The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is a late entrant to the small SUV segment, but it has grabbed critics' attention. Some critics rank it among the best-looking small SUVs. As Frank Williams of TheTruthAboutCars.com points out, "Park it next to a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V and the Tiguan looks like an Armani suit on a rack next to Men's Wearhouse's best." Others are less impressed, though. Jeff Sabatini of the Wall Street Journal dismisses the Tiguan's styling as "generic looking." Reviews say the five-passenger VW Tiguan is fun to drive -- it "handles better than you'd expect for a tall wagon," says TheTruthAboutCars.com's Williams -- and has a luxurious, nicely designed interior. The Wall Street Journal's Sabatini is a dissenter on the matter of driving fun, however, saying that the VW Tiguan's center of gravity feels as if it's at "chin-level."
Front-wheel drive is standard, with VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system available at additional cost. The Volkswagen Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 200 horsepower, which places it squarely in the middle among other small SUVs. It delivers more base power than competing small SUVs' base engines, but less than the upper-level optional engines available in the likes of the Subaru Forester (*est. 19,995 to $28,195) and Toyota RAV4 (*est. $21,500 to $27,810). It can be optioned with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The Tiguan can tow up to 2,200 pounds.
In Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing, fuel-economy scores for the Tiguan ranged from a low of 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for all-wheel-drive models to a high of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for front-wheel-drive models with the manual transmission. These scores are at best average for the segment. A similar all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Subaru Forester with an automatic transmission earns fuel-economy ratings of 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway while putting an additional 24 horsepower at the driver's disposal. The Volkswagen Tiguan also requires premium-grade gasoline.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction control and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags. Side airbags for rear passengers are an available option. While the VW Tiguan has yet to be subjected to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, it aced the independent tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning a 2009 Top Safety Pick designation.
Reviewer complaints, beyond the car's goofy, invented name (it's a cross between "tiger" and "iguana" -- seriously), center on the Volkswagen Tiguan's lofty price and mediocre fuel economy. Editors at Motor Trend find the Tiguan's electric steering too light at low speeds. A few reviewers complain of noticeable turbo lag, and others claim that it is short on cargo room in a segment where the leading small SUVs let you pile in plenty of stuff. Jared Gall of Car and Driver complains that the Tiguan "suffers from a typical Volkswagen clutch--too light and vague for our taste."
Since the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan is a new model, there are plenty of good reviews to refer to. Motor Trend subjected the Tiguan to a comparison test with other small turbocharged SUVs. Edmunds.com provided a detailed review covering all aspects in-depth with comparisons to the class leaders. Edmunds' enthusiast site, Inside Line, includes the Tiguan in a comparison against the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Quality single-car reviews can be found at TheTruthAboutCars.com, The Wall Street Journal, ConsumerGuide.com, MotherProof.com and CNET among others.
1. Motor Trend
Motor Trend tests three highly optioned, turbocharged compact SUVs in this test. Although the Tiguan places third in this test, editors claim it is a great first effort at a compact SUV by Volkswagen, and editors note that the Tiguan has the nicest interior of the test group. They like the way the Tiguan rides, but feel the electric steering feels too light at low speeds. The Tiguan is the heaviest and slowest of the test pack, but editors still rave about the turbocharged VW engine.
2. Edmunds Inside Line
Inside Line pits the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan against the 2008 Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 in a comparison test. The Tiguan winds up in a second-place tie with the Honda behind the RAV4, which does everything well. The VW is the best handler of the group as well as the most stylish, but it's not as versatile and practical as the two Japanese entrants.
Review: http://www.edmunds.com/volkswagen/tiguan/2009/, Jason Kavanagh, Sept. 14, 2008
Edmunds.com describes the Volkswagen Tiguan as having a neat European design and a high-grade interior. It handles and rides well. While it might appeal to the VW faithful, the Tiguan's high price tag, small cargo capacity and low tow rating may make shoppers looking for better small SUV value look elsewhere.
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Review, Editors of Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com's Warren Clarke tests an all-wheel-drive 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL with 4Motion, finding it to have great road manners, a capable engine and intuitive controls. The turbocharged engine and electric steering presented some challenges, however, as there were issues relating to power surge and steering feedback.
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Road Test Review, Warren Clarke
TheTruthAboutCars.com can be relied upon for candid feedback on the cars its reviewers drive. Frank Williams drives an all-wheel-drive 2009 VW Tiguan SE and summarizes that it's a "cute, fun to drive and comfortable" small SUV, but these positives come at the expense of unimpressive fuel economy and pricing that's likely to send some car shoppers looking elsewhere for better value.
Review: 2009 VW Tiguan SE 4Motion Review, Frank Williams, Sept. 10, 2008
6. The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal's Jeff Sabatini doesn't mince any words when it comes to the VW Tiguan. He calls the styling "homely," and criticizes the small SUVs rough ride and "chin-level" center of gravity. He goes on to conclude that Volkswagen's two station wagon offerings -- the Jetta Sportwagen (*est. $19,075 to $23,870) and Passat Wagon (*est. $29,690) -- offer more practicality, driving enjoyment and value.
Review: Volkswagen's Mini-Me SUV, Jeff Sabatini, July 25, 2008
7. Car and Driver
Writer Jared Gall finds the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan handles quite well, exhibiting only a small amount of body roll. Engine power in VW's compact SUV is described as being ample, although turbo lag (http://autorepair.about.com/library/glossary/bldef-389.htm) is noticeable. Gall isn't crazy about the light clutch effort he experienced in the tester (it had a manual transmission).
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan - Short Take Road Test, Jared Gall, May 2008
8. New Car Test Drive
Reviewer Kirk Bell calls the Tiguan the "GTI of crossovers," based on its excellent performance during his test drive. Bell admires the Tiguan's powerful engine and the available manual transmission. The interior earns praise as well, with a solid quality feel to it. Cargo room is lacking, though; it falls short of most competitors in the small SUV segment.
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, Kirk Bell
MotherProof.com's Sherrice Gilsbach tests a 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan during the busy holiday season, when winter conditions included snow, sleet and rain. The Tiguan provides enough cargo space for her shopping needs, including a Christmas tree, and the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system handles inclement weather with no issues. She laments the small SUV's lack of a remote control feature to close the liftgate, but finds the navigation system with rear backup camera to be an unexpected help. Ultimately, her verdict is that the VW Tiguan is fun to drive and cute.
Review: VW Tiguan Triumphs Over Wintery Weather, Sherrice Gilsbach, Dec. 2008
ConsumerGuide.com praises the Volkswagen Tiguan's firm and stable ride, the quality of interior materials, and passenger room. It's deemed a 2009 Best Buy despite its higher price compared to the rest of the compact SUV class.
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com
ConsumerReports.org tests almost every car on the market, including the Volkswagen Tiguan. Editors evaluate tested vehicles in terms of predicted reliability, based on past-model-year reader-survey data. Analysis focuses mainly on reliability, ride quality, handling and safety.
Review: Volkswagen Tiguan, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Auto Channel writer Steve Purdy describes the Tiguan as a slick newcomer to the compact SUV field, saying the Tiguan's styling is clean and attractive outside, with a well-executed interior. Purdy mentions liking the gentle, fading power approach VW's engineers designed into the Tiguan's engine RPM limiter, compared to harsher stop-engine type rev limiters he has experienced in other cars.
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Review, Steve Purdy, May 2008
CNET's editors focus on vehicles' technology features. Reviewer Antuan Goodwin tests the Volkswagen Tiguan S (the base level offered), which unfortunately lacks many high-tech options. Goodwin calls the Tiguan's interior dull, and he condemns the standard audio system, which offers neither iPod nor USB support. Satellite radio and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity are also absent. Goodwin concludes that technophiles should look to higher trim-levels of the Tiguan for more features.
Review: 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan S, Antuan Goodwin and Wayne Cunningham, Sept. 10, 2008