In a nod to American tastes, the all-new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is larger – both inside and out – than the outgoing model. A spacious interior, comfortable seats, and a class-leading warranty are offset by middling performance and merely average fuel economy.

Best Value

2018 Tiguan pricing starts at $26,095 for a front-wheel drive base S model and runs up to $38,940 for an all-wheel-drive SEL Premium trim equipped with the optional R-Line Package and finished in Habanero Orange Metallic. All models are covered by a comprehensive six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper transferable warranty.

With only one engine and transmission, we'd opt for the SE (rather than the fully loaded SEL we tested) because it offers upgrades over the base S trim that make sense: easier-to-clean faux leather seats, keyless remote with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver's seat, and a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite radio capability.

A rearview camera is standard across the lineup, but stepping up to the SE also adds forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and access to a panoramic sunroof.

  • Model: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 184 hp / 221 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 21 City / 27 Hwy
  • Options: Panoramic Sunroof ($1,200, panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting)
  • Base Price: $31,130 (including a $900 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$32,330

Performance

Volkswagen Tiguan

The second-generation Tiguan features a smooth, controlled ride and predictable handling. Irregular pavement and large bumps are absorbed with ease, with enough suspension compliance that very little of what Michigan's winter havoc did to road surfaces makes its way into the cabin. Straight-line handling is solid, steering feedback is above average, and fuel economy, at an EPA-estimated 24 miles per gallon combined for the four-wheel-drive model, is decent for the class.

Looking at the spec sheet, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood appears to be promising: it's turbocharged, with sixteen fewer horses, but fourteen more lb-ft of torque than the outgoing model – with the peak twist at just 1,600 rpm – and mated to a modern eight-speed transmission.

As expected, the Tiguan steps off the line smartly. But the initial rush of acceleration quickly tapers off as the transmission, programmed for quick upshifts to maximize fuel efficiency, rapidly runs through the gears. You also have to really put your foot into it to force a downshift, as the transmission isn’t as willing as it should be.

Noticeable body lean occurs even in mild cornering and steering feel is on the light side. But what little feedback the Tiguan sends through the chassis reminds drivers of its German heritage – this crossover is calm and composed in everyday conditions, to the point that we’re willing to ignore performance handling foibles instigated by its consumer-friendly nature.

Style

Like the Atlas, the Tiguan more closely resembles a throwback two-box SUV than the slickly-styled crossovers that increasingly dominate American roads, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The conventional shape translates into more usable space behind the second row.

Along with its overall shape, the Tiguan shares the same corporate horizontal grille, bumpers, and lower front fascia with its larger stablemate, the Atlas. Volkswagen has also done a nice job in designing the Tiguan's rear fascia, with clean shapes and crisp taillights.

The Tiguan's interior is versatile and conservative. The infotainment system – a 6.5-inch touchscreen on base models and an eight-inch unit everywhere else – sits in the middle of a horizontal dash. No matter the arrangement, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard. First and second row seating is firm and supportive, while, thanks to its boxy exterior – which is a nearly a foot longer than the old Tiguan – the cargo area boasts 33 cubic feet with the back row folded and 65.7 cubic feet behind the first row on three-row models. Those figures rise to 37.6 cubic feet behind the back seats and 73.5 cubic feet with the second row folded on two-row, all-wheel-drive models.

On the flip side, three adults will find accommodations tight in the second row, while buyers considering an all-wheel-drive model should review their needs before opting for the available third-row. Not only is it best suited for children, it also reduces cargo capacity, even when folded. Finally, despite the Tiguan's increased length, cargo space behind the second row – even on two-row models – is 1.6 cu ft less than the shorter Honda CR-V.

Overall fit and finish is very good, but the cabin’s doors and lower dash are finished in hard, black plastic trim. This might – we say might – be something we'd endure on a base S model, but it’s frustrating on a vehicle like our SEL Premium tester with an MSRP – including $295 for Habanero Orange Metallic paint – of $37,445. The disappointing cabin is the worst part of buying a high-end Tiguan, particularly when you consider a fully loaded Mazda CX-5 costs over $4,000 less and is a much prettier place to hang out.

The Best and Worst Things

Toss out any preconceptions, as the 2018 Tiguan's roomier interior is a big step up from the previous model.

The cabin is really disappointing, particularly on pricier models. Hard, cheap-feeling black plastic is no surprise in this segment, but its abundance on the Tiguan is frustrating.

Right For? Wrong For?

Volkswagen Tiguan

Slick, restrained styling, a roomy interior, and a class-leading bumper-to-bumper warranty should attract value-oriented buyers to the new Tiguan.

Early peak torque and an eight-speed transmission not eager to downshift will have enthusiast crossover buyers looking elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

A big improvement over the previous generation in every way, only a lack of sportiness and average fuel economy keep the 2018 Tiguan from being a top contender in the compact crossover class.