Engine: 2-liter TSI, DOHC turbo, direct injection 4-cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with Tiptronic
EPA Ratings: 21/city, 27/highway, 23/combined
Base Price: $30,230
As Tested: $31,130
Overview: Redesigned for 2018, the second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan is larger than the previous model. Well-equipped for its price, this tall, compact crossover expands toward midsize interior space. It competes primarily with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.
Model Lineup: Four models are offered — S, SE (our test driver), SEL and SEL Premium.
Walkaround: The new Tiguan is angular, with a character line traveling back from the front fender. The beltline is lower than most crossovers and there are wide rear doors. The front end — grille, bumpers, fascia — are the same as the full-sized VW Atlas, the only difference being small creases in the hood. The Tiguan doesn’t sport the large, aggressive-looking wheel arches featured on the Atlas. More glass in the rear liftgate avoids the wedge-like look of many crossovers.
Interior: The Tiguan cabin is clean and functionally businesslike. The focal point in SE models and higher is the 8-inch center touchscreen — drawing attention away from the hard plastic surfaces. SEL Premium models trade the center gauges for a sharp 12.3-inch driver information display. While audio is adequate, SEL Premium models feature a kick-butt Fender system. Both seating rows are near the top of the class in comfort — firm and supportive. The rear seats have exceptional legroom with the sliding rear seat moved back. However, adults should forego the third row — standard on FWD models, available with AWD. The rear liftgate is wide, great for easy loading and accommodates 37.6 cubic feet of cargo with the seats folded.
Behind the Wheel: The Tiguan handles competently and the ride feels softer than before. The steering is light, without seeming tighter or quicker in Sport mode. Power is smooth under acceleration, with strong torque at low RPMs. The Tiguan comes off the line hot but fades at higher revs. Even with the turbo and eight-speed automatic, it doesn’t seem to get any stronger. The automatic seems tentative when downshifting for acceleration and upshifts are crisp, although programmed for improved fuel mileage.
Bottom Line: The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is much improved over the somewhat funky previous version. It delivers compact crossover convenience, a comfortable ride, decent handling and value for the price.