Older Than the iPhone, Volkswagen’s Tiguan SUV Finally Gets a Fantastic Update

10 years is a long time to go without an update; Volkswagen did this one right.

Editor’s Note: Volkswagen hosted us in Denver, Colorado for two days to fully experience the new Tiguan.

Ten years is a perilously long time for a car to exist without being redesigned. Case in point: the Volkswagen Tiguan, which came out in early 2007. The version of the compact crossover that you can buy today predates the iPhone, the Obama presidency, the first flight of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and all 16 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Iron Man.

So with that in mind, one would hope that VW would have learned an awful lot about compact crossovers, and infused the new 2018 version, which hits showrooms this summer, with considerable compact-crossover prowess. At first glance, there is a modest slew of upgrades — an extra 10 inches from bumper to bumper, an optional third row suitable for kids — and a crisp restyling treatment. But first glances rarely divulge the whole picture, as I discovered while slipping through the foothills and mountains of the Front Range. In fact, there’s more to the new Tiguan than you might expect.

Start with the ride. It’s legitimately excellent — smooth, confident, and far quieter than any lightweight crossover has any right to be. Upon arrival in Denver, I coaxed a set of keys from VW management and squirreled a Tiguan away for some solo exploration: through rush hour traffic and all the way to mountainous Breckenridge terrain. The route is fraught with a discomfiting juxtaposition of high-speed freeways and seemingly endless vertical ascents and descents. You have to pay some attention to what you’re doing there, lest momentum surprise you with a gentle right-hand curve that suddenly turns not so gentle at 80 mph on a 8 percent grade. But the Tiguan always helped me reign in my speed safely, thanks to new, beefier 13.4-inch front disk brakes and VW’s electronic brake-pressure distribution and hydraulic brake-assist tech.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Engine: 2.0L turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Horsepower: 184-hp
Torque: 221-lb-ft
Weight: 3,750-4,050 lbs
0-60: 7.5-8.0 seconds
MSRP: $26,245-$34,750

Ascents benefited from the revised 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine with a fine-tuned variable valve timing system and a combustion cycle optimized for power, efficiency and responsiveness. In the end, you get improved fuel efficiency while still benefitting from more torque than in the previous Tiguan. Though the modest power left a little to be desired in a straight line, its persistent power availability on climbs and while passing more than made up for it. Credit the car’s smoothness and quiet to lots of deep-tissue engineering in its construction, suspension and aerodynamics. I never felt fatigue from any of my driving or any frustration with the Tiguan’s performance. In the Rockies, that’s a big deal.

Depending on which trim level you opt for, you’ll gain access to myriad infotainment options, including USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, a glass-covered 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto options and a 480-watt, nine-speaker Fender premium audio option. You also can tick the box for adaptive cruise control or VW’s subscription-based Car-Net connectivity and security system, which provides things like remote app access to vehicle systems, remote-unlocking, speed alerts for younger drivers and service and maintenance monitoring. All of this is in addition to more practical perks like an off-road-capable all-wheel-drive system option, an optional third row and improved passenger and cargo space courtesy of the longer wheelbase and overall length. All trim levels score an engine start/stop system for improved fuel economy — which is more pronounced than I’d like it to be in this day and age — standard rearview camera and a bright digital display in the center console.

So yes, while the new Tiguan has been a long time coming — the company can be forgiven for having a lot on its mind these days — the redesign presents a fully modernized and appealing option for the crossover crowd. Throw in still more safety and driver-assistance systems, including automatic braking to prevent collisions while backing up, and a six-year, 72,000-mile warranty that (notably) transferable to new owners, and you have something that’s absolutely worth the wait, no matter how many superhero movies have come and gone since its predecessor came out.

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