2009 VW Tiguan SE 4Motion – Not Tig-u-yawn

The Tiguan is undoubtedly late to the cute-ute SUV market, and to make up for that it needs to make a remarkable and dramatic entrance. What we get though is a well finished, refined and versatile family car in off-roader Touareg drag for a premium price.

If you’re looking at the Tiguan as a Touareg hit by a shrink-ray – ready to hit the back roads, but with friendlier, more approachable and “safer” feeling chunky looks you’re in for a little bit of disappointment. Considering its Jetta platform the Tiguan is to emasculated for anything but a bit of slick road on the way to the ski-hill when equipped with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

So it won’t take you to the end of the world post apocalypse, but for every day road usage the VW cute-ute handles better than you’d expect of a tall wagon. The Tiguan remains well planted on the twists and never feels out of sorts even if your in the mood to cane it a bit. There’s ample traction regarless of weather, the body-movement is well controlled in the turns and the Tiguan steers accurately.

The handling allowed us to take advantage of our tester’s gutsy turbocharged 2.0-liter mill, which slurps back the premium to pump out 200 hp and 207 lbs-ft of torque. While that power is channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission, it still enough to whip the Tiguan to 60 mph in just under eight seconds. Not shabby at all.

The cost of performance is a firm ride, but the VW isn’t near as abusive as the BMW X3, or as bland as a Toyota RAV4. Meanwhile the interior is roomy, quiet and provides a good high point of view. The cabin materials are first-rate and finish is premium, though a few of the aluminum accents look out of place, in a vehicle this conservative feeling. And, let’s face it, the eight dashboard AC vents seem like overkill. Still the firm and supportive seats, especially the theater-style raised rears score high points for comfort (even if the elevation cuts into the rear headroom).

For storage though, it would be nice if the rear seats could fold completely flat to increase the 1,510L of cargo space even further beyond that of the RAV4’s.

Negatives? There are a couple biggies. The main reason you’d switch from a mega-meal SUV to a cute-ute is fuel economy, but the Tiguan only manages 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway.

The other problem is the price. All of the four different trim levels VW offers for the Tiguan, ranging from basic front-wheel drive through to our top of the line 4MOTION all-wheel drive tester run from $27,575 to $38,375 (excluding options and taxes). So no matter how light the Tiguan is on it’s feet, the price weighs in heavy.

Tiguan may be cute-ish, comfortable and fun enough to drive that it avoids the name Tig-a-yawn, but the fuel economy and price will likely dissuade all but stalwart Vee-dubbers from looking at more economical options.


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