By on September 17, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

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.

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.


2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

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.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

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.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

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.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

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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45 Comments on “2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL w/4Motion Review – Crossover Done Well...”

  • avatar

    From reviews I’ve seen, the honda and Subarus stall out in tough AWD situations, their engine just stall g while drivers beg.
    The cvts and engines don’t have the power to do get it done.

    Although this 4 is somewhat underpowered for the car, it still has the transmission and power.

    • 0 avatar

      Those jokers at TFLcar on youtube would certainly have you believe Subaru AWD is total garbage. Subaru still offers a great all-rounder AWD system, but everyone else pretty much caught up making it less of a stand-out. Kill a morning watching “Diagonal Tests” videos of various AWD systems, fun! (the CrossTrek has trouble on this test, but jeez, that thing can barely get out of it’s own way on a flat dry road)

      A Forester or Outback will still make easy work of some nasty forest roads thanks to AWD and 8.5″ of clearance, something still lacking on most other CUV (and some trucks for that matter). Anyone hardcore rock crawling or hill-climbing in their Subaru or Tiguan is…doing it wrong anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        well, didn’t mean to disturb you so.
        but you missed my point.
        i, to be honest, love the subie awd system, as well as the audi and a few others.
        that was not my point.
        it was their engines and cvts.
        if that doesn’t seem fair to you, so be it.

      • 0 avatar

        The newer CVT Subies definitely seem to have an issue with transferring torque to the wheels in hillclimb situations or when they have to climb over a small ledge on the trail. People lambasted the old 4EATs, but they were reliable and actually pretty robust and decent for light offroading.

    • 0 avatar

      I noticed that my wife’s Outback w/CVT had issues climbing the rough stuff. Then I learned to shut off the traction-control (which is pretty much for lousy weather roadway driving anyway). Problem solved, works fine, no stalling out as with the traction-control online. As others have noted, if you want to do serious and challenging off-roading one needs to use a vehicle specifically marketed for the purpose.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I really like this. I do. I love the rectilinear styling and the level of care that was put into its build quality. There are a couple of minor annoyances:

    1. To get non-halogen headlights, you have to opt for the SEL Premium. Which at the time was going for $36K. Seriously?

    2. 184 horsepower isn’t a whole lot, nor is this one nearly as performance-oriented as the old Tiguan. So why can’t it crest 30 MPG? The CR-V gets 34 highway. Granted, that’s with a smaller engine, but I think they could have done better. Unless they significantly underrated it due to the diesel scandal and not wanting to be sued.

    Also, note: 4MOTION versions don’t have the third row standard. It’s a $500 option. Through some weird regulation loophole, FWD models require the third row in order to be classified as a light truck, but the AWD models don’t. So if you opt for 4MOTION, you can forego the vestigal rear seats.

    • 0 avatar

      Similar minor annoyances drove my wife and I to the CR-V just about a month ago. We love the styling of the Tiguan but the way it’s packaged against rivals makes little sense. To get the options important to us, we would have required the SEL Premium Tiguan, but only the EX-L CR-V for significantly less money.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the explanation, I wondered why they won’t sell one with two rows and FWD. I have no need for a third row or AWD, so the Tiguan was knocked off the list. I should have guessed it was some silly regulation. I wish the Trumpster would direct the EPA to dispose of the silly car vs truck rules that skew the vehicle selection available in the US.

  • avatar

    No one is cross-shopping a Tiguan and a new/cpo Q3. So VW should find the extra $125 and put some warm, luxury touches in the interior.

    The pics make the Tiguan look like a dark ages penalty box

  • avatar

    VW offers a much nicer 235hp/258tq 2.0t on the Atlas and I’m not sure why it isn’t being equipped in the Tiguan. The EPA MPG ratings are even the same between the two so it isn’t a CAFE thing.

    Really VW could get away with just 3 engines here in the US:
    147hp/184tq 1.4T for the Jetta, JSW, and Golf.
    235hp/259tq 2.0T for the Atlas, Tiguan, Passat, GTI, and Alltrack.
    306hp/295tq 2.0T in Golf R and Areton.

    • 0 avatar

      i keep hearing great things about the turbo atlas, but like with the Accent, i am worried about such small engines in the larger suvs.
      heck, i’m not sure about the ecoboosted edge, although everybody loves the twin scroll turbo in it.

      ditto the cx9 long term.

      • 0 avatar

        I really thought the 2.0T in my rental Edge was very decent to drive, I mistakenly thought it had the larger 2.3T until I was looking at specs after the fact. It’s no V6 when you get on it, but around down and under half-throttle sorts of acceleration it serves up gobs of satisfying torque. MPG is a mixed bag, initially going around the 465 beltway in Indy I was easily getting 30 mpg with a light foot, but once underway at sustained speeds of 70-75mph and some hills mpg went down to 24 or so.

  • avatar

    1) Another CUV (on way to peak CUV). Check.

    2) Indistinguishable from nearly every other CUV in its segment, from Chinese made and exported Buick Invasions to BMWs to Acuras to Hyundais. Check.

    3) Yet another hamster wheel-boosted 4-banger pushing a well over 4,000 pounds (closer to 4,600 pounds with one or two people and “stuff on board”) lump of steel and plastics. Check.

    4) A MSRP that could have gotten a MUCH better, more refined vehicle just 5 years ago. Check. *Thanks LMAO 2% inflation as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – LMFAO. BLS should stand for Bureau of Lies & Shysterism.

  • avatar

    This Tiguan wasn’t so much styled as it was perpetrated. Who designed this thing, Frank Lloyd Wrong? The belt line is too high. From the side, the top and bottom halves look as if they’re from two different cars. I’ll give them credit for not using an opera window for the tailgate like the RAV4 and others, but the mail slot side windows kill the flow. The front end screams “Ford!” while the side view looks like a chopped four door Rabbit. Nein, danke.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree with you that it looks like a mismash of two or three designs and the proportions don’t work from any angle. The Jetta is even worse. Don’t have faith in the design direction VW is going in. The old Tiguan was an attractive design until the end.

  • avatar

    2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (184 horsepower @ 4,400 rpm; 221 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm)

    Oy I’ll bet a 2.0 T AWD Terrain could walk this thing in stoplight drag race. That horsepower number is close to the NA 2.5 in my wife’s 1st gen Terrain.

  • avatar

    It’s light on its feet because it has suspension! It’s interior is black and dour but smartly so! Freeway passers be forewarned! Man oh man, it’s gonna be a long winter without Jack here.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah these stupid reviews are sounding more and more like press releases. I get better coverage watching select YouTube reviewers and (gasp) looking at Car and Drivers website.

      • 0 avatar

        “Credit the front strut-type and rear multi-link suspension.” Yeah, exactly the same as oooh, let’s see, CR-V, RAV4, Rogue, Forester, CX-5, Escape, Cherokee and probably GM. Completely unique, this VW. Well done Mr Healey for writing absolute pap.

        I’ll fill in the missing details about the engine. This Tiguan is equipped with VW’s latest “we missed the bus majorly” Brudack cycle engine. It is an an exercise in how to take a nice 2.0t from the GTI and ruin it by screwing on a head and cam design from some whingding Hungarian inventor. The same crap engine features on base Audi A3 and A4 models.

        VW would have you believe that it is incredibly efficient. It is not. And it coughs its guts out beyond 4500rpm while being coarse and rough below. Meanwhile The 1.5t in the CR-V hauls that similarly lardy vehicle a half second quicker to 60 and gets about 4 mpg better average economy. Reading TTAC, you’d never know that. Reading C/D, you would. The reason to avoid the new Tiguan is the crappy engine.

        Totally bereft of its original reason for being, TTAC cannot even aspire to put its hat on straight, let alone provide any decent commentary in an actual “road test”. In the modified words of Monty Python, it is a dead parrot – bereft of life. If management hadn’t nailed its feet to the perch it’d be pushing up daisies by now.

        Has Healey ever written a decent road test? Not a single one I can remember. Not one. His oversight of the staff who regard themselves as snark stars without information backup or even capability for decent prose is apparently zero.

        Add to that, Healey is without grace or common decency or manners. No send off for Baruth for ten years of faithful service. Not a peep. I regard Baruth as a social lout with whacked out ideas, but the man can write extremely well, and when it came to wringing out cars and telling us all about the experience, the whys and wherefores, not a soul is better anywhere. No shrinking violet he. And this dull-as-dishwater website couldn’t even recognize that his leaving wrote the death sentence for the place.

        These days TTAC has lost any reason for being. Useless reviews, regurgitated “news” stuff you can get from source through Daily Kanban before crawling to TTAC to read turgid prose semi-rewritten by second-raters dim enough to think of themselves as first rank. And real reasoned criticism of cars or industry? What’s that? Unknown here.

        Used to be I couldn’t wait to see what TTAC had for articles that day. I’d be on it from mid-morning. Now I wait till after supper I’m so damn excited, and skip the stuff I already know. Who needs Posky’s idiotic take on things as varied as Chinese medicine or how Europe runs, all pulled out of his left earhole? Or Willems’ obduracy about the Mazda SkyActiv X engine having sparkless ignition when it relies on it. When you’re dumb enough to not be well-read, undereducated enough to not understand what is placed in front of you, you truly end up with people who don’t understand what they do not understand. Which is just about everything.

        Dead as a doornail and on borrowed time, this site is a mere shell of its former self and really has no need to exist. It has no USP. It is the very realization of mediocrity.

      • 0 avatar

        Principal Dan – Agreed.

    • 0 avatar

      Sad to say but this was my impression of reading the piece as well. If I want light, positive sounding reviews, no one does it better than my man John Davis at motorweek.

      • 0 avatar

        You know who I’m really digging right now is “TheTopher” and his binaural audio reviews from the driver’s seat. Put your headphones on and you’d swear you were in the car with him.

        The only distraction is the times when he starts to sound like the narrator on the old “Mutual of Omaha’s WILD KINGDOM” from my childhood. (soothing just above a whisper) – “Here we see the majestic cheetah lying in the grass waiting on the herd to let its guard down…”

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Agreed. I blame the Germans for the austere all black instrument panels that we are uniformly saddled with. Bring back ‘brougham’ colour coded panels with trim.

          Thanks for the Wild Kingdom reference. Marlon spent most of the time in a safari suit, sipping martinis and providing commentary, while Jim was out in some forest/jungle/swamp wrestling wild animals.

          • 0 avatar

            I remember watching Wild Kingdom on Sunday evenings as a kid. Jim did get the short end of the stick more often than not. If there was a baby koala bear or something then Marlin would be happy to regale us with his vast knowledge while holding the creature. The rest of the time he narrated…”Jim’s going into the cave to capture the wounded cougar” or “The rabid wolverine might be frightened, Jim will have to use caution”.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      “Freeway passers,” really?!! On a freeway, you can pass someone if your steed is capable of going 2 mph faster than the vehicle you want to pass, as semi truckers on I-81 through the Shenandoah Valley demonstrate as they repeatedly pass each other while bumping up against a speed governor (while the rest of us “4-wheelers” wait not-so-patiently behind.

      The real issue for passing is on a two-lane, where you want to minimize the time you’re in the oncoming lane, not on a freeway. Perhaps the author was thinking “freeway entrance ramps” and it somehow came out as “freeway passing.”

      The word “thoughtless” comes to mind after reading this review. Did the author actually read what he wrote; did anyone else before posting?

      Alex Dykes may be bland, but at least he’s thorough. And he does comparisons. Why should I consider this car over a RAV4, a CR-V or an Escape?

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    We test drove one, the SEL Premium,it had a nice quiet ride, accurate steering, but was really pokey. I wonder if 91 octane would wake it up some. I suppose APR type reflashes are available. I didn’t compare to the CRV, but I did to the pre-refresh V6 RDX. I thought the Tig had a nicer interior,with the exception of way too light tan leather-almost white- with the only other options being black or orange.
    I see quite a few of these, so someone must find the styling to their liking.Not to mention a 72k mile bumper to bumper warranty on a German engineered product.

  • avatar

    Despite its clever ads, the Tiguan leaves me cold. I wish VW brought the latest gen Touareg over here.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I think the design is handsome, without any visual gimmicks that will age poorly.

    Disappointed that the good headlights aren’t available across the board. They can’t be that expensive to include….

  • avatar

    Dave M.: +1

  • avatar

    It was smart of VW to just copy the original BMW X5 from 20 years ago. Merkins ate that one up! BTW if you look up wiki for a pic of the original X5, the caption is “BMW (E53) 4.4i wagon.” Yeah, wagon! It’s not a dirty word…

  • avatar

    Tough crowd here. We bought this trim level but in grey last August. Have 36,000 kms from two cross-country trips in only 13 months. Loads of space. Easy to use controls. Safety features. Good mileage. Did I mention space? Yes, the engine is weak and yes, the transmission can be a bit hesitant between 1st and 2nd. But hey, it’s our first VW product and we love it and the dealer. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Congrats. My brother test drove one last month and while he ended up with a completely different vehicle, was impressed with the handling and drivability. The tester was a green SEL premium 4motion. Beautiful car.

      Many years of successful motoring!

  • avatar

    Tim, my boss had one of these and while it was roomy, the seats were hard and after about 15 minutes my butt would be asleep. Same with the Journey. Are the seats softer now, or at least better contoured?

  • avatar

    Here’s what this boils down to in my eyes: a Golf 4Motion wagon with a bigger back seat (plus a basically useless third row) that goes slower, handles worse, and costs ten grand more.

    Not sure why folks buy any of these cars.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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