Volkswagen just completed back-to-back launches of the Atlas, a midsize SUV, and its newly updated compact SUV, the 2018 Tiguan. The second-generation of the latter arrives not a moment too soon. The first generation burst onto the scene more than nine years ago and, in such a competitive market, nine years is an eternity. It is now much bigger, which allowed the engineers to give it a third bench and send it to the top of its segment in terms of size.
This Tiguan seats seven, but let’s be realistic, the third row won’t be comfortable for adults on long trips. It’ll be handy in pinch though, particularly to transport your kids’ friends, or perhaps an adult you hate. It comes on option on all trims.
Inside, the dashboard layout is very subdued, but it’s functional and easy to use. You can’t miss the eight-inch infotainment touch screen in the middle of the dashboard (6.5 inches in the basic Tiguan). It controls numerous things, but does as it pleases if by chance you graze it accidentally.
The Tiguan is more family-oriented, as all the occupants are treated to a little more room, especially for the legs, while the passengers in the back will be able to recline their seats for more comfort. The loading capacity is 58% bigger so you can haul more cargo.
The Tiguan’s turbocharged and direct-injected, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is brand new and develops 184 horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s paired with the only available transmission, an eight-speed automatic. The meager 1500-pound towing capacity was a disappointment, but that’s par for the course with modern SUVs built on a chassis that’s not suitable for the task and whose engines are just getting smaller and smaller.
We were lucky enough to test drive the Tiguan in and around Denver, Colorado. The comfort and, especially, the quiet ride were immediately obvious. The cabin did a good job of keeping out ambient noise, including engine noise, which is no easy task when you push the engine to the limit. We didn’t like the electronic accelerator as it isn’t precise and lags, particularly when the vehicle is stopped or moving slowly. It takes some getting used to.
The steering is better. Always precise, it makes you feel like you’re in control. On the road, we found the power barely sufficient, but you have to keep in mind that we were at an altitude of over 8000 feet in some places. Although the turbocharger made up for the low air density, pushing the Tiguan any more would have put an enormous strain on the engine. Back home, the effect should be much less noticeable.
The Volkswagen Tiguan comes in three versions: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. With an all-wheel drivetrain, pricing will start at $31,175.