Updated: Apr 1, 2022
It's enlightening, a bit weird and occasionally embarrassing when you've been writing about cars for some time to go back and see what you said a long time ago. Most of my TV and radio reviews from 1997 to 2008 have been lost to the ether, but I began my online autojourno-ing in the summer of 2008 with the old TireKicker site. And one of the first ten reviews I wrote there was about the just-introduced 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan.
To my relief, my review, if a bit brief and under-illustrated (I was still figuring out the whole online thing) holds up. The Tiguan has, for the most part, lived up to its promise over the past 13 years. And it now sits in the middle of a three-SUV family of Volkswagens---in between the larger Atlas (and Atlas Cross Sport), and the smaller Taos (let's assume the electric ID.4 is its own thing for now).
Of the three, it's arguably the "just right" choice---a small three-row SUV (if you get a front-wheel drive Tiguan, the third row is standard---it's not available on the 4MOTION AWD model we tested). If you need a bit more room with those three rows, then the Atlas is right there.
Under the hood is VW's now-venerable 2.0-liter turbocharged four. At 184 horsepower, it's better than its numbers suggest, and not giving into playing the on-paper numbers game allows it to deliver on fuel economy, with an EPA-estimated 21 miles per gallon city, 28 highway. Credit the eight-speed automatic transmission with some of that, too.
Our tester had 4MOTION, VW's all-wheel drive system with active control and selectable drive modes. There's a crispness to the steering and handling that makes the Tiguan a lot more fun than most SUVs in its class.
Plenty of room for five people and their things rounds out the package. Our tester was the R-Line, a sporty trim package. Base price is $36,595. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are 20-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, dual-zone climate control and a Fender premium audio system.
And that's it---zero extra-cost options, so with $1,195 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4-MOTION R-Line is $37,790.
And that hits a sweet spot in terms of pricing, too---right in the heart of the segment and actually a bit lower than the average price for a new car in this country this year. It has personality its smaller sibling Taos lacks and is more sensibly-sized than the big Atlas.
You know. Just right.