2019 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: Skilled In All Trades, Master Of…?

Family taxi. Comfortable commuter car. Weekend getaway vehicle. Whichever one suits your fancy, the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan is adept at all the above. But does it do any one task particularly well?

[Photo: Volkswagen of America]

Volkswagen’s immensely popular Tiguan received a complete redo in 2018, highlighted by sharper exterior styling, a comprehensive set of driver safety features, and more room. Beforehand, VW’s compact crossover held a spot in the Wolfsburg lineup without a significant makeover since 2009. It has since evolved from a basic car-based SUV to a new model that has available all-wheel drive and third-row seating.

New for 2019

The 2019 Tiguan gets a few updates compared to the previous year model. Watch for the new R-Line appearance packages and a lower MSRP. Here is what we know:

  • The new 2019 Tiguan has a lower starting MSRP of $24,295 (-$200) and $25,595 for AWD models. Destination charge, $995
  • 2019 Tiguan adds SEL R-Line and SEL Premium R-Line trims, which is namely an appearance package
  • 4Motion included as standard equipment on the new R-Line trim levels
  • Third-row seating optional ($595) on certain trims
  • VW Digital Cockpit and Park Distance Control now standard on SEL trims (was SEL Premium)
  • Watch for the SEL R-Line mid-year update – SEL R-Line Jet Black, which features 19-inch black aluminum alloy wheels and black exterior trim

What Drives the Tiguan

The standard powertrain is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The available all-wheel drive model uses a fifth-generation Haldex system, derived from the one used in the Golf R.

Propelling the 2019 Tiguan is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. That output is less than the first generation Tiguan, sliding from 200 to 184 horsepower. On the flip side, engineers gave the adventuresome crossover more usable power by increasing torque from 200 to 221 pound-feet in the low rpm range. Most drivers won’t miss the change running errands and cruising the highway. Passing on the interstate or climbing steep hills is where we were screaming at Scotty to serve up more power from the engine room.

The decrease in horsepower and other improvements do work to give Volkswagen’s small family-size crossover better fuel economy over the first generation model. Fuel economy for the older model came in at 21 and 26 mpg for city and highway driving. The 2019 Tiguan gets an EPA-estimate of 22/29/25 mpg (city/highway/combined) for front-drive models and 21/29/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. We used the AWD crossover for a road trip to southern California and averaged 26 mpg after more than 1,000 miles of mixed driving.

Behind the Wheel Impressions

Overall performance and comfort play out nicely, with a few caveats. On any given terrain, it does have a fair degree of athleticism, which is noteworthy given how quiet and smooth this Volkswagen rides. Handling is quite good thanks to firmer suspension tuning and 19-inch wheels that send impact irregularities into the cabin,

When called upon, there is plenty of poise and hint of athleticism when tackling the turns. All of this is remarkable due to its smooth and quiet ride. Safety tech standard with our SEL model — such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) with stop and go, forward collision warning and automatic braking, and blind spot monitor — did a great job reducing driver fatigue on those long drives.

[Photo: Volkswagen of America]

Comfort and Convenience

The Tiguan’s interior space is functional, stylish, and covered in high-quality materials. Black leather and soft-touch plastics adorn almost every surface within reach. A nice touch is the understated use of piano black plastic and brushed aluminum accents. But, the cabin’s design is almost too bland – the materials are excellent and the layout is clean, but it all feels a little too business-like and constrained.

Seats in the Tiguan proved themselves quite comfortable after spending hours and hours meandering along California’s busy highways. Third-row seating is standard in the front-wheel drive models. In the four-wheel drive models, the third row is optional.

Cargo space is useful for a family of four. Behind the second row, the new Tiguan provides 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space in models without the third-row seats or 33 cubic feet when configured with three rows. Fold the rear seats and rear cargo space expands to 73.5 cubic feet (or 65.7 cubic feet in three-row models).

This generous cargo area is second to the Honda CR-V (75.8 cu.-ft.) but has more carrying volume than the Ford Escape (67.8 cu.-ft.) and Toyota RAV4 (69.9 cu.-ft.). , is the second-gen Tiguan’s usable storage capacity. It slew the competition in cars.com real-world cargo space challenge.

All 2019 Tiguan models get Volkswagen’s MIB II touchscreen infotainment system. The base model, which is the S, gets a 6.5-inch infotainment screen. Starting with the SE model, an 8.0-inch touchscreen is included and renders text and graphics with exceptional crispness and visibility. With the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple Car Play, select smartphone apps function through the car’s infotainment system.

TFLcar’s Take

For us, the 2019 Tiguan has more spunk — from its more pronounced styling to its gain in size, amenities, and safety tech. These characteristics help distinguish it from a crowded segment, especially with the upcoming R-Line Jet Black appearance package. Moreover, we had fun driving the crossover despite its underpowered performance.

If Volkswagen’s German engineering and Euro-flair doesn’t excite you, there are plenty of appealing, less expensive alternatives. The fully redesigned 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe presents a strong value statement. The Ford Escape still looks sharp, and its driving dynamics feel more like a car than an undersized SUV. Of course, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 have occupied the leaderboard for ages and happen to be the best all-around compact crossovers with the biggest sales numbers. Still, you can’t ignore the Tiguan — a well-rounded SUV that is roomy, efficient, and imminently practical.