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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Review By Larry Nutson

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2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
The only European compact SUV

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Earlier this summer, on the invite of Volkswagen, I drove the new 2018 Tiguan out in the wide-open spaces around the environs of Denver, Colorado as well as in the nearby even higher elevations of the Rockies.

I recently had another, but more typical, test drive with the new Tiguan. This time it was closer to sea-level, in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. VW says the new Tiguan is “The New King of the Concrete Jungle.” Well now I was about to find out how the Tiguan would rule the busy city-street, tight parking spaces, and pock-marked city streets that so many urbanites experience every day.

Volkswagen’s SUV line-up is now focused on three core models. This all-new, second-generation 2018 Tiguan compact SUV that’s longer, has more cargo space and has three-row seating to carry up to seven passengers; the new Atlas mid-size seven-passenger SUV; and the previous generation 5-passenger Tiguan, rebadged as the Tiguan Limited.

The all-new, three-row seven-passenger 2018 Atlas has a starting MSRP of $30,500 for the four-cylinder turbo 2.0L TSI S FWD model, and $31,900 for the 3.6-liter V6 S FWD model.

The 2017 Tiguan Limited 5-passenger compact SUV, based off the original platform, is reconfigured for low complexity and high value and is now offered in one trim with an MSRP of $21,995.

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The new, bigger 2018 Tiguan will be offered in S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium trim levels priced from $25,345 to $36,250 for the front-drive models. VW’s optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive is $1,300 additional on each of the trims.

The three-row seating is standard on the front-drive trims and a $500 option on the all-wheel-drive trims.

Under the hood is VW’s 2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder engine that has been updated, now with 184-HP. There’s plenty of low-end torque, 221 lb-ft, and together with the standard 8-speed automatic the Tiguan performs well.

Around Chicagoland the Tiguan delivered good overall performance with no significant shortcomings in acceleration from stop, merging onto highways as well as passing. Engine noise is well managed and the overall driving experience from inside the cockpit is quite comfortable.

VW’s 4Motion AWD is biased to a front torque split so that power goes to the rear wheels only when needed. This helps keep fuel consumption lower. A console-mounted control allows the selection of four different driving modes--snow, on-road, off-road, and off-road custom.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the front-drive models are 24 combined mpg, with 22 city mpg and 27 highway mpg. The AWD models have the same 27 mpg highway rating and are rated one mpg lower at 21 city mpg. The identical highway mpg ratings illustrate the efficiency of the AWD front torque split.

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For my Chicago drive I was in the SE model with 4Motion AWD that has a base price of $30,230. Overall I got 20 mpg average, just one mpg less than the EPA rating, for my driving that was mostly at slower city speeds with lots of stops and accelerations. I’m not light on the pedal and I like to get where I am going quickly, and safely too. Frequently, time is of the essence.

Longer by 10. 6 inches over the Tiguan Limited, there’s up to 58-percent more cargo space. Despite its increased length, the new Tiguan is easy to maneuver with a smaller turning radius of 37.7 feet. I often need to parallel park during my routine day and the Tiguan is not at all a challenge to park with its good outward visibility and the rear-view camera to help.

Although most SUVs never get off-roaded, the Tiguan is ready with 7.9 inches of ground clearance. The higher ground clearance helps out to keep you going in deep snow. The front bumper is similar to the European model’s off-road package with a 26-degree approach angle and in back there’s a 23-degree departure angle.

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Three-row models max out cargo carrying at 65.7 cu ft, with 33 cu ft behind the second row and 12 cu ft if all rows are upright. Two-row models are slightly more roomy with 73.5 cu ft max and 37.6 cu ft with the second row upright.

The Tiguan is tow-rated at a 1500 lb. braked trailer.

Standard features include a rear view camera, roof rails, LED front and rear lights, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. An R-line package will eventually be available.

Options include 18-, 19- and 20-inch wheels, a large sunroof, power liftgate with hands free opening, and a Fender 480 watt 9-speaker premium audio system.

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A 12.3-inch digital display is available instead of the standard instrument cluster. The hi-res display can store up to four different driver profiles so that personal preferences are easily at hand. The navigation system map can also be displayed in the display for easy viewing.

The new Tiguan offers a full range of driver-assistance safety features that I highly recommend. Front brake assist with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert with braking, lane keep assist, 360-degree camera view, adaptive cruise control, and park distance control with rear braking will all be available.

The new Tiguan is arriving in dealer showrooms now. For more information, features and specs go to

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For that added peace of mind during ownership, the all-new Tiguan, as well as the Atlas, have America’s Best SUV Bumper-to-Bumper Transferable Warranty of 6 years/72,000 miles.

In my view the new Tiguan is well designed and equipped to take on the concrete jungle. It has a nicely performing drive train as well as good ride and handling that is typical of its Germanic heritage. With it’s increased size and good looks the new Tiguan is a good choice for buyers shopping for a roomy compact SUV, whether they be in the urban or suburban concrete jungle.

The ongoing electrification of newly designed vehicles will be interesting to watch. We’ll have to wait and see what direction VW takes to keep a strong presence in the SUV market.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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