Volkswagen has a long-standing penchant for intriguing names—Rabbit, Golf, Jetta, Passat—and Tiguan stays true to that tradition. Easier to pronounce than Touareg, but try finding Tiguan in Webster’s.
That made-up word is affixed to the second generation of VW’s compact SUV, which has undergone a complete makeover to broaden its appeal in an expanding market segment populated by young couples and young families with one or two small kids.
VW’s prescription for this mission: Bigger is better. The new Tiguan is significantly bigger—one might even say dramatically bigger—than the first generation.
The stats: utilizing VW’s modular MQB architecture—a variation of the same structure used for the Golf hatchback—the wheelbase stretches 7.3 inches, to 109.8; overall length extends 10.6 inches, to 185.1; and width expands 1.2 inches, to 72.4. The only dimension that decreases is height, down 0.8 inch to 66.3.
All of this gives the Tiguan a sportier look that is a little more hunkered down and more appealing sheet metal.
The dimensional increase—Tiguan becomes the biggest vehicle in its class—also allowed VW to install a third-row seat, which are standard in front-drive Tiguans and a $500 option with all-wheel drive. This has to do with obscure Federal truck classifications: don’t ask.
Though that third seat will be a little confining for kids, and a very tight squeeze for adult-size people, it gives the Tiguan another distinction—one of the very few vehicles in the class with three-row seating, and the roomiest of them all.
Also, the third-row snugness can be mitigated by adjusting the middle-row seats forward, and mid-ship passengers will be happy to know that the middle seatbacks also recline.
Interior appointments take a step upscale compared to gen one, with higher quality materials, an elegantly simple instrument array (digital in the top SEL Premium trim), and an 8-inch center dash touch screen in all but the basic S trim, where it’s 6.5 inches.
The seats are upholstered in a high-grade leatherette in the first three trim levels (S, SE, SEL), leather in the top model. They’re heated in most trims, and all-day comfortable, though not as supportive as seats in some other VWs. Call it relaxed fit, designed for a vehicle that is unlikely to see much in the way of hard cornering or sporty driving.
Not so fast!
That’s appropriate because this Tiguan isn’t as athletic as the original. Those dimensions add up at the scales—curb weights for the new Tiguan are close to two tons, with all-wheel drive. And while the new chassis has the solid feel we associate with VW vehicles, the suspension tuning is on the soft side. The new eight-speed transmission is a little reluctant to downshift, and the steering isn’t as precise and communicative as that in the original Tiguan, particularly at lower speeds.
In the same vein, the increased mass is propelled by reduced horsepower. The 2.0-liter turbo four in the original Tiguan was rated at 204 hp, whereas the revised engine in the new vehicle huffs up 184.
On the other hand, torque has increased, from 207 pound-feet to 221. That gets the bigger Tig out of the starting blocks with some vigor, but 0-to-60 will probably suffer by at least a half-second, to about 8.2 to 8.4 seconds, depending on trim and all-wheel drive.
On yet another hand, the new Tiguan holds the line on fuel economy, mass notwithstanding—22 mpg city (21 with AWD), 27 highway.
At what price?
Pricing: the first generation drew negative press for its ambitious MSRP schedule, criticism that persisted even after VW knocked the prices down a bit.
The 2018 Tig starts at an attractive $26,245 for a basic S trim, three-row seating, front-wheel drive. But the numbers escalate rapidly. SE, $29,980. SEL, $33,450. SEL Premium, $37,150.
Still, VW’s new Tiguan formula seems to be on target. It’s not as sporty as its predecessor, but it’s got the family bases covered—lots of room, seats for seven, upscale interior appointments, elegant styling.
And for those who preferred the original Tiguan’s more athletic persona, the first generation will continue in production as the Tiguan Limited.
Photo Credit: © 2017 Volkswagen