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#8

in 2011 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $14,421 - $20,947
Original MSRP: $23,720 - $37,390
MPG: 18 City / 26 Hwy
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2011 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. However, relatively low fuel economy ratings and premium fuel make the Tiguan pricey, and once you factor in the available all-wheel drive, average fuel economy decreases, and the amount you’re pay at the pump goes up.

  • "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
  • "The 2011 VW Tiguan might not have the most impressive acceleration in the segment, but the torquey power delivery of its turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes it feel lively around town or when passing slower vehicles." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Tiguan has a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that makes 200 horsepower.

There are different transmission options. The base S model is the only trim that comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission. Want an automatic? That’ll add about $1,100 to the base S, which starts at $23,485. The six-speed automatic Triptonic transmission is standard on the SE and SEL trims. Triptonic allows the driver to control gear changes by tapping the shifter up or down; drivers can also let the transmission shift automatically.

While test drivers like the Tiguan’s performance, its fuel economy ratings are not best in class. According to the EPA, the six-speed manual averages 18/26 mpg city/highway, and the six-speed automatic nets 20/25 mpg city/highway. These numbers decrease with 4motion, Volkswagen’s all-wheel drive system. If you choose this $1,950 option, expect to net 19/25 mpg city/highway.

Shoppers should also note that the Tiguan uses premium fuel, so if this SUV is at the top of your price range, you might consider a different SUV. Check out the Hyundai Tucson, Chevrolet Equinox or Honda CR-V. They have better fuel economy ratings, and as a result, they will save you more. For example, if you choose the Tucson, you’ll pay about $1,571 a year for gasoline, which is a lot less than the Tiguan’s annual fuel cost of $2,013. You’ll save $442, money that could contribute to household expenses.  

  • "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
  • "Nonetheless, we recommend a manual transmission for spirited driving and the Tiguan is the only SUV/Crossover in the segment that offers do-it-yourself-shifting." -- egmCarTech
  • "We found the six-speed manual somewhat lacking, with long throws and too much play between gears." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “Lively turbocharged engine." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Tiguan handles extremely well and drives more like a car than an SUV, which is a good thing. A 4Motion all-wheel drive system with adaptive torque distribution is optional with the SE 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, it’ll cost about $2,000 after you upgrade to the SE or SEL trim.

  • "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. The Volkswagen is the shortest overall in this herd, riding on the least wheelbase." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Tiguan's ride is fine so long as the pavement below remains smooth, and the steering response, braking and the overall drivability are above average for this class." -- Kelley Blue Book

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