Battling the Elements: Volkswagen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 vs. Gold Mine Hill and on the Track [Video]

Sometimes, even momentum is not enough.

Today’s TFLcar video is a lesson in off-road misadventure, tires, and gravity. What is all that about? We took the brand new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan and the 2018 Mazda CX-5 up Gold Mine Hill. However, there’s a bit of a caveat with that. It’s winter in the Rocky Mountains, so there’s still plenty of snow left on the trails. And where you have snow, there’s bound to be ice. That turned out to be the case as we put these two all-wheel drive crossovers to the test on the trail outside our hometown of Boulder, Colorado.

Now, the road up to Gold Mine Hill wasn’t enough to defeat either one of these crossovers. The Tiguan and the CX-5 are both able to shift the power around front to rear well enough on level ground and gentle gradients. Mazda’s i-Activ system uses a series of 27 sensors scattered throughout the car. They measure steering input, throttle input, g-forces, and even whether the windshield wipers are on. From all that data, it decides where best to send power at any given moment. In normal driving conditions, it’s front-wheel drive, but it can split torque 50/50 if needed.

The Volkswagen’s 4Motion system also sends power to the front under normal conditions, only using an electronic coupling to lock in the rear wheels when needed. It’s a system similar to what’s on the Golf R. However, unlike the Mazda, the driver does have some control over setting terrain parameters for the system to use. Near the center console, there’s a dial to select different modes: Snow, Highway, Offroad, and Offroad Custom. The last one allows the driver to fine-tune which settings they’d like for light off-road use.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan vs. Mazda CX-5 vs. snow
Losing traction isn’t the most fun you can have while off-roading in snow… [Photo: TFLcar]

Taking on Gold Mine Hill…and making lemonade

Sometimes, though, the all-wheel drive system isn’t enough to beat mother nature. The Tiguan made it up past stage two of Gold Mine Hill before we started filming, so we were confident both cars would tackle those parts of the uphill climb no problem. However, by the time we attempted the trail while filming, the ice proved too much for the Tiguan. It’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque wasn’t enough to pull it up the hill. Nor were its all-season tires enough to provide traction on the slippery ice. In fact, the Tiguan slid back down the hill, nearly into a metal pole and a tree. If the Tiguan didn’t make it, there was no way the Mazda could try it either. Its 2.5-liter, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder wouldn’t be enough with 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque.

What do you do instead? Well, you take them to the track, of course! Down at our elevation, there wasn’t any snow. So, we made the best of the situation and pitched them against each other on the track in a drag race instead. Which car came out victorious? You’ll just have to watch the video above to find out!

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