The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan is past due for a full redesign, but this does happen to be one small crossover SUV that’s aging pretty well. As you might expect from Volkswagen, the Tiguan successfully bridges the gap between mainstream and upscale. True, it costs a little more than the everyday small crossovers, but in return you get above-average performance and refinement, along with a certain amount of exclusivity.
One thing that definitely doesn’t need updating is the way this VW drives. "Ho-hum" doesn’t translate to German, apparently, because the Tiguan’s punchy turbocharged 4-cylinder engine will keep you fully alert on the morning commute. The interior design and materials also are a noticeable cut above what you get in mainstream rivals, and the drive is smooth and composed aside from the tautly sprung R-Line.
That said, many newer compact crossovers match or best the Tiguan. The 2015 Mazda CX-5 is an excellent all-arounder that is similarly fun to drive and also boasts a high-quality interior. We also like the 2015 Ford Escape because of its nimble road manners, strong turbocharged engine and leading-edge technologies. The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V, meanwhile, won’t be as fun to drive but it’s got utility and value down to a science. Notably, all of the above offer significantly more cargo space than the Tiguan, too. But if you’re looking for upscale, European character from a small crossover SUV, the 2015 Tiguan is certainly worth a look.
We’re impressed by the 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan’s 200-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It’s powerful in just about any situation, and its 6-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. The standard Tiguan isn’t particularly sporty when you’re driving around turns, as it’s primarily about comfort, but there’s still plenty of poise, which is remarkable given how smoothly and quietly this VW rides. The R-Line upsets that equilibrium a bit, thanks to firmer suspension tuning and larger wheels that transmit additional impact harshness into the cabin. In general, though, the Tiguan provides an enjoyable driving experience.
The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in five trim levels: S, SE, SE with Appearance, SEL and R-Line.
The entry-level S comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, roof rails, trailer-hitch prep, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, eight-way manual front seats with adjustable lumbar, 40/20/40-split-folding rear seats, fore-and-aft sliding and reclining for the rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen interface and an eight-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a six-CD changer, an SD-card slot, an auxiliary sound jack and an iPod cable.
The SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and a power-recline function for the driver seat.
The SE with Appearance trim adds 18-inch wheels, foglights, chrome exterior trim, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition and power recline for the passenger seat.
The SEL adds a navigation system, a premium Fender sound system and dual-zone automatic climate control.
At the top of the Tiguan food chain, the R-Line trim throws in 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport body kit, automatic wipers, power-folding side mirrors, leather upholstery, full power front seats (with driver power lumbar), driver memory settings, special interior accents and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Compared to other small crossovers, the 2015 Tiguan swims against that current with a subtle, sophisticated interior that looks and feels first-rate. You sit pleasingly high and upright in the firm front seats, and all models now come equipped with a rearview camera that displays through the standard touchscreen interface. The Tiguan has yet to get on the big-screen bandwagon, however, as the humble 5-inch screen looks undersized by today’s standards. Its rudimentary graphics don’t exactly give off a contemporary vibe, either.
Legroom in the rear seats can feel a little pinched with taller folks up front, but most occupants will find plenty of headroom, and the reclining seatbacks and 6 inches of fore-aft seat travel help maximize the space. The useful 40/20/40-split-folding rear seatbacks enable passengers to occupy the two outboard seats while long items rest on the folded middle section.
With the rear seats upright but slid fully forward, the Tiguan’s cargo area can hold 23.8 cubic feet, while folding down the rear seatbacks makes for a 56.1-cubic-foot cargo space. That’s well short of what most competitors offer, such as the 70-plus cubic feet of the CR-V and Toyota RAV4 and even the 65 cubic feet of the CX-5.
The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also standard, but parking sensors are not available. VW’s Car-Net telematics system is included with every Tiguan and provides automatic crash notification, remote car access, stolen car location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers). A Car-Net smartphone app lets owners control many of these functions on the go.
In government crash tests, the Tiguan garnered four stars out of a possible five for overall crash protection, with three stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tiguan its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests, but in the newer small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Tiguan received a "Marginal" rating (second worst of four).
In SUVS brake testing, a Tiguan R-Line came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 130 feet, a somewhat longer than average result for the class.
The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard. Front-wheel drive is also standard, and all-wheel drive is available for any Tiguan trim level.
In SUVS performance testing, a front-wheel-drive Tiguan with the automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds, a fairly quick time for a compact crossover.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive Tiguan is 23 miles per gallon combined (21 city/26 highway), while all-wheel-drive models also achieve 23 miles per gallon combined (20 city/26 highway). That’s underwhelming compared to current 4-cylinder compact crossovers, though the Tiguan does serve up more power than most.
Refined drive and handling balance (except R-Line); quiet at speed; premium interior; punchy turbocharged performance.
The 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan is getting on in years, but it’s still an appealing compact crossover SUV, particularly if you want one with an upscale character.