When Volkswagen first delved into the small SUV category with the Tiguan, it was a cute subcompact crossover that did reasonably well for the brand for several years.
After nearly a decade on the market a second generation was unveiled in 2016, and it was much larger than before, quickly earning the attention of buyers and becoming the brand’s best-selling model right here in Canada and around the world.
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan marks a more subtle shift in this SUV’s evolution, with a slightly upmarket feel that’s worth the price of admission.
Where some entries in this compact class are overstyled in pursuit of design trends – think Hyundai’s bold new Tucson – Volkswagen has exhibited tremendous restraint with the 2022 Tiguan. As the brand has done with other models in the lineup, the Tiguan represents a cleaner, simpler, and more mature look than competitors fraught with swoopy sheet metal and ostentatious grilles.
With a few subtle updates front and back, the Tiguan resembles a scaled-down version of its Atlas sibling, and particularly in this top-tier Highline trim and its R-Line styling package, it looks more premium than its price suggests. This tester was particularly fetching with its deep metallic blue paint accented with some subtle chrome trim.
Inside, it’s much the same story. There’s little here that should surprise anyone – no peculiar placement of the shifter or flamboyantly sweeping swaths of colour or moulded plastic – just a simple, clean design with high-quality plastics and controls where they’re expected to be.
User Friendliness: 7/10
While the easy-to-reach eight-inch touchscreen is appreciated, Volkswagen fits only USB-C ports inside these days. There is, however, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but the latter did still glitch occasionally during testing.
The 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster in this tester offers some basic configurability and adds to the overall slickness of the cockpit design. Kudos to VW for still fitting traditional tuning and volume knobs to the Tiguan’s dashboard, but after living with the capacitive “buttons” on the steering wheel, as well as for the climate control and seat heaters, we longed for the simplicity and effectiveness of physical controls instead. Plus, those shiny black panels sure do get smudged with fingerprints.
Otherwise, the Tiguan’s driving position offers a commanding view all around thanks to its relatively boxy shape and tall greenhouse.
For Canadian Volkswagens, the Highline trim is tops, and in the case of the Tiguan, this means it’s very well-equipped. Our tester wore its fancy wheels and adaptive LED lighting signatures on the outside; and power, heated, and cooled front seats and heated rear seats, all trimmed in leather, inside. There’s a panoramic sunroof, digital climate control front and rear, and a great-sounding eight-speaker audio system. All of this – even the metallic paint – is standard for the Highline, with no options added to our tester.
Volkswagen didn’t skimp on the safety features, either, with our Tiguan packed with airbags and active safety aids like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam control, parking sensors, and a surround-view monitoring system. The Tiguan can also read and display road sign information, and detect pedestrians.
Volkswagen’s compact SUV fared well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, but earned mild criticisms for some difficulty in connecting the child seat anchors.
The 1,064 L of cargo space behind the rear seat isn’t far from the Canadian-made – and class-leading – Honda CR-V, and is slightly larger than that of the sales-leading Toyota RAV4 (that’s also made in Canada); but it’s slightly less than what the Hyundai Tucson provides. The rear seats split and flop forward with ease from a pair of levers in the cargo area, lying nearly flat and expanding the cargo hold to 2,081 L of space for stuff. Again, that’s more than the RAV4, but slightly less than both the Tucson and CR-V.
The Tiguan is rated to tow a max of 680 kg (1,500 lb), which is enough for a small utility trailer and some yard waste, or a couple of dirt bikes. Across all Tiguan trims, Volkswagen offers an optional third-row seat that wasn’t fitted to this tester. It increases occupant count to seven, if needed.
It’s a comfortable SUV, too, with seats that are firm but supportive, and there’s decent space front and back, measuring up competitively if not quite class-leading. Wind and road noise are decently suppressed, and the engine noise never becomes bothersome, but it does make its presence known under modest and heavy acceleration.
The Tiguan’s ride quality knocks its comfort score down somewhat since it’s sprung more stiffly than many of the other machines in this class, and its very large 20-inch wheel package that’s part of the R-Line trim offer little in the way of tire sidewall compliance, resulting in more pavement faults being transmitted to the cabin than we’d like.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The upside to the stiff ride is a suspension tuning that reminds drivers that this VW shares a lot of DNA with the sporty Golf GTI hatchback. Steering feel is surprisingly good, and the Tiguan’s road manners, especially when hustled around curves, put it in a rarefied field amongst compact SUVs. Body roll is well controlled and the standard all-wheel drive system apportions power to where it’s best used to help propel the Tiguan out of corners – even in nasty winter weather like during our test week.
While the RAV4’s larger four-cylinder engine delivers more horsepower, the Tiguan’s turbocharged 2.0L dispenses with notably more torque, at 221 lb-ft, bettering all of its immediate competitors except for Mazda’s turbocharged CX-5. None of the machines in this category deliver straight-line performance that one would call scintillating, but this turbo Volkswagen has enough oomph to feel spritely around town, only leaving enthusiastic drivers wanting a bit more sizzle when it comes time to merge at highway speed or pass a line of traffic.
The eight-speed automatic is a good transmission that delivers smooth shifts, but with the ability to snap off very quick ones when shifted manually or set in its sport mode.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
The Tiguan is thirstier than the RAV4 and CR-V, both of which better the Volkswagen’s city average by more than 2.0 L/100 km – a notable amount in this class, and this day and age. On the highway, and combined, the Tiguan is a closer match, and at least its 60-L fuel tank is larger than those found in the competitors, meaning its range is still competitive between fill-ups.
It should be noted that the R-Line’s larger, heavier wheels and tires contribute to reduced efficiency compared to other Tiguan models. This tester is rated for a combined 9.8 L/100 km. Like the other SUVs in this class, the Tiguan only requires regular-grade gas.
Priced at $43,395, plus a non-negotiable $1,950 freight charge, the top-line Tiguan costs barely more than comparable RAV4, Tucson, CR-V, and CX-5 trims, or a similarly equipped Nissan Rogue or Ford Escape. From inside the Tiguan, the price gap seems negligible thanks to its premium driving experience.
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is a solid offering in the compact SUV category, while still being true to the traits VW fans have come to appreciate. It’s handsomely styled inside and out, well-equipped, and offers enough handling prowess to be surprising for most buyers, all of which make it easy to see why it’s become VW’s most popular model – and why it’s well worth a shopper’s consideration.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I4|
|Peak Horsepower||184 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||221 lb-ft @ 1,900 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.0 / 8.3 / 9.8 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||1,064 L / 2,081 L rear seats folded|
|Model Tested||2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline R-Line|
|Price as Tested||$45,445|