The SUV wars have forced many automakers to rethink and change the way they approach certain segments of the SUV market. That has included Volkswagen which has shifted gears in its attempts to woo customers. It wasn’t too long ago that buyers could purchase a standard Golf hatchback, but the surging popularity of models like the Tiguan and the recently launched Volkswagen Taos forced the Golf to be a Europe only offering with the performance infused GTI and R models being the two sole remaining members of its species. The Tiguan in particular has become a key part of Volkswagen’s new identity with its sales helping keep the proverbial lights on. But has the Tiguan finally gained the driving manners it needs to balance out some of its functionality?
Tiguan Wears A Sportier Suit Of Clothes
The exterior styling of our 2022 R-Line grade examples will undoubtedly turn plenty of heads when it makes the rounds through town. The standard Tiguan has always lacked some of the stage presence that has defined a few of its rivals, with Volkswagen designers clearly preferring the Tiguan to be more of a reserved entry versus some of the wilder designs wielded by a few of its rivals.
The R-Line package is a welcome step in the right direction with the package being available either on SE or range-topping models like our SEL tester. The package adds a sharper body kit with bigger 20-inch alloy wheels enhancing the side profile of the SUV (SE models get slightly smaller 19-inch wheels.) That said, we’re disappointed to see that VW bean counters kept color options limited to core hues like grey, white, or black with no bright colors to make things really pop. The closest thing that VW offers to color excitement here is Atlantic Blue Metallic and we recommend either this hue or black over the grey and white paint.
The rest of the exterior styling is core Tiguan but it has been tweaked a bit to help the SUV have more of a resemblance to the bigger Atlas. The head and taillights are now full-LED units and buyers can even add an optional illuminated grille that runs along the center of the chrome grille and helps unify the two lights into one complete piece. The Tiguan might not have as much styling presence as the Mazda CX-5, but the Tiguan makes up for it by striking a better balance of design and practical application of certain details.
Longer Wheelbase Helps Tiguan Get Edge In Interior Appointments
A big advantage that the Volkswagen Tiguan has over some of its rivals is that it has a longer wheelbase with all Tiguans having 109.9 inches of it to work with. That’s in stark contrast to the Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5 which only offer 104.7 and 106.2 inches of length respectively. That extra length allows the interior of the VW to be a very roomy place to spend time in with the second row, in particular, offering plenty of space to stretch out and relax. There’s also an optional third row but that space is best left to children with adults who venture back there finding cramped head and legroom.
The rest of the cabin is awash in standard equipment with buyers getting standard heated seats. Moving up to certain trim levels allows buyers to get optional cooled leather seats which allow the Tiguan to have true four-season capability. Our tester’s 10.3-inch infotainment screen is bright and colorful with the Fender eight-speaker premium audio system delivering the goods in sound quality. However, the touch-capacitive controls are frustrating and they erode some of the joy of operating the system. While they look good and work reasonably well when the Tiguan is parked, things go in a very ugly direction when they are asked to access various functions while on the move.
That’s further aggravated by the lack of response that you get from the system sometimes and as a result it requires you to double-check to make sure that you accessed the feature you’re trying to get to. That increases distraction and in turn, adds to the frustration of using the capacitive buttons in daily commuting.
Familiar Performance Hardware Underpins Driving Experience
Performance for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is the equivalent of a best hits album, with the familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder getting the call to service. It’s still a trustworthy engine but it doesn’t bring anything new to the fight and it’s also aging too. Most buyers won’t notice though and will instead enjoy the 184 hp and 227 lb-ft of torque that it brings to the party.
It’s not the most thrilling engine out there, but during our time with it, the 2.0 liter proved to be more than capable in city driving with the engine occasionally surprising us with its available amounts of low-end torque. However, VW is chasing fuel economy here and while the 26 and 25 combined mpg that front and all-wheel-drive models get is commendable, it comes at the cost of performance with the 2.0 liter preferring to take its time going through the motions with noticeable lag when you push the throttle down.
Handling and braking in our tester is roughly what you would expect from an urban-focused SUV with the electronically assisted steering system delivering feedback that was light but predictable with our tester doing a good job of snaking its way through tight urban streets. The Tiguan is not as sharp as a GTI but that’s not the point here with the SUV focusing on delivering the goods when it comes to utility and hauling people.
The Tiguan is competing in a hotly contested pool of the SUV segment with a base SE model starting at $26,295 before any fees are thrown into the equation. Volkswagen simplified the Tiguan model lineup for 2022 and as a result, buyers will only have four flavors to choose from. Our SEL R-Line tester is the range-topping member of the family and it has a pre-fee base sticker of $32,605. Our lightly optioned example had a light layer of options which helped our tester stay firmly under $35,000 before fees and other associated costs.
That’s firmly in the running with the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V which have both stepped up their respective utility games in recent years. This pricing also puts it in the running with the 2022 Chevrolet Equinox a key bread and butter sales machine for GM. The Equinox benefitted from a recent mid-cycle update, but it has a smaller 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and it lacks some of the polish that the Tiguan is known for.
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is a classic example of Volkswagen sticking to a tried and true formula. The company made some slight updates to help spice some things up for the new model year, but it thankfully didn’t rock the boat too much and with its Atlas inspired styling updates, look for the Tiguan to enhance its curb appeal among Volkswagen fans for years to come.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.