2022 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL R-Line – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Roomy and fun to drive
Photos and Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
It's a sad commentary on the state of cars today to say that this VW Tiguan stands out because it didn't do anything to annoy us. Vehicles have become so over-automated, so complex to operate, that finding one like this VW which the driver still controls - instead of the other way round - becomes something of a triumph. Volkswagen has never been one to follow trendy developments for the sake of matching the competition. That's why VW interiors remain delightfully austere compared to the lavish cabin landscapes other makes have adopted. We loved the subdued look of the R-Line trim level. The headliner is black. The seats are black. The dash is mostly black. About the flashiest elements here are the illuminated front door scuff plates, made of brushed aluminum, and bearing discrete R-Line identification.
The Titan Black leather seats are not festooned with branding marks, nor deviant color stitching. But are they ever comfortable for long stints in the saddle. We drove the Tiguan from the north end of the Bay Area to Monterey Bay in such heavy Veteran's Day traffic that the trip took almost four hours. Not once did we find ourselves squirming in the saddle, needy of a roadside rest break to stretch our limbs. Rather, just the opposite phenomenon occurred. When we finally reached our destination, we were reluctant to park the Tiguan and alight from it because it had become such a comfortable home for the long drive.
If you opt for the SEL R-Line trim level, the Tiguan comes loaded with useful equipment. The improvements start with a set of 20 inch diameter alloy rims fitted with 255/40R20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde all season radials. The headlight nacelles are fitted with an adaptive front lighting system boosted by dynamic cornering lights and "poor weather lights which improve visibility." The exterior mirrors are heated and fold themselves against the windows when you lock the Tiguan. Rain sensing wipers adapt their speed to the quantity of moisture detected. VW even heats the area where the wipers park to ease cold weather operation. Finally, the Tiguan comes with a heated rear window pane and a wiper to clear its surface.
The R-Line perforated leather steering wheel takes a little familiarization because the cruise controls are located on the left spoke. Most manufacturers install this gear on the right side of the wheel. But during our 2 hour stint on the return trip from Monterey, we never used the cruise control once because the Tiguan proved so much fun to drive without any intrusive assistance. On this return trip, freeway traffic was moving unimpeded, with speeds ranging from 80mph in the number 1 lane to 65 mph in the number 3 lane. The Tiguan is rated at just 184hp. So its acceleration times (0-60mph: 9.1 seconds, SS 1/4 mile: 16.9 seconds @83mph) are nothing to write home about. But once underway, the Tiguan's 2.0 liter turbocharged and intercooled 4 cylinder engine produces its peak torque of 221lb.-ft. at just 1900rpm. That behavior makes it easy to stay ahead of freeway traffic, even if you're running hard in the number 1 lane. Although the 8-speed automatic transmission lacks paddles, it's just as easy to slip the console stick into manual mode, then bump the lever forward for downshifts and backward for upshifts. Controlled this way, the Tiguan proved an autobahn champ, able to duck from lane to lane as needed to keep up with the flow of faster traffic. In every way it displayed its confident autobahn upbringing and manners, and proved a delight to control on long drives.
At one point we came upon an original configuration Tiguan, which by comparison to our 2022 model, looked like a circus clown car. It's instructive to realize just how much the Tiguan has grown since its introduction. Back in 2011, the first generation Tiguan measured 179 in. long, 70 in. wide and 59in. high, with a wheelbase of 102in. The 2022 Tiguan has grown 6in. in length, 2in. in width, 7in. in height, and 8in. in wheelbase. What this means is the current Tiguan offers more room than any other small SUV on the market. In fact, it has such an abundance of interior space that VW offers third row seating as an option. In particular, the leg room in the back seat of our two row example allowed us to store an amazing number of travel bags on the floor without resorting to reconfiguring the seating plan one bit. Even bigger is the rear storage area, which adds another 33 cubic feet of storage. So if you're looking to stake a claim to more highway real estate for the buck, lay a cheap ($37,790) claim to this latest VW Tiguan.
2022 VOLKWAGEN TIGUAN 2.0T SEL R-LINE
- ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, intercooled and turbocharged, direct fuel injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 21MPG City/28MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $37,790
HYPES: Storage Locker Size Autobahn Cruiser
GRIPES: Could use an engine displacement increase
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10