This review first appeared on Car-Revs-Daily.com.
In some cases cars are designed so perfectly their popularity can carry them for years and well beyond when they typically receive updates. For the 2016 VW Tiguan, this is not the case and the all-new 2018 model, set to arrive next summer, is desperately needed. The fact is there is nothing wrong with the Tiguan per se, yet there isn’t really anything that exciting either and that’s a problem.
The compact crossover market these days is hot with many great models from all manufactures. Typically, these vehicles provide ample room, great features, a sub 20s starting price and good fuel economy.
For the Tiguan, it misses on a lot of items like the room, features and fuel economy compared to say the market leader, the Honda CR-V. Comparing the two vehicles, the Honda CR-V has arguably a more stylish interior/exterior, more cargo room with the second-row seats folded flat (70.9 cubic feet for CR-V, 56.1 for the VW), better fuel economy in the all-wheel-drive setup with the CR-V returning 25/31/27 city/highway/combined MPG while the Tiguan returns 20/26/23 city/highway/combined MPG per EPA testing and overall hits more of the marks consumers are looking for.
About the only thing the Tiguan has going for it is the drive. Like many other VW products, behind the wheel, it is just fun to drive. The compact crossover can hold a line deeper in the corner than you would expect, gets off the line quicker and has a responsive steering feel thanks in part to the four-wheel independent sport suspension. Plus, my test model’s 2.0L four-cylinder turbo-charged gasoline engine producing 200-HP mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission is never wanting for more power.
The real problem for me is the awkward exterior and interior design with the blah Pepper Gray Metallic exterior color and black leather just begs for more. Frankly, during my week of testing the car, I found myself checking out other vehicles on the road more than admiring the design of the 2016 VW Tiguan.
Ultimately, if VW can take the powertrain and suspension from this model and incorporate those things into a newly redesigned model, they will be onto something and could steal sales from the Honda CR-V. Considering the market lead the CR-V has, this would be quite a feat.
In the end, the 2016 VW Tiguan is a mix between boring and exciting. If you are in the market for a compact crossover and put the drive above all else, this is the vehicle for you. If you want more from a compact crossover, you will want to shop elsewhere.
Model: 2016 VW Tiguan SEL AWD 4Motion
Engine: 2.0L Turbo-charged TSI four-cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Price as Tested: $38,105 with $865 destination fee