$17,478 - $26,448

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan was new.


Performance: 7.2

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact SUV made for cruising. It delivers a smooth ride and absorbs road imperfections easily. But if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient or dynamic driving machine, you should probably look elsewhere. The Tiguan’s engine feels sluggish at times, and its mpg ratings trail most rivals’. There’s also a fair amount of body roll around turns, with less handling precision than the previous generation offered.

  • "When you stop to think about it, the seemingly simple act of driving around town is actually a pretty complex symphony of starting, steering and stopping. And the Tiguan plays every page with ease and grace. Excellent steering and pedal response … contribute to an overall driving feel that's among the best in the segment. Even the eco-conscious automatic engine start/stop system is better than most, with forward motion engaged barely a beat after lifting off the brake pedal." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Though the Tiguan is enjoyable enough to drive, don't expect VW GTI levels of playfulness. Unlike the previous version, the new Tiguan is not among the sportiest small SUVs, falling behind its main rivals, the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5." -- Consumer Reports
  • "I must warn you that there will more than likely be multiple occasions where you will want for more power, as the 184 horsepower from this tweaked 2.0-liter engine is abruptly disappointing, particularly on the heavier AWD models. And then there's the troublesome gas mileage to worry about." -- Jalopnik

Acceleration and Power

The redesigned Tiguan comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 184 horsepower. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain is unimpressive. It has adequate power for city driving, but the acceleration is lackluster, and this sports utility vehicle can feel underpowered on the highway. The transmission isn’t terrible, but it occasionally hesitates to shift.

An uninspiring powertrain could be overlooked if the Tiguan delivered in other ways; if it provided great gas mileage, for example. Alas, it doesn’t. According to EPA estimates, the base Tiguan gets 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive Tiguan gets roughly the same ratings: 21/27 mpg city/highway. Either way, this Volkswagen’s fuel economy trails nearly every other compact SUV’s.

  • "The new engine is sluggish off the line as we climb from Denver up into the surrounding mountains, snaking through twisting ribbons of pavement and rough dirt roads aboard a front-wheel-drive Tiguan with three rows. … Even in the meat of the rev range, … the engine feels coarse and resistant. It doesn't help that the eight-speed automatic transmission is occasionally lazy to downshift, although this can be mitigated by switching the shift lever into Sport." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "On the road, the new car was easygoing and user-friendly. The engine and transmission provided prompt responses when you hit the gas pedal, but don't expect any breathtaking power. The eight-speed automatic is okay, but it suffers from a few hiccups in stop-and-go traffic. The engine's stop-start isn't the smoothest, either, but you can turn it off easily with a button." -- Consumer Reports
  • "From the start, we noted a lack of power. Step hard on the throttle, and you'll have to count a couple Mississippis before the power gets down to the wheels. Despite its turbo, the Tiguan felt sluggish from 0 to about 30 mph at more than a mile high. … Once at freeway speeds, the Tiguan will swiftly pass 18-wheelers as you step on the throttle. We hope to see a more powerful engine in a midcycle refresh." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive comes standard in the Tiguan; all-wheel drive is available. The AWD system isn’t a world-beater, but it fares pretty well during inclement weather and away from the pavement, as long as you don’t get carried away.

The previous Tiguan tended to remind drivers of the larger Volkswagen Golf, but the redesign heavily prioritized comfort over sportiness. As a result, the redesigned Tiguan delivers a cushioned ride even when the pavement deteriorates, but it also has plenty of body lean around corners and steering that feels vague at times. Many other compact SUVs are more athletic than this VW.

  • "The Tiguan also clearly isn't a rock-crawler or a rally car, but you shouldn't expect it to be. The AWD will get you through a rain storm or a muddy patch just fine, but the stability control might freak out on you on a gravel road. It's more serviceable than entertaining, so I wouldn't suggest you try having too much fun with it." -- Jalopnik
  • "On the plus side, the Tiguan rides like a dream. It tracks confidently down the highway. Potholes and expansion joints are of little concern …, while bumpy dirt roads don't transmit much in the way of nasty vibrations into the cabin. Germany engineered the Tiguan to satisfy Americans' preference for easy driving, and in that respect it's spot-on. The brakes, too, are not overly grabby and intuitive to modulate." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The key downside to the new Tiguan's ballooning size is that it loses the previous-generation's Golf-on-stilts character, which made it one of the more entertaining small crossovers to drive. The new Tiguan is less eager. It rides softly and rolls considerably in corners. … Volkswagen clearly prioritized quiet comfort over athleticism, and the Tiguan tracks straight down the freeway and features a quiet and plush ride, qualities that will please family-minded shoppers." -- Car and Driver

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