While the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan is typically considered a compact crossover, but in reality it straddles the line between compact and midsize, offering three rows of seating and a generous cargo capacity. The reclining second-row seats are friendly for adults and children in bulky car seats. The third row is a little cramped, but it should come in handy when it’s your turn to play shuttle driver for the basketball practice.
Commensurate with other VWs, the Tiguan’s interior has an upscale, premium feel — although the actual materials used aren’t necessarily better than those of top rivals from the likes of Toyota, Honda, and Mazda. The fuel economy rates also trail those of rival compact SUVs by a considerable margin. However, the Tiguan’s size, sense of solidity and sophisticated ride set it apart and make it a generally appealing crossover/SUV. For 2020, the Tiguan comes with a 4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty — not quite as generous as the 6-year/72,000-mile warranty VW offered for 2018 and 2019.
What’s New for 2020?
For 2020, the Tiguan gains standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic detection. In addition, all models get the next-generation version of VW’s Car-Net system and Wi-Fi capability. Finally, wireless charging is now available starting on the SE trim.
Also new for 2020 is an SE-version of the R-Line Black trim, which appears to be replacing the SEL R-Line Black trim level offered for 2019.
SEL models add upscale features like a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing wipers. The SEL Premium R-Line gains a new heating element at the base of the windshield to help free wipers stuck in snow and ice as well as the standard R-Line content, and 20-in wheels. See the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan models for sale near you
What We Like
- Abundant passenger and cargo space
- Available third-row seat
- User-friendly technology
- Comfortable and refined ride
What We Don’t
- No more 6-year/72,000-mile warranty
- Below-average fuel economy
- Less agile than top rivals
- Sluggish throttle response
The Tiguan employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, which is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on all but the top trim, while all-wheel drive (called 4Motion) is optional.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), estimated fuel economy with FWD is 22 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg in combined driving. AWD lowers those figures to 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined. The combined-cycle estimates of top rivals are between three and six mpg better, which is significant.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in S, SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL and SEL Premium R-Line trim levels. FWD versions come standard with 7-passenger seating, and the third row is optional on AWD models.
Where it’s not standard, the 4Motion system costs an extra $1,300. It also includes hill-start assist, hill-descent control and selectable modes for snow, on-road and off-road conditions.
The Tiguan S ($25,865) comes standard with 17-in alloy wheels, roof rails, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, automatic climate control, manually adjustable front seats, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth, a USB port, the latest version of VW’s Car-Net smartphone app suite that includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, a 6.5-in infotainment touchscreen, Wi-Fi capability, an AM/FM radio and a 6-speaker audio system. The active safety features previously offered in the Driver Assistance package are now standard on the Tiguan S for 2020, which means that every 2020 Tiguan comes with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.
The SE ($28,015) adds keyless entry/ignition, heated washer nozzles, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats, an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (plus 2-way power lumbar), two additional USB ports (one front, one rear), wireless charging, an 8-in infotainment touchscreen with enhanced functionality and voice controls, a satellite/HD radio, an alarm system and Car-Net Security and Service emergency communications (see Safety section). A panoramic sunroof is optional.
The SE R-Line Black ($31,215) is a new trim for 2020 that adds to the base SE model with 20-in black wheels, black-accented R-Line bumpers, R-Line badging, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, and a black headliner.
The SEL ($33,165) includes the panoramic sunroof and adds 18-in wheels, a powered lift gate, fog lights, remote start, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, adaptive cruise control (operates in stop/go traffic), navigation, front & rear parking sensors, and for 2020, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing wipers.
The SEL Premium R-Line ($39,715) adds AWD, LED headlights with automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, ambient cabin lighting, a hands-free lift gate, power-folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, driver’s-side memory settings, a 40/20/40-split folding back seat, a cargo cover, an automatic parking system, an overhead-view camera system, lane-keeping assistance, active blind spot monitoring, reverse emergency braking and a 9-speaker Fender audio system. The R-Line part of the equation adds 20-in alloy wheels (not great for ride quality) along with the R-Line cosmetic package.
The standard Driver Assistance package includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic warning systems. Lane-keeping assistance and reverse emergency braking join the party starting with the SEL Premium. Car-Net Security and Service also come standard, which includes automatic collision notification and an emergency call button. Every Tiguan comes standard with anti-lock brakes, stability control and front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags.
While the Tiguan earns top marks in IIHS crash testing and scores well for its front crash-prevention system, poor headlight performance keeps it from earning one of the institute’s coveted Top Safety Pick ratings.
Behind the Wheel
The 2020 VW Tiguan is a relatively large, comfort-focused machine. There’s little to encourage the driver, given its sluggish throttle response and numb steering. The Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are considerably more enjoyable to drive, just as quick and more efficient. Yet the Tiguan has the European feel on its side. It moves down the road with a certain sophistication and solidity that’s the hallmarks of a Volkswagen.
The cabin is host to easy-to-use electronics, sensibly placed controls, a decent amount of storage space and the same high-quality switchgear found throughout Volkswagen’s lineup — the plastics and rubbery dash pad look and feel a bit cheap, though. The CR-V and CX-5 are just as dignified inside.
The Tiguan is impressively spacious on the inside. The third-row seating is best-suited for kids, but it gives the Tiguan something most rivals don’t offer. Keep in mind, though, that the Tiguan’s third row does reduce cargo capacity. With it, cargo space is a perfectly average for the segment at 65.7 cu ft. with all rear seats down and 33.0 cu ft. with the second row raised. Without the third row, there’s 73.5 cu ft. and 37.6 cu ft., respectively, which is up there with the best. The trunk floor is usefully wide and deep, and it sits noticeably lower without the third row.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Honda CR-V – A well-rounded segment-leader, the CR-V sits at or near the top of most benchmarks in the compact SUV segment. Anyone in the market for a compact crossover should be sure to check out the CR-V.
2020 Mazda CX-5 – The CX-5 offers a luxury car experience at an economy car price point. A turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine and a diesel engine joined the lineup recently.
2020 Kia Sorento – For buyers seeking a third row in an SUV that still isn’t too large, the reasonably priced midsize Sorento crossover might be a good compromise. It’s also quite sophisticated inside, it’s packed with equipment, and it comes with a better warranty than the VW.
Used Audi Q5 – This premium 5-seater from VW’s corporate cousin could be a good used alternative for those attracted to the Tiguan. The Q5 is smaller inside and will have less in-car technology, but its quality, luxury, power and overall driving experience are superior. Since used German cars tend to have reliability issues, check out Audi‘s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.
VW’s upscale designs and the option of a third row (a rarity in this segment) are the Tiguan’s two main selling points. The SE trim should be the starting point, but we like the extra equipment in the SEL. Buyers looking for comfort items tend to want things like a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control. The R-Line versions are merely superficial. Find a Volkswagen Tiguan for sale