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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan


By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


This is the first year for the VW Tiguan, a compact CUV taking style cues from its bigger sibling, the Touareg. The huge panoramic sunroof and turbo engine are what sets this vehicle apart from its very competitive class. Also, the touch-screen navigation system is easy to use and allows direct connection to USB flash drives.

I drove a 4-door 2009 VW Tiguan SE with a 2.0-liter turbo-charged 200-horsepower engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD). It was loaded with the DVD navigation with rear backup system ($1,950); the power panoramic sunroof ($1,300); and ride-side restraints ($350) for a total vehicle price of $33,165.

When it comes to additional features, packages, options, or whatever car makers are calling the extras, my opinion to do without (ie. steering wheel audio controls; automatic liftgates; 8-way power seating) is backed by the fact much of what you are paying for now will be standard in the near future. I've always felt spend more on safety – but I do have one frivolous exception: the sunroof. And the Tiguan clearly has an amazing one with the panoramic sunroof offers 13 square feet of open space and a pull shade.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: There's no doubt the vehicle possesses that special VW vibe that's says European and sporty. And the Tiguan offers 8-way partial power, heated seating for both the driver and passenger with lumbar support as standard features. But the CLIMATIC or single-zone air conditioning system offers limited choices for adjusting air control – the vents don't angle well and blast you out. The Tiguan stands out from the competition due to its huge panoramic sunroof, which dispels a sense of feeling crowded inside this smaller car (but waffles at high speeds resulting in a lot of inside noise). The seating was stiff without the lumbar support; although secure, it wasn't outstanding.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Several times the audio volume controls didn't work. A definite plus is VW has a no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program – all its scheduled check-ups are covered by the 3 year/36,000 miles warranty. Synthetic oil is used so a 5,000-mile oil change is no longer necessary.

Cost Issues: The price tag of $33,165 sits about in the middle of compact sporty CUVs. However, the center console and steering wheel controls weren't as dazzling as some of the brands and models it competes with, like the Ford Escape or Subaru Impreza. For about $4,000 more, you can step up to better features with a luxury brand like an Acura RDX turbo; for $3,000 less, you can get it's interior equivalent, a Honda CR-V (no turbo and better gas mileage).

Activity & Performance Ability: The 4-cylinder turbo engine was responsive and peppy, which does give any smaller vehicle a sense of superiority over others of the same size. It's important to keep in mind it not just VWs that are fun to drive – it's vehicles with turbo engines. The Tiguan has good road grip, responsive brakes, and low engine noise, but you might want to think if you really need AWD or a turbo.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy on a turbo with AWD is always an issue and premium gas is recommended The Tiguan claims 18-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. At 65-mph on the highway in flowing traffic (no braking), I achieved an average of 21-mpg and around 16-mpg in slower town traffic.

Make sure you get inside two or three other compact CUVs and are able to make peace with some of the Tiguan's lackluster center console and steering wheel interior features, along with the premium fuel-hungry turbo engine, before the VW brand (and it's panoramic sunroof) sells you.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
Katrina's 2010 and 2009 Model Reviews For Women Drivers
Katrina's 2008 Model Reviews For Women Drivers

2008 Katrina Ramser