2024 Volkswagen Tiguan – Aging Gracefully


It’s not easy to stand out especially when there is a big crowd of uninspiring crossovers for the masses, the Volkswagen Tiguan offers a unique product proposition with sharp looks combined with great practicality and European flare. It may not be the newest kid on the block, but it offers unique features that make it appealing to the right audience, and this is why Tiguan is the best seller globally.

The Tiguan uses the MQB platform like most Volkswagens available in North America, but this is one of the few VWs globally available with the same name, very similar looks with two options, you can choose the short wheelbase and long wheelbase models. In North America, only the long-wheelbase option is available.

The Looks – Exterior & Interior

The second generation Tiguan was unveiled back in 2016, and it was updated in 2020. The changes were significant, especially the looks, including the revised front fascia that gave the Tiguan a more modern look. Our tester is the sportiest R-Line trim with sportier design elements like the sportier bumpers that look similar to the Golf R.

The R-Line trim offers other sportier design elements, including the larger 20″ wheels, chrome accents, and less unpainted plastic surfaces with a more premium look. The Tiguan has a boxy profile with sharp body lines and a roofline that slopes gently towards the rear. The rear end is mostly the same since it was first released and it still looks modern despite its age. The only gripe I had was the fake exhaust tips, I wish it was either real exhaust tips, or wasn’t there at all. Other than that, despite the age of this platform, the Tiguan is still one of the better-looking compact crossovers available.

Just like the exterior design, the interior looks undoubtedly Volkswagen. The beige interior makes it feel less monochromatic, it has a nice diversity of different types of materials with some physical controls, some haptic feedback buttons, and sliders for the HVAC controls. Unlike the newer Volkswagen models, you still get some physical controls as it is the older-gen MQB platform. If it is something that you want, it is still available with the Tiguan.

Despite having more physical controls, it still has decent tech that you don’t find in many compact crossovers. The digital gauge cluster is one of them. It is very customizable and you can actually move your navigation map if you do not want to look to the head unit. It also has a few different layouts you can choose from, but the screen quality is even more impressive. The black levels are really good, the resolution is good, and it is easy to read and navigate through the digital gauge cluster.

The infotainment screen is the older generation that we used to see in some models like the Jetta and Taos, and it works very well. It has volume and tune knobs, and dedicated touch-sensitive buttons for radio features, and the software is relatively fast and lag-free. The smartphone connectivity can be hit or miss from time to time, but it works well for the most part. The Tiguan also comes with a 360 camera with a decent camera resolution which helps a lot if you are trying to park in tight spaces. I wish Volkswagen used actual buttons for the steering wheel as haptic feedback buttons can be annoying for some people, but overall it is still pretty easy to interact.

The seat comfort is okay, nothing spectacular, but it offers a nice balance of comfort and driver support. The R-Line offers extra side bolstering, and the top trim comes with the memory seat function for the driver. I wish the armrest was closer to the sidewall, or has some adjustment options so shorter adults, but there are no issues with the driving position.

The great part about the Tiguan is the overall interior space, no matter how tall you are, you will have no issues with the overall adjustment, or interior space anywhere inside. The beige interior may not be the best colour choice for families, especially with kids, but it gives an extra open feeling. The rear seat passengers have tons of legroom and headroom, and the middle row can fold down separately, which allows families to place tall items without having to fold down the whole second-row seats.

The rear seat passengers also get decent features like the third zone climate control, cupholders hidden in the armrest, and heated seats. What makes the Tiguan unique in this class is the optional third row, even though it is a tight space only for small kids or pets, having an extra two seats in a compact crossover may be the biggest selling point in this segment. Not many people want to drive a huge mid-size SUV just to have an extra two seats in the back, therefore the Tiguan may be the right choice for people who still want to drive a compact crossover with the option of having a 7-seater for emergencies.

The third row is a great asset for people who need it, but having it in a compact crossover means the trunk space is not very usable when the third row is up. The Tiguan’s three-row models offer 12 cubic feet (340 litres) of cargo space behind the third row. Folding the third row results in 33 cubic feet (934 litres) and it can go all the way up to 65.3 cubic feet (1849 litres) when you fold the third and second-row seats down. If cargo capacity is more important than having the third row, then you can choose the two-row option Tiguan with more cargo space available.

The Drive – Specs & Experience

The Tiguan comes with only one engine and transmission option. It has a 2.0 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that pushes 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The corporate EA888 engine is used in all other gas-powered Volkswagens, but Tiguan gets the budack-cycle engine which is the fuel economy-focused version more than performance. It still offers a decent amount of torque at low RPMs and a mid-range punch, making it a more usable powerband than any other naturally aspirated variants available in this segment. The turbo lag is minimal, but the engine sounds more agricultural with more valvetrain noise than the other EA888 variants available.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is paired with an 8-speed torque-converted automatic transmission, also used in other Volkswagen SUVs. The torque-converted transmission is made by Aisin, not the fastest by any means, but it is important to remember most entries use a continuously variable transmission in this segment. It offers smooth shifting, and no gear hunting, and the gear ratios are a great match for the powerband. I would rather take this drivetrain combination than the other entries that come with a naturally aspirated engine and a continuously variable transmission all day long.

Volkswagen Tiguan comes standard with a 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system regardless of the trim you choose. Unlike the US-spec variants, you can opt for the third-row option and still get an all-wheel drive. It is a front-biased Haldex AWD system that sends power to the rear wheels when needed, you can choose different drive and terrain modes for optimal traction. It is not an off-road entry, but it feels quite sure-footed on any type of surface. You do not feel a lot of torque steering, which shows that the 4MOTION does a good job of hiding that it is a front-biased AWD system and sends power to the rear wheels quickly.

The power figures on paper are not class-leading by any means, but the real-world experience is quite different. The engine doesn’t have to work hard to offer a decent amount of torque, or it does not feel gutless like most entries. The driving experience feels more premium mainly due to the drivetrain choice. The steering is soft, and the softly sprung suspension is the right choice for a family-oriented vehicle.

The R-Line’s 20″ rims look great, but they are a little too big for an SUV without the adaptive suspension, I wish Volkswagen offered the R-Line package as an option for the top trim. Smaller rims with wider tire sidewalls would have helped the overall ride quality for people prioritizes refinement over the looks. Other than that, it offers a smooth driving experience with relatively low noise, vibration and harshness levels.

The Verdict

The new Tiguan is on the way, but the second-generation Tiguan has aged well, and it is still a solid contender in a very competitive segment. Its good road manners, great interior space, solid build quality, and family-oriented features like most entries. However, the current generation Tiguan stands out especially if you need the third row, better tech with great screen quality and infotainment system, and an actual torque-converted 8-speed automatic transmission that makes the driving experience more engaging than others.

Engine2.0-litre turbocharged inline-4
Transmission & Drivetrain8-speed automatic & 4MOTION all-wheel-drive
Max power (combined)184 hp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque (combined)221 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
0-100 km/h8.5 sec
Curb Weight4003 lbs – 1815 kg
Fuel Economy (observed)23 MPG – 10.2 L/100 km
Price (as tested)$49,323 CAD

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