesigned for 2018. In particular, it is far larger than the vehicle it replaces and receives an injection of the latest safety and infotainment tech. See the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan models for sale near you
What We Like
Abundant passenger and cargo space; available third-row seat; easy-to-use tech; comfortable and refined ride; 6-year warranty
What We Don’t
Subpar fuel economy; less agile than top rivals; sluggish throttle response; no performance or fuel economy engine upgrade
The 2018 Tiguan is available only with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (FWD) are standard, while "4Motion" all-wheel drive is optional.
Estimated fuel economy with FWD is 22 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving. 4Motion lowers those figures to 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. Top rivals are between three and six mpg combined better, which is significant.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 VW Tiguan is available in S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium trim levels. 7-passenger seating is standard on every front-wheel-drive Tiguan. The third row is optional with 4Motion. You may also come across the "Tiguan Limited" but this is in fact the previous-generation Tiguan that will be sold with minimal trim levels for 2018.
The base Tiguan S ($24,600) comes standard with 17-in alloy wheels, roof rails, automatic headlights, LED running lights, a backup camera, single-zone automatic climate control, height-adjustable front seats, a 60/40-split folding back seat, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth, one USB port, VW’s Car-Net smartphone app suite, the 6.5-in "Composition Color" touchscreen interface and a 6-speaker sound system. The optional Driver Assistance package adds forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.
The SE ($26,800) includes the Driver Assistance package plus proximity entry and keyless start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, V-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, heated front seats, an 8-way power driver seat (plus 2-way power lumbar), two additional USB ports (one front, one rear), the 8-in "Composition Media" touchscreen with enhanced functionality and voice controls, satellite and HD radios and Car-Net Security and Service emergency communications (see Safety section). A panoramic sunroof can be added as an option.
The SEL ($31,100) includes the panoramic sunroof and further adds 18-in wheels, a power lift gate, fog lights, adaptive cruise control (operates in stop-and-go traffic) and the "Discover Media" infotainment system that adds integrated navigation to the 8-in touchscreen.
The SEL Premium ($36,300) adds 19-in wheels, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist, a hands-free power lift gate, power-folding mirrors, parking sensors, an automatic parking system, an enhanced "overhead view" parking camera, reverse emergency braking, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, driver-memory functions, a 40/20/40 split-folding back seat, a cargo cover, the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display screen gauge cluster and a 9-speaker Fender audio system.
Available on the SEL trims, the R-Line package adds sportier styling elements and bigger wheels (19’s on the SEL, 20’s on the SEL Premium). The SEL version also gets parking sensors.
Every Tiguan comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control and front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags. The Driver Assistance package, optional on the S and standard on all other trims, includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, as well as blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems. Lane-keeping assist and reverse emergency braking are standard on the SEL Premium. All but the base trims also come standard with Car-Net Security and Service, which includes automatic collision notification and an emergency call button.
The government has not yet crash-tested the 2018 Tiguan, but the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick for its best-possible ratings for crashworthiness and crash-avoidance tech.
Behind the Wheel
The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is much different than the Tiguan it replaces. What was once a small, agile compact SUV that pretty much felt like a tall VW Golf, is now a much larger, comfort-focused machine. There’s very little that encourages you to drive it, given its sluggish throttle response and numb steering. It all feels very disconnected, and putting the old Tiguan aside, the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are considerably more enjoyable. They’re just as quick and more efficient, too.
Yet, the Tiguan has that quintessential German feel on its side. It moves down the road with a certain sophistication and solidity we’ve come to expect from Volkswagen. Perhaps it’s not there to the extent that it is in big brother Atlas, but many will appreciate this distinctive characteristic.
Inside, you’ll be greeted with easy-to-use electronics, sensibly placed controls, a decent amount of storage space, and the same high-quality buttons and switches found throughout Volkswagen’s lineup. The plastics and rubbery dash pad look and feel a bit cheap, though, and if anything, the CR-V and CX-5 are just as "premium" inside. That’s a departure from past Volkswagens, but then this Tiguan also costs considerably less.
You also get a ton of space for your money. The third-row seat standard on front-drive models and optional with 4Motion is best-suited to kids, but it gives the Tiguan something most rivals don’t even offer. Keep in mind, though, that the third row does alter cargo capacity. With it, cargo space is a perfectly average 65.7 cu ft. (all rear seats down) and 33 cu ft. (second row raised) for the segment. Without it, you get 73.5 and 37.6 cu ft., respectively, which is among the best. The trunk floor is effectively lower without the third-row, though it’s always usefully wide and deep.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Honda CR-V — The CR-V is a well-rounded champ. Pick a vehicle aspect, and if it isn’t objectively or subjectively number one, then it’s probably a close second. No compact SUV search would be complete without considering it.
2018 Mazda CX-5 — If you’re expecting the sharp driving dynamics and ritzy interior of Volkswagens past, the Tiguan might be a letdown. If so, look to the fun and surprisingly upscale Mazda CX-5.
2018 Kia Sorento — If the Tiguan’s third-row has caught your eye, and you don’t want an SUV that’s too large, the Sorento might be a good middle ground. It’s also quite sophisticated inside; it’s packed with equipment and boasts a lengthy warranty to rival VW’s.
Used Audi Q5 — The Q5 from VW’s corporate cousin Audi should be a good used-car alternative for those attracted to the Tiguan. It’s smaller inside, and it’ll have less in-car tech, but its quality, luxury, power and overall driving experience should be superior.
We would strongly suggest the SE trim. For not much more than the base model you get accident-avoidance tech, easy-to-clean V-Tex upholstery, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped wheel and the 8-in VW touchscreen, among other desirable extras. The SEL’s extras are mostly just frivolities.