Here’s the thing about German-bred automobiles. Generally speaking, they are exceptionally well engineered, designed, and executed. There’s a no-nonsense aura about them, and they’re fun to drive as a positive side effect of Autobahn-bred tuning intended to make them dynamically competent and, by extension, safe. The German-built 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is no different. It might be a compact crossover suv, but it’s definitely among the most entertaining members of its class.
Volkswagen offers the 2014 Tiguan in S, SE, SEL, and R-Line trim levels, and prices range from $24,170 for the Tiguan S to $39,700 for a loaded Tiguan R-Line. The photos depict the Tiguan SEL in Reflex Silver Metallic paint, but are also accurate for the Tiguan SE with the Appearance Package except for the panoramic sunroof.
Inside, the 2014 Tiguan features quality materials and pleasing tones and textures. Leatherette covers the seats in the SE and SEL models, convincing enough that you’re unlikely to miss genuine leather. Soft touch surfaces, tasteful metallic accents, clearly rendered gauges, and mostly simple controls help to make a Tiguan effortless and pleasurable to drive.
Both front seats offer a manual height adjuster, and the driver and passenger sit up tall with an excellent view out. A center console armrest ratchets up and slides forward, adjusting for a variety of seating positions and body types, and the upper door panels are padded for extra comfort. Smooth leather is wrapped around the steering wheel, making it pleasurable to grip.
Rear seat passengers won’t complain about space. The seat itself is exceptionally comfortable, delivering a tall bottom cushion and excellent thigh support. The front seatbacks are softly padded everywhere you touch, but only the tallest of back seat occupants should find their knees or shins contacting the front seats. In models with the panoramic sunroof, like this Tiguan SEL, the overhead glass extends all the way to the rear headrests.
Among compact crossover suvs, the 2014 Tiguan offers a rather cramped cargo compartment. With the rear seat raised, you’ve got 23.8 cu.-ft. of space for your things, which are contained in a cube-shaped and illuminated trunk. Fold the 40/20/40-split folding rear seat down to carry up to 56.1 cu.-ft. of cargo. Longer items can also fit, thanks to the fold-flat front passenger’s seat.
The only engine offered in the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is a good one, a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder generating 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. Peak torque kicks in at 1,700 rpm and is available up to 5,000 rpm. Then, peak horsepower is available from 5,100 rpm to 6,000 rpm. Most Tiguans have a 6-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive is standard. A 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is optional. Regardless of drivetrain choice, the EPA says a Tiguan with an automatic transmission gets 23 mpg in combined driving. I did better than that, averaging 23.3 mpg.
Based on data provided by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports, the Volkswagen Tiguan provides average quality, dependability and reliability, at best. This caution, combined with Volkswagen’s free scheduled maintenance program, makes leasing a Tiguan more attractive than buying one.
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan matches or bests the best-selling compact crossover SUVs when it comes to crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), though the VW’s “Marginal” rating in the small overlap frontal-impact assessment indicates a need for improvement. In tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Tiguan’s 3-star rating for front passenger protection in a frontal impact is unimpressive.
Upgrade from the Tiguan S to the Tiguan SE for Volkswagen’s new Car-Net telematics and smartphone connectivity technology, which includes Automatic Collision Notification and an emergency SOS assistance button. The SE Appearance Package adds a reversing camera, and the Tiguan R-Line includes rain-sensing wipers and an Adaptive Front Lighting System.
In addition to safety-related services, the 2014 Tiguan’s new Car-Net technology offers a Last Parked Location feature that helps the SUV’s owner to find the VW in a crowded parking lot. Depending on the model selected, the VW Tiguan offers a touchscreen infotainment system, a navigation system, a keyless passive entry system with push-button starting, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and a Fender-branded premium audio system.
In models with a touchscreen infotainment system, Volkswagen supplies a volume knob, a tuning knob, and a few function buttons that correspond to screen prompts or allow the user to go back one screen. It takes some time to acclimate to the system, but once you’re past the learning curve it becomes easier to use.
The Tiguan’s small touchscreen is fine for the SUV’s radio, but proves too small for the available navigation system, making it hard to see street-level detail in the context of the greater landscape.
While reversing guidelines are helpful, the Tiguan’s rear view camera system doesn’t display a 180-degree panoramic view, making it hard to see people or vehicles approaching from the side.
The compact crossover SUV segment is one of the largest and most popular in America. Within it, the 2014 VW Tiguan is effectively a niche player, taking on the more popular models such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4 as well as alternatives such as the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Subaru Forester.
It’s not surprising that the 2014 Tiguan is a slow seller in a hot segment. The asking price is high, cargo space is tight, and neither its crash-test scores nor its reliability ratings are particularly impressive. Nevertheless, this is a genuinely appealing compact crossover SUV with plenty of merits of its own, ranging from its fun-to-drive character and comfortable interior to impressive fuel economy and quality detailing. Is it worth consideration? Perhaps not by everybody, but it certainly belongs on more shopping lists.
Volkswagen provided the 2014 Tiguan for this photo gallery
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL photos by Christian Wardlaw