Is Bigger Really Better? The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Says Yes! [Review]

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
[Photo: Arv Voss]
The Volkswagen Tiguan made its debut as a 2009 model and was the German automaker’s first compact crossover. The initial impression of the Tiguan was that it represented a blending of attributes present in VW’s GTI or Jetta and their larger Touareg SUV. For those inquiring about where the name originated, we were informed that it was derived by combining “Tiger” and “Iguana”. Come on, what’s up with that? At least Touareg a bit more sense. Oh well, at least if you were curious, you now know what a Tiguan is – and what it’s not.

Regardless of its name, Volkswagen’s first crossover was pretty impressive. It came at a time when smaller was actually considered to be better, particularly in terms of fuel economy. Yes, I know that there are more fuel conscious vehicles out there. But not necessarily with the same attributes and amenities served up by the Tiguan. Here, there are elevated standards in design aesthetics, in driving dynamics, and in safety features. VW also equipped the Tiguan with a healthy inventory of luxury and convenience content to compete in a fiercely competitive market.


The Tiguan’s design remains European in flavor, and continues to remain true to Volkswagen’s heritage. It’s instantly recognizable as a VW, with several GTI visual influences. The exterior of the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan displays a crisp, sleek bolder image. That image includes the horizontal front-end design prevalent in other Volkswagen models.

In profile, the new Tiguan showcases a raked-back windshield, rising beltline and large side windows. There’s also an instantly recognizable, trademark “C”-pillar at the rear. On SE models with higher trims, a distinctive chrome trim surrounds the side windows, enhancing the overall look. At 185.1 inches front to rear, 71.4 inches wide and 66.3 inches tall, it fills a size bracket that is ideal for maneuvering in urban or suburban environments.

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan lineup consists of 4 models, each with varying degrees of progressive feature content. Moving up from the base S is the SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. An R-line trim package will rejoin the lineup this year as well. Base pricing begins at $25,345 and rises to $37,550, excluding a $900 Destination charge for all models. Each trim level is available in either front-wheel drive as standard, although the 4Motion all-wheel drive system is available as an option.

As with the Atlas, the Tiguan is based on Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture. Compared to its predecessor, the new Tiguan delivers more interior space. It’s 10.7 inches longer than the current version, and provides up to 57 percent more cargo capacity. The 2018 comes with both sliding 40/20/40 second-row seats and an optional 50/50 split third row. The MQB platform allows for a wider, lower stance. The exterior design also enhances the Tiguan’s utility, from a 26-degree approach angle for off-roading to a lower lift-in height for the tailgate.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
[Photo: Arv Voss]


Volkswagen has thoughtfully refreshed the Tiguan’s interior. Even the cloth seats on base S models now feature a rhombus pattern that serves up a premium look. The 2018 model now features Volkswagen’s optional Digital Cockpit display. Volkswagen’s Car-Net system also provides a suite of connected vehicle services. Most importantly, it features standard App-Connect technology that offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink capatibility. For audiophiles, the 2018 Tiguan offers an optional Fender Premium Audio System.

The Tiguan now offers a comprehensive suite of driver assistance technology. Available features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist) with Pedestrian Monitoring. There’s also Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Traffic Alert and Lane Keep Assist.

Flexible seating is key in cars like these, and the Tiguan delivers. The new model has reclining rear seats providing six inches of fore and aft travel, allowing for increased legroom or cargo space. The front passenger seat folds flat to accommodate carrying longer objects. The cabin also includes a variety of clips and storage bins making for a safe space for all types of items.

The suspension features European-flavored tuning for a connected handling feel, but with a smooth and compliant ride. Like all Volkswagens, the Tiguan incorporates VW’s Prevent and Preserve Safety System. Forty-five distinct features comprise that system, including six airbags and an Electronic Stabilization Program as standard. Rear side airbags are optionally available.

Volkswagen loaded the Tiguan with a host of other convenience and comfort features, as well. A huge, panoramic sunroof opens the Tiguan up to nearly 13 square feet of blue sky. SEL models feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with navigation capability. Sirius Satellite Radio with real-time traffic data is also available, with a subscription fee (a three-month free trial is included).


2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
[Photo: Arv Voss]


There’s only one engine option for the 2018 Tiguan. In all trims, Volkswagen provides a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. For those who have too much gear to carry inside, the Tiguan is capable of towing up to 2,200 pounds. You can also carry an additional 220 pounds of cargo on the roof. Volkswagen sized the Tiguan right to fill the gap left by the Touareg, and this new model drives well. The experience borders on sporty. Since it’s a crossover, it’s not the most electric drive, but it’s still fun and it rides comfortably. The handling is precise and readily responsive despite its CUV nature.

The 2018 Tiguan’s six-year/72,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty includes powertrain coverage, including the optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Volkswagen’s bumper-to-bumper warranty is longer than most of its rivals. Even better, Volkswagen allows you to transfer that warranty to subsequent owners up to 6 years or 72,000 miles, whichever occurs first.


My test 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan was a FWD SEL Premium model, with the exterior finished in Dark Moss Green metallic with the interior done in Black. The base price was set at $36,250 while the final tally registered $37,150 after adding the Driver Care Package and destination charges. The car proved to be a delight in every respect. The Tiguan prioritizes space over speed, but it will still give enough oomph for most buyers.

SPECIFICATIONS:2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $36,250
Price as Tested: $37,150
Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder w/ direct injection
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely-mounted front-engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 184 hp @ 4,400 RPM
Torque: 221 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM
Transmission: Eight-speed Tiptronic automatic
Suspension: Front: Strut-type w/ lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic damper and anti-roll bar Rear: Multi-link, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) w/ ABS, EBD and ESC
Tires: Continental ProContact TX 235/50 R19 99H; Mud & Snow rated
Fuel capacity: 15.3 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 22 City/27 Highway MPG
Drag Coefficient: 0.35


Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length:  185.1 inches
Width: 71.4 inches
Height:  66.3 inches
Turning Circle: 37.7 feet
Curb Weight: 3,404 pounds