Volkswagen Tiguan Generations

2018 – Present (Second Generation)

Volkswagen unveiled the second-generation Tiguan at the 2015 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany. The production of the new Tiguan uses the MQB platform which Volkswagen now employs to underpin everything from superminis to mid-size SUVs.

Owing to the new platform, the Tiguan has a longer wheelbase—it is nearly a foot longer than the previous-generation Tiguan—with extra-long rear doors and more rear seat room. Third-row seats, which are standard for front-wheel-drive models but optional for all-wheel-drive models, push the seating capacity to seven. There is also more cargo space at the back; the two-row model can now accommodate 73.5 cubic feet (versus the 56.1 cubic feet of the old Tiguan) when second-row seats are folded.

Despite being bigger, the Tiguan has retained the conventional two-box SUV look of the previous generation. Other than taking on the corporate horizontal grille and lower front fascia of the VW Atlas, there aren’t many changes to its exterior.

What buyers get in the interior depends on which of the four trims they choose. The base S version comes with standard cloth upholstery, a 6.5-inch touchscreen multimedia system, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The SE trim features an upgraded eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, leatherette upholstery, and heated front seats. The SEL trim adds a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, and adaptive cruise control—which automatically adjusts the speed of the Tiguan to maintain a safe pace from vehicles ahead—to the features of the lower trims. The fully loaded SEL Premium trim gets the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, automatic parking assistance, ambient interior lighting, and 20-inch wheels. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard across the line.

The second-generation Tiguan carries over the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine of the previous generation. The updated engine has a rating of 184 horsepower and 221 foot-pounds of torque. Volkswagen also upgraded all models to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available across the line at additional cost.

Fuel economy is slightly better than that of the previous generation; the standard front-wheel drive versions can do 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 27 miles on the highway. Some new safety features, such as pedestrian monitoring and automatic emergency braking, are standard in all but the base S trim.

2009 – 2017 (First Generation)

Volkswagen introduced the first Tiguan at the 2007 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany. Production started later in the year at the company’s subsidiary in Wolfsburg.

The German automaker chose the word “Tiguan,” a combination of the word “tiger” and “iguana,” to evoke a sense of strength and tenacity.

Indeed, the first Tiguan had a sporty stance that did not feel as heavy or as awkward as that of the first-generation VW Touaregs. However, it retained the conventional Volkswagen look, part of which was the characteristic grinning chrome grille and the somewhat stubby rear.

Although Volkswagen initially marketed the Tiguan as an SUV, its unibody construction made it more of a crossover with limited off-roading potential than a conventional SUV. The first-generation Tiguan used the mid-size B6 platform of the Volkswagen Passat which only allowed for two-row seating. The front spotted standard bucket seats, and the back had split-bench seats which accommodated three passengers. Rear seating was tight for adults, but passengers could slide the seats back to get more legroom.

Behind the seats, the Tiguan could accommodate 23.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Cargo capacity expanded to 56.1 cubic feet when the rear seats were folded. The front passenger seat could also fold down to accommodate long cargo.

When the compact five-seater launched, it was set to compete against the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

For the US market, Volkswagen offered the first-generation Tiguan in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. It added the R-Line trim for the 2015 model year and the Wolfsburg and Sport trims for the 2017 model year. Standard features in the mid-level SE trim included heated front seats, automatic climate control, a stereo system with a six-disc changer, and roof rails. Heated front seats became standard across the line for 2016 and subsequent model years.

All models were powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. Volkswagen paired the turbo engines with a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers interested in the base model could also opt for a six-speed manual transmission, but Volkswagen discontinued it for 2015 and subsequent model years.

Front-wheel drive was standard for all trim levels, and all-wheel drive was optional for the SE and SEL trims.

First-generation Tiguans had decent acceleration for their powertrain, going from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.9 seconds. The fuel economy was also average. The automatic transmission models could return 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 24 miles per gallon on the highway in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Some of the safety features that were standard in all trim levels included six airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, and anti-lock brakes. Electronic stability control, which detected and reduced skidding to improve the Tiguan’s stability, was also a standard feature. A backup camera became a standard feature for 2015 and subsequent model years.

  • Car Review
Review: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
By David Undercoffler | April 2, 2018

Autolist rating: 2/5
But would we buy it? Probably not
Price range: $25,495 - $38,450

Key takeaways

  • Excellent interior space, comfort and refinement.
  • Engine needs more power since it’s a heavy crossover.
  • Not a great value compared to rivals.
  • Styling and driving characteristics left us underwhelmed.

What is it?

The Tiguan is Volkswagen’s compact-ish crossover; it’s smaller than the huge Atlas and the upscale Touareg.

For 2018, VW stretched the Tiguan’s length more than 10 inches. This means VW can cram an optional third row of seats in the way back; the feature is standard on front-wheel-drive models and $500 on all-wheel-drive models. But a warning to the claustrophobic; adults will find the third-row legroom in short supply.

A third row of seats -- however cramped for adults -- makes the Tiguan unique in its segment. Nearly all of its competitors including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue (for 2018) and Jeep Compass are two-row only.

The Tiguan is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower.

It comes standard with front-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive, which VW calls 4Motion, is another $1,300.

There are four trim levels to the Tiguan: S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium.

What’s good

TLDR: Euro-style refinement on the cheap; plus space!

The refinement. Volkswagens have long been known for bringing a touch of upscale German engineering to the masses and the Tiguan continues that trend. The interior is comfortable and quiet -- from the buttons on the dashboard to the hearty sound the doors make, everything on the Tiguan feels one level above its competitors.

The space. The third row of seats may feel like a penalty box for adults but they’ll love the middle row. The seats slide forward and back and also recline. And with the third-row folded (or missing entirely), there’s more than enough room in the cargo area for your gear.

What’s bad

TLDR: Needs more power, safety and style.

The power. Or lack thereof. On paper, the Tiguan’s 184 horsepower is competitive with its rivals. But that doesn’t take into account how heavy the Tiguan is -- it’s hundreds of pounds more than other compact crossovers. This means the Tiguan often feels slow in acceleration.

The safety gear. This Tiguan needed more of it. The $30,280 SE model we tested lacked things like adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning and assist. These features are all included on comparable models with similar tags from Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Mazda.

The looks. Call us superficial but we were put off by the Tiguan’s face. It’s boring and too nose-heavy in a segment that has a variety of stylish alternatives like the Mazda CX-5, Jeep Compass and Chevy Equinox.

5 stars of execution

Safety? Yes

  • We were mixed on whether to give the Tiguan a star here.
  • The good news is that its rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t crash-tested it yet).
  • Plus, all models come with an innovative feature that applies the brakes after a collision to prevent you from a second impact; most models also come with pre-collision warning and braking and blind-spot monitoring.
  • But many of the Tiguan’s competitors offer more standard safety equipment.

Value? No

  • While the Tiguan outpaces most of its competitors for interior refinement, this comes at the expense of amenities.
  • As mentioned, our $30,280 test model lacked tech-based safety gear that its competitors have standard; it also was missing goodies like a sunroof or a power liftgate.
  • A fully-loaded Tiguan can top out at nearly $39,000, a big asking price for the mainstream compact crossover segment.

Efficiency? No

  • The Tiguan is rated by the EPA at 21/27/23 MPG city/highway/combined.
  • That’s within the range of its competitive set, though there are multiple competitors that beat it -- some by a wide margin.

Driving experience? No

  • The Tiguan’s heft isn’t matched by its power, so it generally feels slow in daily driving.
  • It also feels slow on initial acceleration from a stop; blame the lag on the turbocharged engine.
  • No one buys crossovers like this for the driving dynamics, but overall the Tiguan was more boring to drive than most.

Execution? Yes

  • The build quality of the Tiguan is excellent; it has a certain level of refinement that’s refreshing for this segment.
  • This meant that while it was boring at times to drive, the comfort and quiet the Tiguan affords is excellent.
  • The practicality of this model is hard to overlook. It will hold and haul everything you need.

Total Rating: 2 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The Tiguan starts at $25,495 for a front-wheel-drive S model. That gets you the turbocharged engine, three rows of seats, a 6.5-inch color touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and a backup camera.

The SE is next in line and it starts at $27,650 for front-wheel-drive. It adds an eight-inch color touchscreen, keyless access, dual climate control, faux leather seats that are heated up front, pre-collision braking and blind-spot monitoring.

The version we would choose is the SEL. At $31,990 it’s not cheap -- especially compared to rivals -- but it’s a nice balance of key amenities and safety features that we liked. These include a panoramic sunroof, remote start, a more robust infotainment screen with navigation, a power liftgate and adaptive cruise control.

At the top of the range is the SEL Premium, which starts at $37,150. It piles on extras like a fully-digital color instrument panel, LED headlights, actual leather seats, a premium audio system, 360-degree camera, lane-keeping assist and parking sensors.

All-wheel-drive is another $1,300 for all models listed.

Also consider

Compact crossovers like the Tiguan are one of the most competitive segments in the industry so nearly every brand has a model worth looking at.

Our favorites in this segment are the Honda CR-V for all-around performance and the Mazda CX-5 for style and driving dynamics.

The Hyundai Tucson, Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass and Toyota RAV4 are also well-rounded models worth considering.

Skip the Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester.

Final thoughts

While we generally liked the VW Tiguan for its refinement and practicality and there was no strong reason to avoid it, we would spend our own money on something else. There are just too many competitors that do everything this VW does, but better. So shop around.