- Sporty handling doesn't come at the expense of a comfortable ride quality (except Sport trim)
- Engine offers punchy turbocharged performance
- Interior materials feel premium
- Cabin is quiet at highway speeds
- Limited cargo space and rear seat legroom
- Subpar fuel economy
- Lackluster crash test results
- No high-tech accident avoidance features available
How does an all-new Volkswagen crossover sound, one that is lighter than the vehicle it replaces, is powered by stronger, more fuel-efficient engines, and has a greater amount of interior space? You get it with the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan ... if you live outside of the United States, that is. Overseas, the Tiguan is new from the ground up, but for now the American Tiguan continues to soldier on, having first been introduced way back in 2009. All of the Tiguan's competitors have been redesigned at least once since then.
Even so, the Tiguan has some good traits. Its premium price point makes it one of the more expensive compact crossovers, but the cost is justified in part by the Tiguan's high-quality cabin materials and peppy turbocharged engine. Volkswagen's latest infotainment system is now standard on every trim level, featuring an intuitive menu structure and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Tiguan is also a pretty decent handler. But from the dated dashboard layout to the lack of the latest safety-oriented driver aids, you definitely get the sense that the Tiguan is getting on in its years.
If something newer or less expensive is more your speed, there is no shortage of appealing alternatives. The Mazda CX-5 hits the mark if you want a sporty SUV that's also roomy and full of high-end features, while the fully redesigned Kia Sportage offers a strong value statement. The Ford Escape boasts several engine choices, including a turbocharged 2.0-liter as the Tiguan does, but it's more fuel-efficient and powerful. Then there's the Honda CR-V, which continues to be one of the best all-round vehicles in the segment. Given the varied strengths of its competition and a new model set for release in the near future, we suggest considering your options before settling on the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, Volkswagen has discontinued the Tiguan's midlevel SE and R-Line trims and replaced them with essentially equivalent Wolfsburg Edition and Sport models. The 6.3-inch touchscreen is now standard, along with VW Car-Net apps and HD and satellite radio.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV that seats five people. It is available in S, Wolfsburg, Sport and SEL trim levels.
Standard equipment on the Tiguan S includes 16-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, heated mirrors, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, heated front seats, a manual height-adjustable driver seat (with power recline), a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a driver information display, a 40/20/40-split sliding and reclining backseat and V-Tex premium vinyl upholstery. Entertainment features include a 6.3-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port, two SD card slots, HD radio, satellite radio and smartphone integration (VW's Car-Net App-Connect that features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink).
The Wolfsburg Edition adds 17-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, silver roof rails, additional power driver seat adjustments including power lumbar, a power reclining front passenger seat, and VW Car-Net Security and Service emergency communications
The Sport trim comes with 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, foglights, cornering lights, LED daytime running lights, body-colored exterior panels, a sport-tuned suspension, power-folding mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, additional passenger seat adjustability including power lumbar, driver memory settings, leather upholstery and a navigation system.
The SEL includes all above features (minus the Sport's colored panels), along with 19-inch wheels, an enhanced rearview camera and a premium Fender audio system.
A trailer hitch is the only option available.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
One of the Tiguan's interior highlights is the now standard infotainment system. Its easy-to-master menu layout and controls are among the best in the class, and it even incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. You can even sync two phones via Bluetooth simultaneously, so a pair of passengers can play DJ. The rest of the Tiguan's cabin doesn't look as good as the segment's leaders, however. It definitely lacks the contemporary looks of competitors, but to be fair it's still attractive and restrained in that classic German way, with first-rate materials quality and construction. You also sit pleasingly high and upright in the firm, supportive front seats, which should satisfy those searching for that tall, commanding view of the road ahead.
There is an abundance of headroom all around, but rear occupants will find their legs a little more pinched (especially with taller folks up front) than they would in most rivals. The reclining rear seat is certainly welcome, as is its sliding functionality that allows you to bring kids a little closer to the front or free up more cargo space.
That last bit is key, though, because there isn't that much cargo space available for the segment. Even with the seats slid forward, there are only 23.8 cubic feet available — an average-sized competitor such as the Mazda CX-5 has 34 cubes. Putting the rear seats down yields only 56.1 cubic feet, making it one of the smallest compact crossovers. It's barely more capacious than subcompact SUVs like the Jeep Renegade.
The Tiguan comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Unlike most competitors, there are no accident avoidance technology features available. VW Car-Net Safety and Security is standard on the Wolfsburg Edition and above, and includes automatic crash notification, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers).
In government crash testing, the Tiguan received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with three stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tiguan its top rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact and roof strength crash tests, but in the small-overlap front-impact test, the Tiguan received a Marginal rating (second worst).
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan is only available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. All-wheel drive is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, a front-wheel-drive Tiguan accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is a quick time for a compact crossover.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for city/highway is 20/24 mpg regardless of whether you get front- or all-wheel drive, though the combined estimates do vary slightly: 22 mpg with FWD and 21 mpg with AWD. These are considerably lower than the base four-cylinders of competitors.
We're impressed by the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan's 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's plenty powerful for commuting and passing on a highway, and its six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. Unfortunately, it's the only engine available. We're guessing many shoppers would happily trade some of its power for fuel economy figures closer to those of base four-cylinders offered by its rivals.
The standard Tiguan feels secure but not particularly athletic when you're driving around turns. Still, there's plenty of poise, which is remarkable given how smoothly and quietly this VW rides. The Sport upsets that equilibrium a bit, thanks to firmer suspension tuning and larger wheels that transmit additional impact harshness into the cabin. In general, though, the Tiguan provides an enjoyable driving experience.
The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan is worth checking out if you want your compact crossover to be rewarding to drive. But be aware that it comes up short in many key areas compared to top rivals.