Not all SUVs will appeal to all people. That’s why automakers, like Volkswagen, build vehicles for a niche group. For those looking for a fun commute and a vehicle that offers utility, the Volkswagen Tiguan could be your ticket to more rewarding drive times. It features a turbo engine, a panoramic sunroof, 6-speed automatic gearbox, and a high seating position.
Get behind the wheel of the Tiguan if you are ready for a sporty commute. We did over the weekend and here is what we found.
What’s New for 2016?
A number of features are now standard across the lineup. The new Tiguan gets heated front seats, V-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, and keyless ignition and entry, all at the starting MSRP. Every Tiguan now features VW’s latest touchscreen tech interface.
Features & Options
The 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion ($36,420) comes standard with heated mirrors, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sliding and reclining backseat, and a 5-inch touchscreen. Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, a USB port, and a media player interface are also available.
The SEL trim also comes with LED running lights, a panoramic sunroof, and a navigation system as standard equipment. SEL also adds special 19-inch wheels, power-folding mirrors, an enhanced rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver seat memory functions, additional passenger seat adjustments like power lumbar, leather upholstery, and an eight-speaker Fender audio system.
Our SEL tester came with the optional trailer hitch, tow and ball mount, and 7-pin adapter plug for towing ($820). Total MSRP including destination: $38,105.
The first thing we noticed after sliding into the Tiguan’s front seats, was the high seating position and the commanding view it affords the driver and passenger. The seats are also supportive and bolstered for more spirited driving. It’s a good indication of VW’s intentions for this small SUV. There’s also additional headroom for taller passengers that’s sometimes missing in this segment.
You’ll find a full compliment of the newest technology and the Fender premium audio system keeps the tunes rolling. Materials and fit and finish are top notch in the Tiguan SEL. The leather heated seats, panoramic sunroof, and dual-zone climate control add to the quality feel. The grand kids were thrilled when we automatically rolled back the sunroof to reveal the full-length view.
In the back, rear passengers will find less legroom especially if the seats are farther back to accommodate taller riders up front. Overall, it’s a great place for the kids, and ours liked that the rear seats reclined to make the ride a bit more comfortable. They also offer a sliding function if you want the kids closer to the front, although we aren’t sure why.
Maybe to expand cargo space?
With the seats slid all the way forward, there’s an ample 23.8 cubic feet, which is about enough for the week’s grocery run. Fold the rear seats down, and you’ll have 56.1 cubic feet, enough to load the dog’s cargo carrier, your camping gear, and a few supplies for the weekend. This tester even came with a tow hitch to haul a small camper or boat.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
All 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan models are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The power plant produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft. of torque, which doesn’t sound like a lot. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. Available all-wheel drive (4Motion) sends power to all four corners – it was included on our SEL tester.
The EPA rates the 4motion Tiguan at 20/26 city/highway and 22 combined mpg. By comparison, the front-wheel drive Tiguan is rated at 21/26 city/highway and 23 combined.
While impressed with the Tiguan’s 200 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, its fuel mileage numbers are the price you pay for a ride that’s higher on the fun-to-drive meter than most other small crossovers. We didn’t get anywhere near the EPA’s estimates, but we couldn’t keep our foot out of the gas long enough to let it breathe. We were also testing it at altitude in Colorado, which skews the numbers.
It’s powerful in just about any driving situation, and the quick steering will enable you to zip around in city traffic easily. We enjoyed the 6-speed automatic’s smooth, quick gear changes over the annoying CVTs in many of the competition’s family haulers.
The ride on the highway was a lot quieter than expected too. Tiguan offers a comfortable, controlled ride and it leaves the driver with a sense of security. In tight mountain corners, the small crossover doesn’t feel like it’s going to roll over, although it’s not a sports SUV. Overall, we would classify the Tiguan’s driving dynamics as enjoyable and certinately more sporty than most other small SUVs.
The 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL AWD offers what most families are looking for in a city commuter. It offers utility, comfort, and a fun-to-drive nature. It does have a smaller cargo area than others in this segment, but it’s more maneuverable in the city, a bonus if that’s where you do most of your driving.
It offers all-weather capability, which is a must in cold climates. And if you can keep your foot out of the gas, it delivers descent fuel mileage.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy