The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is the best compact crossover for you if you’re willing to go along as this German automaker’s menu changes from tasty little bratwursts to big juicy hot dogs. This all-new, second-generation Tiguan is a prime example of VW rethinking its bill of fare to finally offer crossovers that satisfy American appetites. Has it gone too far? I’m Chuck Giamettta, join me for a CarPreview video review of the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan. The sausage metaphor is appropriate, because this Tiguan is essentially a sliced-shorter version of VW’s big new Atlas crossover, the largest vehicle its ever offered in the U.S.Both are based on the automaker’s modular MQB structure, which is versatile enough to also underpin the lithe and lively Golf compact cars. The new Tiguan is almost a foot longer than the first-generation model it replaces and has 58 percent more cargo volume. It’s also roomier than VW’s now-discontinued Touareg midsize crossover. Incidentally, the nearly decade-old first-generation Tiguan remains on sale as the value-priced Tiguan Limited. Just as the Atlas stretches the definition of a midsize crossover, the new Tiguan seems to be busting out of the compact class bun. It’s the longest entry in the segment and is available for the first time with three rows of seats, making it one of only three seven-passenger vehicles in the class of some 16 competitors.The other two are the Nissan Rogue and Mitsubishi Outlander, but none provides more than kid-sized space in its third row. Rather, VW touts that extra capacity as a condiment Tiguan can muster against better-selling rivals, such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and Jeep Cherokee. Just don’t expect Tiguan to duplicate the driving experience the MQB platform delivers in the wonderfully entertaining Golf. Oh, it’s got some laudable dynamic qualities, but VW’s aim here is a crossover with the room, features and relaxed road manners to attract young families and – with this handsome if rather understated body – tempt style-conscious urbanites.There are four trim levels, all with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and each available with front-wheel drive or Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive. Tiguan’s top three models come nicely equipped, with an 8-inch infotainment screen, satellite radio, keyless entry with pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a steering
wheel and shifter wrapped in leather. Imbedded navigation kicks in at the SEL level, along with a power liftgate and remote engine start. The SEL also has eighteen-inch alloy wheels instead of seventeens, and a panoramic moonroof, which is a twelve-hundred-dollar option for the SE model. The top-line SEL Premium gets 19-inch alloys, steering-linked LED headlights, power folding mirrors, and a hands-free power liftgate.It heats the steering wheel, adds memory to the power driver’s seat, and replaces VW’s V-Tex leatherette upholstery with real leather. This is the entry-level S model, and while it comes with heated mirrors, a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, it makes due with an old-fashioned key, a six-and-a-half-inch screen, manual climate controls, and cloth upholstery. There is some subtle design flair even here, but Tiguan maintains a certain Teutonic discipline in ergonomics and styling. It’s an amply proportioned Yank when it comes to roominess, though. The airy cabin features generously sized front buckets. And the rear seat is unchallenged in the class for legroom and headroom. As for that third row: a low, hard cushion, thin, upright backrest, and tight clearances put it off limits to adults.The split-folding bench is standard on front-wheel drive Tiguans and a five-hundred-dollar option on 4Matic versions. There’s actually some usable cargo space behind that third row though, thanks to the longest body in the segment. Overall volume is above average, too, although VW needs to work on the effectiveness of these flimsy seatback releases. Small-items storage space is more than sufficient.Merely sufficient describes Tiguan’s power off the line. A small engine that depends on turbo boost isn’t the receipt for quick acceleration away from a stop. To be fair, this is a shortcoming shared by any number of compact and even midsize crossovers that team turbo fours with automatic transmissions geared for maximum fuel economy. The good news here is that after a lazy car length or two, the boost comes on and there’s plenty of muscle for around-town driving and merging and passing at freeway speeds. Tiguan has a powertrain-stimulating Sport mode, more torque than most in this class, and a conventional automatic that promotes better throttle response than the continuously variable transmissions in many competitors. But this is also among the porkiest vehicles in the
competitive set, and that helps keep mileage ratings in the lower tier of the segment. Thankfully, there’s no escaping the excellence of that MQB platform.It’s a rock-solid foundation that lets VW dial in the feel it thinks appropriate for the new Tiguan. What it deems suitable is a soft ride and relaxed handling. We’re onboard with the suspension’s impressive ability to absorb bumps without disturbing the cabin. But a little more of the agility you get with a Golf — or even with the first-generation Tiguan — would be appreciated.As it is, the new Tiguan feels every bit the sliced-down Atlas. It’s stress-free and entirely predictable, just not exciting. It can be more stirring than you’d think off pavement, though, thanks to 4Motion’s multi-terrain settings and a liberal seven-point-nine-inches of ground clearance. In this class, that’s a level of versatility only Jeep and Subaru offer.The previous Tiguan was premium priced. This one falls well within the range of the class, which means VW’s now giving us plenty of metal for the money. It also seems to be addressing something else we Americans crave: dependability. Along with the Atlas, the new Tiguan comes with a six-year, seventy-two-thousand-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. That’s the best transferable coverage in the SUV field and double the bumper-to-bumper warranty you get on other VWs. Enhancing Tiguan’s value proposition, top safety features are standard beginning with the SE model and a reasonable eight-hundred-fifty-dollar option for the S. These include autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert. The SEL adds adaptive cruise control, and the SEL Premium comes with all that, plus lane-maintaining automatic steering and a surround-view camera. It also replaces the conventional analog gauges with Volkswagen’s jazzy Digital Cockpit. It’s most impressive trick is to display your navigation map front and center. We’ve grown fond of this beefed-up Tiguan for the very things it brings to the table – roominess and a refreshing sense of honest design.There are faster, better-handling rivals. More flamboyantly styled ones, too. But the new Tiguan feels like comfort food. For more on this and other cars, trucks and SUVs, go to CarPreview.com, and please subscribe to our CarPreview YouTube channel. .