2009 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SE 4MotionPosted on June 18th, 2008
New compact utility vehicle with sports car appeal
By Nina Russin
As the rising cost of gas forces drivers out of their full-sized trucks, automakers are trying to make the idea of downsizing more palatable. Rather than bringing a bland utility vehicle to market, Volkswagen is infusing the 2009 Tiguan with the sporty performance of its popular GTI.
The Tiguan isn’t an inexpensive car: base price on the all-wheel drive test car is $28,875, not including the $690 delivery charge. And while its average fuel economy of twenty miles per gallon is better than the full-sized Touareg, the Tiguan isn’t exactly a gas miser. But it has the power and performance many direct competitors lack, along with a versatile cargo area, roof rails, moderate off-road capability, and a really cool panoramic sunroof.
The test car is the SE grade: one of two available trim levels with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Power comes from a turbocharged two-liter engine rated at 200 horsepower, and six-speed automatic transmission. The Tiguan accelerates from zero-to-sixty in just under eight seconds, and has a top speed of 129 miles-per-hour.
Turbocharging gives the Tiguan exceptional low-end torque. Driving the car on city streets and highways, it feels very much like a Volkswagen sport sedan. A high level of torsional rigidity results in excellent steering feedback at all speeds. Engineers used lightweight construction materials whenever possible to minimize curb weight and enhance gas mileage.
Standard seventeen-inch wheels on the SE grade provide a stable footprint, while a fully independent suspension gives the Tiguan responsive ride and handling. Four-wheel disc brakes, standard on all trim levels, stop better on wet pavement and are easier to service than drums.
Its short wheelbase makes the Tiguan easy to maneuver through crowded streets, or on narrow off-road trails. Seven inches of ground clearance is enough to clear tree roots or rocks on unimproved roads; however, the engine compartment is not designed for fording water. Towing capacity is 2200 pounds: not enough to meet our minimum ALV standards.
The test car comes with three options: a navigation system with rearview backup assist camera and a multimedia socket ($1950), rear side airbags ($350), and the power panoramic sunroof ($1300).
Smartly designed interior
I found a lot to love in the Tiguan’s interior: as the architect Mies van de Rohe once said, “God is in the details.” The upgraded cloth upholstery is attractive and practical: it stays relatively cool in the Phoenix summer heat. The SE grade comes with an eight-way partial power driver’s seat and eight-way manually adjustable passenger seat. Lower back support is excellent for both front seating positions.
Navigation information appears in two spots: on a screen in the center stack, and on an information display in the gauge cluster. If the driver wants to see audio and navigation information at the same time, he can program the screen to display the playlist, while route directions appear on the information display.
Redundant audio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. The steering wheel is height adjustable to accommodate drivers of different sizes.
A bin in the center console includes the compact disc slots, a 12-volt power point and the MP3 plug in. There are two other 12-volt outlets: in the center stack, and in back of the center console bin. Two cupholders in the floor console are large enough for water bottles. The electronic parking brake control is next to the gear shift lever. The six-speed automatic transmission includes a manual shift option.
Both rows of passengers have plenty of small bins and cubbies for stashing paperwork and portable electronic devices. All four doors have map pockets; the front doors also have bottle holders.
Second-row seats recline, and can move fore and aft up to six inches to give passengers additional legroom. The middle seat folds down to provide an extra set of cupholders. Given the size of the car and the transmission tunnel, two passengers will be more comfortable in back than three.
Reading lamps in the overhead console and to either side of the panoramic sunroof illuminate both rows. The second-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor. The front passenger seat can also fold flat for transporting longer items.
With the second-row seats in place, the cargo area can hold some small boxes and luggage, but stashing bikes and other large cargo requires folding the seats flat. A standard tonneau cover protects items stashed in back from prying eyes.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags: rear side airbags are optional. Standard four-channel antilock brakes and electronic stability program help the driver to maintain directional control on wet or icy surfaces.
The Tiguan is available as either a front or all-wheel drive car. Base price on the front-wheel drive model is $23,200. All-wheel drive models begin at $28,875. The standard warranty includes all scheduled maintenance for three years of 36,000 miles.
The new Tiguan is rolling into Volkswagen dealerships nationwide.
Likes: Exceptional power and performance: the Tiguan is a compact sport-utility vehicle that feels like a sport sedan. All-wheel drive gives the Tiguan all-weather and all-terrain capability, while the optional panoramic sunroof provides both rows of passengers with plenty of ambient light.
Dislikes: Poor fuel economy. The cargo area with the second-row seats in place is too small for bicycles, camping gear and other large items.
Model: Tiguan SE 4Motion
Base price: $28,875
As tested: $33,165
Horsepower: 200 Hp @ 5100 rpm
Torque: 207 lbs.-ft @ 1700 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.9 seconds
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $690 delivery charge. All scheduled maintenance is free for the duration of the three year/36,000 mile warranty period.
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