2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 4MOTION If bigger is indeed better, then the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan ought to be the best compact crossover SUV sold today. Measuring 185.1 inches stem to stern, VW’s all-new Tiguan overshadows every vehicle in its class. It’s also nearly a foot longer than its predecessor. Credit Volkswagen’s decision to send us the long-wheelbase version of the second-generation Tiguan instead of the shorter, 176.6-inch-long model that the company also sells in other markets. The new Tiguan’s increased exterior dimensions translate to a larger passenger compartment, where Volkswagen has squeezed in a vestigial two-person, third-row bench seat into the rear compartment of every front-wheel-drive Tiguan. The tiny third row is offered as a $500 option on the all-wheel-drive Tiguan 4MOTION, which comes standard with seating for five and starts $1300 higher than the front-drive version. Adding the third row to the Tiguan reduces second-row legroom from 38.7 inches to 36.5. Likewise, the third row chops available cargo room behind the standard 40/20/40 split-folding second row from 38 cubic feet to 33.Raise the flat-folding third row and the Tiguan’s cargo hold measures just 12 cubic feet. At least the hatch features a wide opening and a reasonable 28.5-inch liftover height. Still, the Tiguan provides more room aft of its third row than the Nissan Rogue and the Mitsubishi Outlander. As in those competitors, the Tiguan’s cramped third row is no place for adults. Fortunately, the VW’s front seats are plush and well sculpted, while the second-row bench can slide fore and aft as well as recline. Additionally, soft plastics line the Tiguan’s dash and door panels, and even the base front-drive $26,245 Tiguan S includes features such as steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic headlights, rear HVAC vents, and a touchscreen infotainment system that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.Accessing convenience features such as heated front seats and a proximity key with push-button start requires stepping up to the $29,980 Tiguan SE, though, and items such as a power liftgate, an in-dash navigation system, and adaptive cruise control necessitate spending $33,450 on the Tiguan SEL. Opting for the $37,150 Tiguan SEL Premium we tested adds luxuries including LED headlights with automatic high-beams, a 360-degree exterior camera system, front and rear parking sensors, and a digital gauge
cluster. No matter the trim level, the price for AWD and the addition of the third row remains the same. Bigger, Heavier, Thriftier, Weaker. The 2018 Tiguan isn’t just longer than its forebear, it’s also noticeably heavier. VW says that 212 pounds separates the new Tiguan 4MOTION from its first-generation counterpart, but our scales told a different story. At a portly 4086 pounds, this top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive SEL Premium weighed a full 330 pounds more than a previous-generation Tiguan 4MOTION and is a whopping 578 pounds heavier than a Honda CR-V Touring with all-wheel drive.Despite sharing its MQB bones with Volkswagen Group cars such as the Audi A3 and the VW Golf, the heftier Tiguan lacks those models’ engaging dynamics. Soft springs allow the compact crossover to pitch and roll through turns, while the SEL Premium’s 19-inch Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires generated only enough grip to keep the Tiguan stuck to our 300-foot skidpad at 0.79 g, or 006 g less than we recorded in an all-wheel-drive Ford Escape. Meanwhile, the Tiguan’s overboosted and numb electrically assisted power-steering system saps driver confidence, as the fingertip-light wheel is devoid of on-center feel and fails to build proper weight with speed. Powering the new Tiguan is an updated version of the turbocharged 20-liter inline-four found in the previous model. The revised engine can run on a modified version of the more efficient Miller cycle, which helps raise EPA-rated fuel economy for the Tiguan 4MOTION from 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway to 21/27 for the new model (front-drive Tiguans are rated at 22/27). We saw 24 mpg in mixed driving and 33 mpg on our real-world highway fuel-economy test, bettering the EPA’s figures in both instances.What the revamped 20T gains in fuel efficiency it loses in power and tractability. Down 16 horses compared with the previous version, the 184-hp engine is diesel-like in its power delivery, with 221 lb-ft of torque arriving at 1600 rpm and fully present until 4300 rpm. By 5000 rpm—1500 rpm short of the tachometer-marked redline—the forced-induction four-cylinder’s powerband begins to fall flat. Although plentiful low-end torque helped get it to 30 mph in a reasonable enough 3.1 seconds, the zero-to-60-mph time of 9.1 seconds was underwhelming. The Tiguan’s passing performance was no less disappointing. Its slow-to-downshift eight-speed automatic transmission hobbled
passing performance, with 30 to 50 mph taking a long 5.1 seconds.An all-wheel-drive Mazda CX-5 did the same deed in just 3.9. The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan may be the biggest compact crossover SUV sold today, but subpar dynamics keep it from reaching the bar set by the best in this class. Nevertheless, the spacious and comfortable new VW is sure to appeal to a wider audience than the cramped but more engaging first-generation model, so while bigger may not be better in terms of driving pleasure, it no doubt will be better for sales. .