For 2018, Volkswagen completely overhauled the Tiguan crossover. Its improvements are all good things, repairing complaints we’ve had with this vehicle in the past.

Quick Specs & Info

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Class: Small Crossover-SUV
Base Model As Tested: SE AWD
Powertrain 2.0L, Auto Powertrain 2.0L, Auto
Base MSRP $24,595 MSRP as tested ~$31,000

Overview

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is aimed squarely at small families and those who want a little fun factor in their small SUV. It’s got the capability to handle bad weather and occasional light offroading and adds to that some versatility for cargo and people hauling.

The 2018 VW Tiguan is about ten inches longer, has a third row, and far more cargo space than it had before. Yet it doesn’t lose its fun driving quality and spirited dynamic. Shoppers will be interested in that third row option, the 30 percent more cargo space this 2018 model offers, and the much-needed expansion of legroom for second row occupants.

All of these changes and upgrades don’t mean that the 2018 Tiguan is a lot more expensive, though. The new Tiguan is several thousand dollars cheaper than the outgoing model thanks in large part to regional development, more North American parts content, and the cost savings that come with the global platform design it sits upon. The Tiguan is now based on the same modular platform used for the Golf and the Atlas.

There are five trim packages for the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan, starting with the base model S and moving through the SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. We think most buyers will find their sweet spot in the SE trim level with its combination of value-oriented pricing and smart package options. The SEL may be a better mark for those looking to get a little more premium-level interior, including better upholstery options.

Trim Packages

  • S (base): The standard model includes 17-inch wheels, usable roof rails, heated side mirrors, automatic healamps, foglights, a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Volkswagen’s Car-Net App Connect, a USB port, and six-speaker sound. The optional Driver Assistance Package ads advanced and active safety items such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
  • SE: Adds to the S package with dual-zone climate control, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry/ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen with satellite and HD radio and voice command interface, two more USB ports, and the Driver Assistance package from the S. IT also adds Car-Net Security and Service, which allows remote access through a smartphone app and automatic crash notification. The only option is a panoramic sunroof.
  • SEL: Adds the sunroof to the SE package and upgrades to 18-inch wheels, a powered liftgate, remote start, adaptive cruise control, and a navigation upgrade for the infotainment (including Car-Net Guide and Inform). The optional R-Line package is available to add 19- wheels and sportier exterior styling elements.
  • SEL Premium: adds to the SEL with adaptive headlamps, automatic wipers, a hands-free liftgate, a digital gauge cluster, Fender surround-sound, a top-down (360) camera system, lane departure warning and intervention, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic high-beam control. The R-Line package adds 20-inch wheels and sportier exterior styling elements.

Exterior and Interior Design

Exterior design elements for the 2018 Tiguan are similar to the outgoing model, but with added emphasis on the vehicle’s fast paced appeal. Much like the new Atlas three-row model for the midsize segment, the Tiguan now has a bolder front fascia, more streamlined rear hatch, and strong body lines to push movement forward.

Inside, the 2018 VW Tiguan is fairly spartan in design compared to more upscale-oriented competitors. Yet the simplicity of the form is function interior is what makes Volkswagen popular among many buyers. This simple look doesn’t mean a lack of comfort, however, and this plain design doesn’t mean concrete benches and minimalistic hard plastics as the norm. Instead, the Tiguan’s interior uses firm, but well-padded seating and smart arrangements to make simplicity work well for it.

The front seats are in it for the long haul with just enough bolstering to keep one comfortable without adding too much push. Positions are very adaptable to various body types and the driver will find that the driver-centric design of the cockpit is very welcoming.

In the second row, seating is also comfortable – far more so than with previous generations of the Tiguan. The standard split-fold (40/20/40) bench has excellent outboard positions with enough adjustment to be contemporary. Cushioning is, again, very well done and legroom is among the best in this segment. The third row is entirely for kids, with a small amount of legroom and little thigh bolstering. Kids in child safety seats will do well in the third row.

Cargo space is very good in the 2018 Tiguan, sitting at about 37.6 cubic feet behind the second row and up to 73.5 cubic feet altogether. One note is that the third row does kill the under-floor storage that used to be a nice addition for the Tiguan. Towing in the Tiguan is rated at 1,500 pounds, when equipped.

Driving the 2018 Tiguan

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque in a fairly wide RPM band. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels of the Tiguan.

With a ride height producing a ground clearance of just under 8 inches, the Tiguan is no slouch when it comes to winter and off-pavement driving. On the road, the Tiguan is a good driver with plenty of umph and wonderful maneuverability. Punchy responses from the engine are only dampened during driving at-speed, which requires the eco-conscious lower RPM to be boosted before the turbocharger can kick in.

The EPA rates the 2018 VW Tiguan at 24 mpg combined in its FWD build and 23 mpg combined in its AWD format. The higher-end SEL and SEL Premium trims drop those by another point thanks to slightly heavier vehicle weights. Most drivers will easily hit the 27 mpg highway rating given to the Tiguan.

Competition

  • Chevrolet Equinox: The Equinox is a good vehicle with a great interior, but doesn’t measure up to the Tiguan in real-world drive quality or versatility.
  • Honda CR-V: A close competitor, the CR-V is a best-seller for good reason, but its lackluster transmission is a big downer compared to the fun of the VW Tiguan. The lower price of the Volkswagen is also a competing point.
  • Nissan Rogue: The Rogue is a great all-around vehicle and sells very well because of that. High fuel economy and smart design are good reasons to consider the Rogue, but those looking for more fun in their drive will be drawn to the Tiguan and its third row (which the Rogue no longer has).
  • Toyota RAV4: With the exception of the third row option, the RAV4 is the Tiguan’s equal in almost all respects. It’s not as punchy to drive, but it does have good MPG and smart design qualities that set it apart for sure.

Strong Points

  • Versatility of Design: The interior of the 2018 Tiguan is much more versatile than it was in previous generations and is now one of the best in the segment.
  • Drive Quality: The 2018 VW Tiguan has one of the best drive dynamics in the segment, with punchy returns from its turbocharged engine and a great steering dynamic to go with that.
  • Low Price Point: The Tiguan is consistently below others on the market in comparable price points and that should attract many buyers. Especially given its warranty.

Weaknesses

  • Turbo Can Be Slow: Uptake on the turbocharger can be slow, with a long lag between throttle push and engagement.
  • Fuel Economy: Some competitors are offering better fuel economy, including hybrid options, that just aren’t available with the Tiguan.

Conclusions

Whatever you think of the Tiguans of the past, it’s worth getting reaquainted with the Volkswagen Tiguan now as the 2018 model adds a lot. This new Tiguan is a far cry from the smaller, less useful models of old and brings some compelling arguments to the small crossover segment. The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is well worth consideration and is poised to become a best buy for sure.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Tiguan was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of 300 miles were put on the vehicle in varied driving conditions with various passenger and cargo loads.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.

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