Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan

It can be hard to explain America and Americans to Europeans. “What is a Big Gulp?” they’ll ask. Or, “You know American cheese isn’t cheese, right?” And always, inexplicably: “Have you ever been to Texas?” But the brass at Volkswagen’s Virginia offices seem to have finally succeeded in communicating at least one of our national beliefs to their German overlords: Bigger is better. And so, as the Volkswagen Tiguan enters its second generation, it has been stretched by nearly a foot so that it can accommodate either a lot more cargo or a third row, depending on your needs. It also has been redesigned to match the brawny, squarish look of Volkswagen’s new halo SUV, the monstrous Atlas, which was designed to match the brawny, squarish look of red-blooded American SUVs.

All that’s missing is a powertrain to match; despite inflating the Tiguan’s body, VW has implanted a new, less powerful heart in its engine bay, which can’t match the refinement or acceleration we enjoyed in the last generation. Ah, well. Even in America, you can’t have it all.

What’s New for 2018?

The Tiguan is fresh from the ground up for 2018, with a stretched body, a new powertrain, and a compelling new design. The refresh is hit or miss, with a new face, a well-executed interior, and a pillowy ride marking the high points and an unenthusiastic powertrain representing the major fumble. Volkswagen hasn’t quite gone all in with this new Tiguan yet; the previous generation lives on, unchanged, through at least the 2018 model year as the Tiguan Limited. That being the case, we don’t devote any space to that model in this review, but it’s still available to drivers who prefer things the way they were. For a review of the previous Tiguan, which magically transformed into the Tiguan Limited.

Options We’d Choose

Every Tiguan comes with the same 184-hp turbocharged inline-four and eight-speed automatic transmission. We’d choose the all-wheel-drive model because it feels marginally more stable driving over rough pavement and didn’t give up any ground to the front-drive model in our real-world fuel-economy test. Be advised, however, that it does give up a significant amount of acceleration to its front-drive sibling. The base Tiguan S feels a little empty and misses out on upgrades such as the attractive new infotainment system, so we’d step up to the SE trim with 4Motion all-wheel drive, starting at $28,950. That model includes:

• An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
• Blind-spot monitoring
• Ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support

We’d skip the available third row because it decreases cargo space, but if extra seating is imperative, it can be had for $500.

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