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.