2022 Volkswagen Tiguan First Drive - Changed, Yet the Same

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
2022 volkswagen tiguan first drive changed yet the same

Volkswagen is in the midst of remaking its SUV lineup.

Just in the past few years the company has added a five-seat version of the Atlas – the Atlas Cross Sport – as well as adding the Taos small SUV and the ID.4 EV. Now the venerable Tiguan, which was the veteran of the group, has gone under the knife.

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan doesn’t change much. The exterior is reshaped, with the front end gaining a bit more resemblance to the other SUVs in the lineup and gaining standard LED lighting, an available light-up VW logo/light bar, and R-Line trims get different bumpers and body-color side sills. There are LED taillights out back, and the model-name logo gets re-centered under the VW logo.

There are also new wheel designs across the board.

(Full disclosure: I drove to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to drive the Tiguan and VW fed me and put me up in a nice hotel. If swag was offered, I didn’t see it.)

The biggest changes are on the inside. The Tiguan now has digital gauges standard. VW’s IQ.DRIVE driver-assist system is standard on all but base models. Heated front seats are now standard, and all but the base car get haptic touch controls for the HVAC, which is also available with voice commands. Haptic-touch controls on the steering wheel are also available.

Carrying over is the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder that makes 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. You can choose all-wheel or front-wheel drive, and the transmission is an eight-speed automatic.

The suspension remains strut-type with lower control arms and coil springs, dampers, and an anti-roll bar up front and multilink with coil springs, dampers, and anti-roll bar in back.

On the road, the Tiguan drives mostly as it did before – quietly competent with a hint of sport. Not enough sport to make you think you’re driving a raised GTI, even in Sport mode (should your vehicle be equipped with the available drive modes), but enough to make gentle sweepers relatively fun. There’s just enough personality and engagement here that you’re reminded that crossovers don’t have to be boring, but it’s not as spicy as, say, a Hyundai Kona N or some other skunkworks project.

In other words – if want a package that balances fun to drive with crossover utility, you could do much worse than Tiguan.

The ride was acceptable, though the roads we traversed were some of the few in Southeast Michigan that don’t seem too beat up. In fact, it was the exact same drive route, as far as I could tell, as VW used earlier this year when we sampled the Taos.

Most noise and harshness was well-filtered, with only minor vibrations piercing the cabin. At least when the radio was on – mute the volume and some tire noise pokes through.

Like with most VWs, the steering felt a tad light and artificial yet still offered some sporty feedback when the car was pushed, especially in Sport mode.

That said, I didn’t push super hard – the roads we drove didn’t offer many challenging corners. In fact, I drove both AWD and FWD versions and didn’t notice a huge difference in ride or handling, but again, I didn’t push so hard as to even upset the chassis.

Acceleration from the four-banger is fine – you’ll be happy enough in around-town driving.

I’ve always found the Tiguan to be pleasant, even mildly fun, to drive, and this doesn’t change with the new duds. If I was shopping in this class, I’d put it on the list because it’s just engaging enough to keep boredom at bay.

As for the new style, the Tiguan is handsome, if a tad bland, though it looks a bit less awkward than the previous generation vehicle.

Inside, the cabin is familiar VW. All-black, function prioritized over form, with controls easy to reach and use. The digital gauges – 8-inch screen standard, 10-inch available – are easy to read and adjust, and I had no issues with the haptic-touch controls. Legroom and headroom were fine in both seating rows, though when attempting to access the third seating row, I nearly injured myself, much to the amusement of another journalist who was nearby. The third row, which is only available on FWD cars, is for kids only.

Three-row Tiguans offer 12 cubic feet of cargo space with the third row up, 33 with it down, and 65.3 with both rear rows down. All-wheel-drive Tiguans offer 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the second-row up and 73.4 with it down.

Fuel economy is listed at 23/30/26 for FWD models and 22/29/25 for AWD, with R-Line AWD Tiguans hitting at 21/28/24.

Volkswagen has simplified the trim walk. It’s now S, SE, SE R-Line Black, and SEL R-Line. Pricing starts at $25,995 for an S with FWD and $27,495 for a base car with AWD. D and d is listed at $1,195.

I drove two vehicles and did a ride-along in a base car. The two I drove were an SEL R-Line with all-wheel drive ($36,595) and an FWD SE R-Line Black ($32,295). The base car I rode shotgun was FWD and cost $26,890, including the IQ.DRIVE Package.

Depending on trim, IQ.DRIVE can include forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot monitor, rear-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, travel assist, and emergency assist.

Standard or available features also include keyless entry and starting, dual-zone climate control, cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, wireless phone charging, wireless connections for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, panoramic sunroof, capacitive-touch infotainment screen, navigation, satellite radio, a voice-command assistance system, and Fender audio.

Wheel sizes are 17-, 18-, 19-, or 20-inches.

If you must tow with your Tiguan, you can haul up to 1,500 pounds.

The small crossover class is crowded, and the Tiguan faces tough competition. It’s not quite the all-around package offered by the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V or even Nissan’s newest Rogue, and it doesn’t offer the off-road ability of the Ford Bronco Sport or certain Jeep Cherokee trims. Nor does it feel quite as refined as the Hyundai Tucson. But it’s at least as fun to drive, if not more so, than Ford’s Escape – and the Escape-based Bronco Sport. Though perhaps not as fun as Mazda’s zoomy CX-5.

It’s more engaging than blandsville crossovers like the Chevy Equinox, and the digital tech looks impressive, even if I worry about post-warranty repair costs.

If you care about your crossover being even remotely fun to drive and/or if digital tech looks cool to you, the refreshed Tiguan should be on your shopping list. It’s not a jack of all trades like the RAV4, but it doesn’t give up much in the way of utility in its pursuit of fun. Plus it offers a third row, which many in this class don’t.

That previous paragraph is pretty close to what I’d have said about the previous Tiguan, minus the digital tech stuff. The more things change, the more … well, you know.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Join the conversation
2 of 43 comments
  • Whatnext Whatnext on Sep 09, 2021

    Is VW pushing to have the dullest looking SUV line-up ever? Each of the three plodgy models looks the same just in different sizes and it is not that exciting a look to begin with. There going to find themselves with the same BORING label Toyota was stuck with a few years ago.

  • Tylanner Tylanner on Sep 10, 2021

    VW is close to completing their reverse engineering of the 2013 BMW X5M with less than half the horsepower...but there are worse models to copy.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.