2022 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SE – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
There seems to be a general disagreement in the motoring press about VW's latest version of the Tiguan SUV. Car & Driver rates it an enthusiastic third best in the small SUV class, behind only the Mazda CX-50 and CX-5. Consumer Reports, however, makes a distinctly different appraisal, allotting it just 55 points on a rating scale of 100, an evaluation which places it behind 23 more preferable small SUVs.
So which is it? Is the mildly revamped 2022 Tiguan a superior product - a "European take on an American classic, with plenty of trendy technology features," to quote C&D. Or does CR's evaluation that "acceleration is ultimately slow: It takes more than 10 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop" more pertinent? In the final analysis, the lovely looking Kings Red Metallic Tiguan we tested for a week showed both sides of its personality, scoring points for good exterior design and spacious interior, while losing favor for its awkward steering wheel position, annoyingly techie dash, and lethargic performance.
Volkswagen's interior design has long benefited from a comforting arrangement of controls that defined the brand's identity through familiarity. Unfortunately, that long-standing tradition of design predictability is nowhere to be found in the Tiguan. In place of the dials, buttons, and graphics of bygone days, you are now confronted with fingerprint besmirched panes of obsidian plastic festooned with tiny icons that are virtually imperceptible when you're trying to drive. In particular, the faceplate for the HVAC system, with its confusing array of red and blue temperature graph plots makes for an uneasy relationship between car and driver.
Similarly, the gauges that appear on the screen directly in front of the driver are baffling. When the Tiguan first arrived, only two numbers appeared on the instrument panel: the gear selected and the speed of travel. It took us 20 minutes of reading the fine print in the owner's manual to figure out how to summon a menu of options by manipulating tiny buttons on the right spoke of the steering wheel. None of them, however, included a speedometer or tachometer, two of the staple instruments of driving. Nor did the handbook mention how to elicit either instrument.
We accidentally stumbled on a "View" button on the steering wheel which brought up a circular speedometer image when pressed. A second push produced a circular tachometer face, but we never did figure out how to get both "instruments" displayed simultaneously, side by side. If you want that kind of old school informational display, better buy a used VW where the speedo and the tach are fixed in place, not some kind of digital apparition.
With just 184hp motivating 3,860lb of SUV, the Tiguan is so underpowered (20.9lb/hp), you will need the rpm information provided by a tachometer to keep the engine on full boil. VW seems intent on stuffing their old standby 2-liter turbo 4 into almost everything they sell. It worked fine back in the days when the Tiguan was an itty bitty SUV, but these days, you will find yourself downshifting the 8-speed automatic gearbox quite frequently to keep pace with traffic. To do so you must use a floor-mounted shift lever in manual mode because there are no paddles affixed to the steering wheel.
The Tiguan SE gives a decent account of itself in the handling department. Springing is firm in the European tradition, with minimal lean on curves, good shock absorber reaction to bumps, and a generally competent tendency to follow the curves and dips in the road without upsetting the occupants. The 235/55R18 Goodyear Assurance Finesse radials, however, are designed for family comfort rather than high-performance maneuvers.
Perhaps the strongest suit of the Tiguan is its interior spaciousness, and the fact that it can be purchased with a fold-away 3rd-row seat for small fry. The airy second-row seats can also be folded flat to provide 33 cubic feet of cargo volume, which is exceptional for an SUV that is so dimensionally small. Best of all is the purchase price of the Tiguan SE, which comes to market with a base price of $30,120. With an extra charge of $395 for the metallic paint, our test Tiguan SE priced out at just $31,810, which is a whopping $14,000 under the average transaction price of a new vehicle in the USA today.
2022 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN 2.0T SE
• ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16-valve, iron block and aluminum head, turbocharged and intercooled
• HORSEPOWER: 184hp@6000rpm
• TORQUE: 221lb.-ft@1900rpm
• PRICE AS TESTED: $31,810
HYPES: Easy on the Eyes
GRIPES: Bus-Like Steering Wheel Angle
STAR RATING: 7 Stars out of 10