2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL W/4Motion Review - Crossover Done Well

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL w/ 4Motion

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (184 horsepower @ 4,400 rpm; 221 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
21 city / 27 highway / 23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
11.3 city, 8.8 highway, 10.2 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$33,850 (U.S) / $39,175 (Canada)
As Tested
$35,545 (U.S.) / $43,340 (Canada)
Prices include $900 destination charge in the United States and $1,795 (up to $2,495) for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2018 volkswagen tiguan sel w 4motion review crossover done well

Many crossovers are really just tall wagons, and the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan looks the part. It has a boxy overall shape with angles and curves mixed in. Drop its ride height, and it’s a wagon.

Fine. That’s sort of the point – crossovers promise the utility of wagons with a taller seating position. We’ve been over this before.

Getting a crossover to stand out requires a little extra effort, beyond just being a tall wagon. In the case of the Tiguan, Volkswagen remembered that it’s the same company that makes the Golf/Golf GTI, and has the MQB platform available for use in underpinning its compact crossover. Unlike the larger, bulkier Atlas, which also shares the platform but is tuned for comfort – the Tiguan makes better use of the sportier aspects of its platform.

I credit light and lively steering for some of this. Yes, light steering is usually lambasted as being a detriment, mostly due to lack of feel, but it works here, and it’s just heavy enough to remind you of its connection to the road.

The Tiguan weighs nearly two tons with all-wheel drive, yet manages to feel light on its feet, at least relative to other crossovers of its size. Credit the front strut-type and rear multi-link suspension. There is some body roll, however — something you might expect from what’s essentially a tall wagon.

Volkswagen doesn’t sacrifice too much ride comfort for spryness, but it’s not completely smooth sailing, either. Too much is a key phrase, here – there is some sacrifice. Just not a lot.

Asking a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger to haul nearly two tons of curb weight is a dicey proposition, but even with just 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, there’s enough verve on hand for the cut and thrust of the urban jungle. I’d be wary of freeway passing, though. The eight-speed automatic thankfully blends into the background.

Inside is the familiar-by-now Volkswagen cabin ethic – black and simple, with a logical control layout. You get two knobs for audio/infotainment control (thanks, Wolfsburg) along with a large center screen that rests above three large HVAC controls and a row of climate buttons. If you’ve been in any other MQB vehicles in recent times, you’ll feel right at home.

I had no issues with comfort – there’s space aplenty up front and reasonable space for adults in the rear. A larger center console would’ve been nice, though. Rear cargo behind the optional third row is 12 cubic feet, and with the third row down, the measurement is a couple cubic feet lower than what’s offered on the five-seat Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue.

Speaking of the third row, it seems a bit unnecessary and useless in a crossover of this size. As noted above, it cuts into cargo space. Volkswagen will tell you that it gives the Tiguan a leg up over the five-seat crossovers it competes against, but most buyers who want or need a third row are going a size up in class. Five seats is probably just fine at this price point and size.

If the Tiguan tickles your crossover fancy, you have four trims from which to choose – S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. I was sent an SEL with 4Motion all-wheel drive, which has a base price of $33,850. You can scoop up an S for as low as $24,595, and even the SE keeps the base sticker under $30K.

Opting for the SEL with 4Motion snags you all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, all-season rubber, LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps, heated side view mirrors, silver roof rails, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, leatherette seats, rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot monitoring with rear-traffic alert, keyless entry with push-button start, infotainment with navigation and USB ports, Bluetooth, satellite radio, remote power liftgate, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Options were limited to the $295 Habanero Orange paint job and $500 for the third-row seats. The destination fee is $900.

This particular tall wagon is smartly styled, relatively engaging to drive, and well-appointed. The $35K sticker is a bit dear when compared to the CR-V (a loaded Touring starts about $3K less), top-trim Rogue ($2K or so), or the Limited RAV 4 (the Platinum-trimmed RAV4, which lines up against the SEL Premium Tiguan, starts at a tick over $36K).

Sometimes you have to pay more for better. The Tiguan is less boring and bland than the Rogue and it’s a bit bigger than the RAV4 (although the RAV4 boast greater cargo volume). It’s not perfect or cheap, but Volkswagen has a well-built CUV on its hands.

[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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2 of 45 comments
  • Bufguy Bufguy on Sep 18, 2018

    I find the styling of the new Tiguan refreshing with simple creases, nice proportions and trim that accents not overpowers. Contrast it with the snoot and the mawl of the RAV4 or the overwrought tail lights of the CRV...or the cheapness of the Rouge. And no gimmicky "floating roof". VW's design language is very much in keeping with its Teutonic heritage....refreshing and will age well.

  • Matzel Matzel on Oct 08, 2018

    Just bought one of these (2018 Comfortline 4Motion with Panoroof) for the wife last week (East Coast of Canada). That is after car shopping for the better part of two months and comparing: * Tucson (liked it but the 2018 could no longer be had in blue), * Sportage (too cramped for me at 6"2'), * CRV (could not get over the butt fugly interior - who designed this?!), * Rogue (spacious but super boring), * CX5 (most fun to drive but too small and w/o Android Auto - it's 2018 ffs!) * Escape (felt the cheapest out of the whole bunch) The Tiguan is silver white and we quite like its looks. It is not for back road carving or even spirited driving, but it's spacious, feels very well made (actually downright premium compared to the Escape), and the wife wants to drive something that is high off the ground. Personally, I am more of a wagon / hatch / shooting brake kinda guy as evidenced by the fact that I am driving an Outback.

  • El scotto Will this die a dignified and somber death? Sadly I predict a massive collision between greed, venality, and stupidity to occur. Huge Additional Dealer Markups (ADM)? Of course. Flippers will pay the ADM. Those paying the flippers over the ADM will smugly confirm "they know what they've got". The last owner not realizing that in 20 years their target "Last V-8 Camaro" audience will be between 70 and Dead.Mid-engine Corvette? Just get a Porsche or a Lotus and be done with it. Whatever LS they put in the Camaro might be seen in Silverados which will be sold at a higher profit.Hemi-powered Challengers and Chargers are dead. Well, OK after 18, 484 special editions. Hemi-powered Rams? Not too many buy a second one.Ford will double down on stupidity by raising MSRPs on every Mustang and Ford dealers will ask serious money for a non-serious car. Once Mustangs get expensive enough people will drive performance Japanese and German iron and like it. Three truly sad and ignoble deaths for cars once coveted by the jeans jacket, domestic beer, and Aerosmith t-shirts set.
  • CoastieLenn So the Camaro is getting the axe, the Challenger is belly up, the Charger is also fading out of existence. Maaaaan Michigan better have a game plan on how to inject some soul back into the American carscape. The Mustang and Corvette can't do it on their own. Dark times we're living in, bro's. How long do you think it'll be before the US starts to backpedal on our EV mandates now that the EU has rolled back their ICE bans with synthetic fuel usage?
  • Duke Woolworth We have old school Chevrolet Bolts, only feasible to charge at home because they are so slow. Travel? Fly or rent luxury.
  • Styles I had a PHEV, and used to charge at home on a standard 3-pin plug (240v is standard here in NZ). As my vehicle is a company car I could claim the expense. Now we are between houses and living at the in-laws, and I'm driving a BEV, I'm charging either at work (we have a wall-box, and I'm the only one with an EV), or occasionally at Chargenet stations, again, paid by my employer.
  • Dwford 100% charge at home.