I have never owned a Volkswagen, but the brand identity is fully ingrained in my psyche. When I was a toddler and fell and split my head open, I was driven to the hospital in my Uncle Joe’s yellow Volkswagen Beetle. When I was a teenager, the ULTIMATE sweet sixteen car was a convertible white Volkswagen Cabriolet – c’mon, you’d still drive one if you could. And the VW emblem is repeatedly ripped off my poor mother-in-law’s 1992 Golf (thanks a lot, Mike D). I was delighted to drive a new Beetle on the test track at the Volkswagen Freedriving Tour, and also delighted when they offered us the use of a Tiguan for a Car review for a week.
Let’s turn it over to Mr. HBWT for his thoughts on the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan…
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Review and Test Drive:
My experience with “the people’s car” is actually quite varied: my father is a big VW fan, my main mode of transport in university was an ’80 Rabbit diesel, and recently I got a chance to put some new Volkswagens through their paces at a closed track. So I was happy to get my hands on a brand new Tiguan for a week to see how these experiences would translate into my liking of the automaker’s latest SUV offering.
I didn’t know much about the Tiguan going in – other than that it is the smaller sibling to the Touareg (a nice set of wheels but well outside of what I would, or could, spend on an automobile). I loved my Rabbit and, though painfully slow under any circumstances, it was ultra reliable and cost almost nothing to run – about as perfect a student car as there is. I actually sold it for 200 bucks more than I bought it for 5 years earlier. A light year leap ahead, of course, is the 2012 Tiguan and stands as VW’s entry into the rather crowded compact SUV market.
The Tiguan comes in 3 flavors in Canada from the base FWD Trendline with standard transmission, to the mid range Comfortline with an assortment of upgrades, to the fully loaded Highline with AWD and a turbocharged engine. The MSPR of these 3 styles ranges from 27K to 40K +. Our model was the Highline and it was NICE – with all of the bells and whistles and leather one could wish for. The interior is really well laid out and aesthetically pleasing, and there was plenty of room for me (at 6’7″) in the drivers seat without clipping too much of the room in the second row. It was a very comfortable car to drive with five. With that said, what was immediately noticeable was the reduction in cargo capacity compared to most of the other compact SUVs we tested. The rakish styling of the Tiguan definitely lends itself to this issue (much as it did to the CX5) and our stroller (folded up) barely fit in the back which was a pretty significant departure from others like the Rav 4 and CRV. The odd thing to me is that the Tiguan isn’t much physically smaller (5″ than the CRV) so clearly cargo capacity was a feature that wasn’t that important to the engineers.
As for the driving experience, the Tiguan was comfortable but I was a bit surprised by its performance. While no slouch, I didn’t find it particularly peppy nor did I find the handling particularly tight – perhaps I was expecting more is all. As for fuel economy it fell easily within the range of its main competitors at around 11.5L/100km – so no gas guzzler but also not a major breakthrough in fuel economy either. Where the Tiguan really seemed to excel, like the Kia Sorento, was on the highway at cruising speed.
The styling is good, and I appreciate that it is a cut above the standard styling in this class though not particularly innovative or daring.
After spending a week with the Tiguan for this Volkswagen Tiguan review, do I know more now? Of course… But I am still a bit confused by it and where it fits in to the aforementioned highly competitive compact SUV market. It is neither the fastest, the roomiest, or the most fuel efficient – and while feeling quite luxurious was not enough of a standout in that category from other fully loaded competitors. It scores very well in reliability but the CRV and Rav4 do as well. To add to this mystery is the price tag – it is at the top of the price range for this class.
I guess the one thing that the Tiguan has that no others do is the VW logo on the grill, and for some that is well worth the – and to me there is no other way to put it – compromises that you have to make with this vehicle. Maybe the term “compromise” isn’t fair. Maybe I just got used to all of the various SUVs we tested in this class as being “outstanding” in one or two aspects and I just never really felt that about the Tiguan. It is a great car overall, but seems fairly standard in all of its features. But, it IS a Volkswagen and if you are a fan (as many are for good reasons) and want a compact SUV then you can have just that in the Tiguan. And sorry ’80 Rabbit I used to own (that is no doubt still running) – this is WAAAAAY nicer.
I did think the Tiguan was super nice, and I felt pretty fancy driving it. I have to agree that the cargo capacity was much lower than expected, but it certainly managed our day to day needs – even if it was sometimes a bit of a squeeze. I kind of “get” the Volkswagen thing, though. And chances are, one day I will own one – even if it’s a sweet sixteen present for our daughter of a white convertible Beetle – as THAT model is WAY WAY sweet.
Can you believe that we actually did end up buying a car?! We’ll fill you in soon on our process, the car we ALMOST bought (and why we didn’t buy it) and the one that’s currently in our driveway that we are very happy with.