The U.S.-market Tiguan is something of an in-betweener, larger than most direct competitors yet smaller than every conventional three-row SUV. The first-generation Tiguan was introduced for the 2007 model year, and the current second-generation model went on sale for 2018 with an available third row. It received a midcycle refresh for 2022 with an overhauled trim and pricing structure.
Volkswagen fine-tuned the Tiguan for 2022 and made some incremental improvements. Where we once felt the engine and transmission pairing lacked refinement, VW seems to have fixed these issues with the updated model. The same goes for the once disjointed ride dynamics. Now, "handling and grip is beyond adequate for its intended purpose" when the 2022 Tiguan is pushed hard on twisty roads. Otherwise, VW has made some improvements in the cabin that add premium touches to the interior like standard heated front seats and a standard digital gauge cluster.
The Tiguan's available third row is part of its on-paper appeal, but anyone taller than a child will be miserable back there—it's tiny. The pre-refresh Tiguan placed near the bottom of our compact crossover rankings. For it to improve, we'll have to put the 2022 model through our testing regimen.
The Tiguan's sole engine offering is a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that produces 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission, driving the front wheels as standard or Volkswagens' 4Motion AWD system optionally. In MotorTrend testing, a 4Motion-equipped Tiguan accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy should be close to the 2021 Tiguan's 23/29 mpg city/highway for FWD models, and 21/27 mpg for AWD models.
Standard driver-assist and active safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers are included on all trim levels above the base.
The Tiguan manages to fit three rows of seats into its compact footprint, although its third row is extraordinarily cramped. Tiguan models with FWD have the third row as standard, but AWD models make it optional.
The Tiguan's front-row headroom measures 39.6 inches (in the pre-2022 model; we don't expect any changes with interior specs), which compares to 40.3 inches in the Kia Sorento, a slightly more expensive SUV that also has an occasional-use third row. Second-row headroom is 39.3 inches in three-row models or 38.9 inches in two-row models, both close to the Sorento's 39.1 inches. There are just 33.8 inches of headroom in the third row of Tiguans so equipped, less than the 36.8 inches found in the Sorento's standard third row.
Front-row legroom is 40.2 inches in the Tiguan, slightly less than the Sorento's 41.4 inches. Second-row legroom measures 38.7 inches in two-row Tiguan models and 36.5 inches in three-row models, both trailing the Sorento's 41.7 inches by quite a lot. Third-row legroom is a torturous 27.9 inches in the Volkswagen, although the Kia's 29.6 inches isn't much better.
Cargo space measures 12.0 cubic feet in Tiguans equipped with the third-row seat. Folding it down increases capacity to 33.3 cubic feet, while folding the second row as well takes maximum cargo space to 65.7 cubic feet.
It's a slightly different situation in two-row Tiguans. With the second-row seats upright cargo capacity measures 37.6 cubic feet, which increases to 73.5 cubes when those seats are folded down.
For 2022 the Tiguan receives a digital gauge display, measuring 8.0 inches as standard or 10.3 inches in higher-end trims. The standard infotainment touchscreen measures 6.5 inches, and increases to 8.0 inches in higher-end models.
The larger screen runs Volkswagen's updated MIB3 user interface with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and brings USB type-C ports in the first and second rows along with a wireless charging pad. Built-in navigation is available. On the steering wheel there are now touch-capacitive buttons, similar to what was added to the recently refreshed Arteon. A six-speaker audio system is standard, and a nine-speaker Fender premium setup is available. A 360-degree parking camera system is optional or included depending on trim.
Let's make something clear: The Tiguan's driving performance isn't sporty. Nevertheless, Volkswagen's R-Line package helps it look like it is. On the Tiguan's exterior, the R-Line package adds aero-influenced front and rear bumpers, quad (fake) exhaust outlets, and package-specific alloy wheels.
Inside, the Tiguan R-Line gets metal pedal covers and a flat-bottom steering wheel with big thumb detents that actually feels really nice. Nothing changes under the hood, but the R-Line package gives the Tiguan more curbside appeal.
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