2020 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL 4Motion Review by David Colman
New larger Tiguan is a spacious and practical people mover
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
The upsized 2020 VW Tiguan is more useful in every way than the diminutive SUV of the same name it replaced. The enlarged Tiguan is in fact dimensionally close to VW's departed full-size SUV, the Touareg. That size similarity becomes apparent when you compare the Tiguan to the Touareg in length (185" to 189"), height (66" to 67") and wheelbase (110" to 114"). But despite its increased size, the Tiguan relies on a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine making just 184hp - versus the 280hp V6 that powered the Touareg. It should therefore come as no surprise that the 3,847lb.Tiguan, with a power-to-weight ratio of 20.9lb./hp., lacks the accelerative punch of the Touareg. At a trailer rating of just 1500lbs., it also lacks the 5000lb. towing capacity of the Touareg.
You can circumvent the problem to some degree by judicious use of the Tiguan's sweet 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. If you simply select Drive and leave the gearbox to its own devices, you will find that full speed upshifts occur at 5,900rpm. But since the 221lb.-ft. torque peak occurs at just 4300rpm, you would be well advised to upshift manually at that engine speed for maximum thrust. The gearbox is very compliant in this regard, with its own dedicated manual gate located to the right of the normal array of PRNDL choices. Unfortunately, even on this top line SEL 4Motion model, VW does not provide paddles at the steering wheel to ease your shift burden.
All varieties of the Tiguan model line use the same 184hp engine. So the variations from base model S ($24,945) to SE ($27,095) to SEL ($32,245) involve cosmetics, finish and trim. At each step, an all-wheel-drive 4Motion version is available. On the SEL we tested, this improvement costs an extra $1,300. VW also offers a visually provocative version called the SEL R-Line, which retails for $38,795 in 4Motion trim. This top model uses 8x20 inch diameter alloy rims with 235/45R20 tires, adds Fender acoustics plus a variety of exterior body modifications.
Even without R-Line goodies, our test SEL sported VW's new digital cockpit, which includes a full screen "Navigation View" that can be arranged to depict your route map between the faces of the tach and speedometer. While this display can seem disconcerting at first, it beats scanning the dash to locate the navigation display on the 8" touchscreen. If you opt for the SEL model Tiguan, you will be impressed by its wealth of technology and convenience features. Climatronic dual zone climate control is easy to set and adjust thanks to the inclusion of proper buttons on the dash face. The 10-way adjustable, heated, V-Tex leatherette driver's seat is moderately supportive in lateral maneuvers. The passenger seat is also heated, as is the leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel. VW has thoughtfully provided a single button for heating the steering wheel and the driver seat at the same time. The interior is rather subdued in terms of visual splendor. The industrial grade rubber "Monster Mats" ($92.50) look like they've accidentally been turned upside down.
Our test Tiguan was fitted with 8.5Jx19" five-spoke alloy rims bearing 255/45R19 Pirelli Scorpio Verde all season tires. Due to its rather high center of gravity, the Tiguan tolerates rather modest corner loadings before the Pirellis start to lose adhesion. Rather than handling prowess, this VW is better suited to cargo hauling. The spacious cabin is vast, and especially well lit thanks to a huge, standard panoramic sunroof with a tilt and slide forward section and fixed glass rear section. When you slide this unit open in daylight, the interior illumination level rivals that of an aquarium tank. The spacious impression you get from all the glass is not deceptive. The Tiguan offers 33 cubic feet of cargo space, just 1.5 cubic feet less than the Touareg.
The 2020 Tiguan has morphed into a well appointed, practical transportation device for 5 with enough storage and comfort to make long trips not only feasible but fun. While it may fall short of sporting performance, it leaves its indelible mark high on the practicality scale.
2020 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN 2.0T SEL 4MOTION
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, turbocharged, DOHC, 16 valve, direct injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 20MPG City/27MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $34,657
HYPES: Affordable SEL Grade is Fully Equipped
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10