2014 Volkswagen Tiguan: A lot beyond the name

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Eight years after its debut as a concept car at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan retains the compact crossover vehicle’s unique status.

It’s still largely unheralded, and it’s among the oddest named cars in the United States. The Volkswagen Tiguan concept debuted at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show to a fair amount of head scratching . . . “What’s a Tiguan?”

The name (pronounced TEE-gwan) is a combination of the word Tiger and the German word “leguan”, which means “iguana.” The name is odd, for sure. But it won a naming contest in a German car magazine over more bizarre finalists: Namib, Rockton, Liger, Samun and Nanuk.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in five trim levels: S, SE, SE with Appearance, SEL and R-Line. All trims have two rows of seats and four-cylinder engines.

The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan has sports car overtunes.
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan has sports car overtunes. All images © James Raia/2014

My weekly driver was the new top-line, sport-oriented R-Line. In addition to including the long list of standard features from other trims, the R-Line adds: 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights, a sport body kit, a sport-tuned suspension, LED license plate illumination, automatic wipers, power-folding exterior mirrors, full power front seats, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, special interior accents (including an R-Line steering wheel with paddle shifters) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Powered by 2-liter, 200-horsepower engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, the Tiguan I test drove had front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is also available on all trims but the manual transmission S.

The R-Line has a firmer suspension than the other trims and its personality has hints of a sports car masked as a small luxury SUV.

I drove the Tiguan on city streets and on several highway treks during the week and was repeatedly impressed with the crossover’s refinement. Combine the leather seats with a quiet ride and the car’s confident demeanor and the Tiguan means business. It’s quick for its segment and it maneuvers well.

The Tiguan has a slightly raised rear wheels, which further add to the Tiguan’s attractive exterior. The interior materials are surprisingly plush with intuitive dials and an easy-to-master navigation system with an undersized screen.

The Tiguan has been criticized for its smaller cargo area, but it seemed satisfactory, particularly with the back seats folded down. That configuration worked well for a rare recent treat. My wife and I took the Tiguan to a drive-in movie, a first in maybe 20 years. The cargo area accommodated the two of us with pillows and a blanket just fine.

Likes:

Near luxury ride and handling.

Upscale interior.

Impressive turbocharged performance.

Overall comfort.

Acceleration.

Dislikes:

Fuel economy could be better.

Cargo space not the largest in the compact SUV segment.

Expensive for the segment.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.5 seconds
Airbags: (6)
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 26 mpg (highway), six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 200.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $36,880.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.vw.com.
Price As Tested: $37,745.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“The Volkswagen lies on a plane between the mainstream and entry-luxury offerings, thanks to its fantastic powertrain, engaging dynamics, and refined interior. For some, it is just the right blend of two different beasts.” — Automobile Magazine.

“But the Tiguan does tend to cost more money than its rivals. Still, we think the Tiguan is worth the extra cost. Every time you fire it up, you’ll be reminded that you didn’t settle for a run-of-the-mill crossover; you made the stretch and got one of the best.” — AutoTrader.

“The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan is getting on in years, but it’s still an appealing compact crossover SUV, particularly if you want one with an upscale character.” — Edmunds.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Beyond its odd name, the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan further crowds the compact SUV competition. A lot of fine choices are out there and the Tiguan is among the best.”

 

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