Experienced by Leon Brittain
What a beautiful drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Malibu in the latest 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV, which represents the brand’s best-selling vehicle globally and here in the United States. The crossover is sharper, smarter, and savvier, with a bevy of new tech features to improve upon its already “well-welcomed” disposition.
Available in four trim levels with FWD or 4Motion all-wheel drive – Tiguan S, Tiguan SE, Tiguan SE R-Line Black, and Tiguan SEL R-Line – pricing will start at $25,995 with a destination fee of $1,195. In Cali, I was able to experience an Oryx White Pearl Tiguan SEL R-Line 4Motion with a unique Noisette Brown Vienna leather interior that looks far more premium than expected. This model was replete with amenities and came in at $36,595. The second model I spent time with was the FWD SE R-Line Black with a Cinnamon V-Tex Leatherette interior for $32,295. As the name implies, it came with sporty 19” black alloy rims, black mirror caps, black roof rails, black outlines, and black front fascia features. From my perspective, VW probably designs the best-looking rims in this category, especially their sporty 20s.
SUVs are big business for the industry and VW since 71% of its sales now come from SUVs such as the Atlas, Taos, ID.4, and the Atlas Cross Sport, which is my favorite vehicle from the automaker. Tiguan’s exterior revisions include a new bumper, grille, fresh colors, standard LED headlights and taillamps, and an updated diffuser. Inside, upgrades consist of a Digital Cockpit, KESSY keyless entry, Climatronic Touch interface using a swipe bar for controls, haptic touch on the next-gen steering wheel, and ambient lighting. But that’s not all. A new gear shifter, wireless charging, 8” Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, a 10.25” Digital Cockpit Pro, and wireless App-Connect keeps the Tiguan on top of its game. My only genuine disappointment during the drive emanated from the flat seats that were not as comfortable as they looked. Yet, they are heated. A panoramic sunroof is available for $1,200 and the Fender audio system comes with the top-of-the-line model.
Paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, power resonates from VW’s updated turbocharged 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 184-horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. It doesn’t sound like much, but this powertrain package allows the vehicle to move quickly and fluidly for the Tiguan’s size and weight. Uphill, I didn’t experience power loss, and the vehicle was pretty flat through turns. The FWD model was not as confident as 4Motion, yet, it still handled well. There are no steering wheel paddle shifters, but drivers can use the shifter’s manual mode and the Driving Mode Selection’s (normal, eco, sport, custom) sport mode for a bit more performance. Expect 26 combined mpg for the FWD Tiguan and 25 combined mpg for 4Motion AWD.
A few safety features include Park Assist, Light Assist, Park Distance Control, Dynamic Road Sign Recognition, and IQ.DRIVE ($895) driver assistance technology. IQ.DRIVE provides owners with Lane Assist, Travel Assist, Emergency Assist, and automatic cruise control with stop and go.
With 3.5 million compact SUVs sold in 2020, representing 24% of total new sales, you can quickly evaluate what the Tiguan means to Volkswagen. Competing against the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, and Hyundai Santa Fe to name a few, all are well-respected and well-sold models. Efficient, simple to park, excellent city maneuverability, and value pricing showcases the importance of the compact SUV to American society.