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#4

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,767 - $18,957
Original MSRP: $23,200 - $33,500
MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy
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2010 Volkswagen Tiguan Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Tiguan's turbocharged engine takes it from 0 to 60 in 7.8 seconds -- not too shabby for an SUV. Test drivers also love its sporty driving dynamics and appreciate its optional manual transmission. But relatively low fuel economy is the downside to the Tiguan’s peppy performance.

To see how the Tiguan performs, check out our Tiguan video.

  • "Here's what the Tiguan is: a GTI on stilts. No surprise, then, that it earned best-handling status, backed up by the surest brake feel and perfectly weighted, accurate steering. Part of its goat-like nimbleness can be attributed to its diminutive dimensions." -- Car and Driver
  • "While the other vehicles in the segment feel like SUVs, the VW is different; it is downright fun. It handles well, responds quickly and does not suffer from body roll." -- Road and Track
  • "There's no question that the Tiguan is competent in its class, with plenty of power, good handling and even a sporting orientation with the easy-shifting six-speed manual transmission." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • "The Tiguan leans in turns more than your average sedan, but the steering is communicative, though not overly quick, and the vehicle tracks nicely. We didn't get bored after a few miles in the twisties like we might in a RAV4 or CR-V. The brakes felt competent at all times." -- New Car Test Drive

Acceleration and Power

The Tiguan comes with 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Base S models come with a six-speed manual transmission, while Wolfsburg and SEL models come with a six-speed automatic. Test drivers say the engine provides more than enough power, though a few of them have complaints about the transmissions.

While power is a plus for the Tiguan, fuel economy isn’t. According to the EPA, the FWD Tiguan achieves 19/26 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 18/24 with the automatic. The AWD model should net 18/24 mpg. These figures are on the low side for the compact SUV class. In fact, only a few SUVs do worse, and all of them are truck-based, off-road types (the Jeep Wrangler, for example). An important consideration is that the Tiguan also requires premium fuel, which means it will be more expensive to fill up than most competitors.

For better fuel economy, look at the Mazda CX-7. It costs $1,500 less than the Tiguan and also has an especially sport driving experience. On top of that, it has a higher 20/28 fuel economy rating. However, to get that good fuel economy you’ll have to stick with the four-cylinder 161-horsepower base engine, which can’t match the Tiguan for power. The available turbocharged engine makes 244 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 60 even faster than the Tiguan, but it nets even worse fuel economy.

  • "In most situations Tiguan has ample power, but some turbo lag is noticeable--particularly when exiting a slow corner. The manual transmission has smooth shift and clutch action. The automatic shifts smoothly in automatic or manual mode." -- Consumer Guide
  • "This VW might have given the Toyota [RAV4] a stronger run for its money but for a pair of faults. First, its turbocharged inline-four is strangely noisy -- the Tiguan was loudest at a 70-mph cruise and at idle. Second, in straightforward ‘D’ mode, the automatic transmission proved dimwitted -- agonizingly slow to kick down, agonizingly quick to grab fifth or sixth.” -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2.0 TSI Engine has 207 lbs-ft of torque -- the highest in its class, so when you tell the Tiguan to go, it does not hesitate. The gearbox for those who opt for the manual transmission in the S model is considered sloppy so it is probably best to avoid it." -- Automobile.com
  • "Once we got to some dry, open roads we let the Tiguan show off a bit-pushing triple-digit speeds on some stretches. No doubt, there's a potent motor under that hood." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The turbocharged mill lets the Tiguan easily keep pace, but there is no ascertainable onset of boost -- no sudden, deep breath followed by an onslaught of power like in the GTI." -- MSN

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Tiguan handles extremely well and is very fun to drive. A 4MOTION all-wheel drive system with adaptive torque distribution is optional for Wolfsburg and SEL models. Reviewers say the system works well and is a great option for drivers who live in snowy or rainy climates. But it doesn’t come cheap. Since the system requires upgrading to the Wolfsburg model, it adds about $6,500 on to the Tiguan’s price.

  • "True to its Rabbit roots, the Tiguan puts a sporty spin on the compact-SUV mantra, although the spirit of tossability is predictably diluted by the SUV's mass, which ranges from 300 to 400 additional pounds over the diminutive hatchback." -- Car and Driver
  • "We wouldn't categorize it as a performance SUV, but its car roots are obvious. The feeling behind the wheel is that of a raised car, and a fairly sporty one at that." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Tiguan handled the twisty two-lane with accurate steering and little lean in the tight corners." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In corners, the Tiguan's body remains poised. Most compact SUVs tend to skate over rough surfaces, but the Tiguan remains firmly planted while tracking steadily. To add an extra measure of durability for rough road use, there's high-strength steel in the frame plus heavy-duty dampers." -- Edmunds
  • "With the infamous, ever changing weather of Colorado's front range, we got a chance to test out the 4Motion system in snow, sleet and rain. The vehicle provided confidence and steady control on the road. And as much as we like real 4X4s, we enjoyed the convenience of never having to shift a lever or push a four-wheel-drive button." -- Popular Mechanics

Next Steps: 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan

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