The Volkswagen Tiguan has been substantially revised for 2012. Designed for an active sporty lifestyle, the 2012 Tiguan delivers excellent performance on the road or over rugged terrain. The rear seat folds 40/20/40, creating cargo possibilities galore, and the standard tow hitch prep takes an available attachment that holds four bicycles. With a 2200-pound towing capacity, the Tiguan can pull a small boat.
The styling is revised for 2012, sleeker than before, while maintaining the Volkswagen family resemblance; in fact, if you look at a picture of all Volkswagens made, the noses all look the same, a smooth horizontal line of grille and headlamps, that stretches into a small smile.
All 2012 Tiguan models use a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with direct injection and variable valve timing. This engine has been around a long time and it's brilliant, now making 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque at a low 1700 rpm.
We found acceleration snappy and silky, while the engine is smooth and silent at high speeds, where the chassis is stable. In the Tiguan, 80 miles per hour feels like 60. In fact it's the smoothest four-cylinder we can think of. The Tiguan SE delivers a nice balance between smooth ride quality and stability at high speeds. Volkswagen says Tiguan is the GTI of compact SUVs.
Tiguan comes standard with front-wheel drive, but we highly recommend opting for the excellent 4Motion all-wheel drive.
Fuel mileage is decent, earning an EPA-rated 21/27 mpg City/Highway, an increase of 2 mpg over the previous (pre-2012) Tiguan, thanks largely to a taller sixth-gear ratio in the 6-speed automatic transmission, and lower-rpm shift points. These things are possible because of the engine's excellent torque, while making the driving dynamic smoother. We got 22.7 mpg running the Tiguan hard on the freeway, and easy around town.
The instrumentation is beautiful, and the clarity and simplicity of the touch screen and controls is outstanding. The interior materials are of a high quality, especially the V-Tex leatherette, which we couldn't tell from real leather. We recommend the optional Navigation system for its clarity and ease of use.
Volkswagen says that the Tiguan's main rivals are the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.
In addition to about 400 miles on the road, we drove the Tiguan at an event in the Northwest called Mudfest, where it competed in the compact SUV class against a Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke, and Subaru Impreza. The CX-5 won overall, but the Tiguan proved superior on the autocross course with its wonderful handling, and out on the highway with its smoothness at high speed. And in the mud, with the Tiguan's 4Motion all-wheel drive, only the sporty Mazda CX-5 could keep up.
The 2012 Tiguan earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in front, side and rear crash test evaluations.
The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan comes in four models, all using the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, with all-wheel drive available on three models. All use a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, except the base Tiguan S which comes with a 6-speed manual standard with a 6-speed automatic without manual mode optional.
Tiguan S ($22,840) is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Tiguan S with 4Motion all-wheel drive ($26,295) comes with the 6-speed automatic and alloy wheels. Tiguan S comes standard with cloth upholstery, reclining front seats with driver's lumbar adjustment, 40/20/40 folding rear seats, Bluetooth, intermittent wipers, eight-speaker sound system with in-dash CD player, full power, cruise control, 16-inch steel wheels, and tow hitch prep. Alloy wheels come with the Tiguan S automatic ($24,340), and there's a Tiguan S Sunroof model ($25,940) with a power tilt/sliding panoramic glass roof and tinted windows.
Tiguan LE ($25,175) and all other models come standard with the automatic. LE upgrades to V-Tex leatherette upholstery, tinted windows, heated front seats, and a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod cable.
Tiguan SE ($28,635) and SE 4Motion ($30,590) upgrade with a leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls, manual height adjustment for the front seat, fog and cornering lights, premium satellite radio, roof rails, heated front washer nozzles, and 18-inch alloy wheels. A Sunroof and Navigation model ($30,525) adds the power tilt/sliding panoramic glass sunroof, and a navigation system with five-inch color touchscreen. With 4Motion all-wheel drive it's $32,480.
Tiguan SEL ($33,975) and SEL 4Motion ($35,930) come with the sunroof and navigation, leather upholstery, and a sport suspension with 19-inch alloy wheels and 255/40 R19 all-season tires. It also adds silver-metallic interior trim, power adjustable driver seat with memory and power lumbar, Climatronic air conditioning, intermittent front windshield wipers with rain sensor, keyless entry with push-button start, power foldable/adjustable/heated exterior mirrors, Bi-Xenon headlights with low-beam assist, and LED daytime running lights. Tiguan SEL with Premium Navigation ($34,995) includes an upgraded navigation system with a 6.5-inch color high-resolution touchscreen display, integrated 30GB hard drive, and voice control. There's also an SEL with Premium Navigation and Dynaudio ($38,080) that adds standard 4Motion all-wheel drive and a Dynaudio premium sound system.
Safety equipment includes frontal and side-thorax airbags, airbag curtains, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitor, and Volkswagen's Intelligent Crash Response System that automatically shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard warning lights if the vehicle is involved in certain types of collisions.