Volkswagen Tiguan (2016-2020) review
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a spacious, comfortable and good-to-drive SUV. Its raised driving position gives you a great view out but it’s a little bit more expensive than alternatives.
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If a traditional hatchback, saloon or estate car seems too low-slung for you and you want the chunky looks and raised-up driving position of an SUV, the Volkswagen Tiguan should be on your shortlist.
The VW Tiguan shares plenty of mechanical bits and bobs with the SEAT Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq, making them all part of one big SUV family. If the SEAT’s the sporty child and the Skoda the sensible one, that makes the posher VW Tiguan is the fashion-conscious kid who sneaks designer trainers into their P.E. kit.
In fact, pick a VW Tiguan in range-topping R-Line Tech trim and it’ll give the likes of the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q3 and BMW X3 small SUVs a run for their money in the style stakes.
Things are pretty bloomin’ good inside, too. Everything in the VW Tiguan’s interior is laid out logically, the materials feel solid (without being hard and brittle) and the intuitive infotainment system is genuinely excellent. On the downside, it’s a little unadventurous, and it’s unfortunate that sat-nav costs extra in some of the cheaper models.
Thankfully, the VW Tiguan is more than just a pretty face – it’s comfortable to drive, too, easy to see out of and a doddle to manoeuvre around tight car parks. It has a comfortable driving position while the good all-round visibility means tip-toeing your way through traffic won’t feel like pushing an over-laden shopping trolley through a crowded supermarket.
In top R-Line Tech trim level the Tiguan is definitely a snappy dresser, but its sensible-suit lower trim levels are more Asda than Armani.
Speaking of shopping, you’ll find the VW Tiguan has more than enough space for a week’s groceries in its generous boot and there are numerous useful storage areas throughout the interior. The roomy back seats can be reclined for more comfort or slid forwards to increase the boot’s capacity and you can even get a seven-seat VW Tiguan Allspace if you need to carry a few extra passengers every now and then.
That said, a Skoda Kodiaq is even more cavernous, but unless you’re running a removals firm, the Tiguan is going to be practical enough for most family car duties.
The VW Tiguan is a good car to drive, too. Admittedly, it’s not very exciting, but what really matters is that it’s comfy, quiet and feels secure and stable on faster roads. The Volkswagen Tiguan is also sufficiently agile to zip along a twisty country road with little fuss. And, you can relax knowing you and your family are protected by VW’s latest safety systems, including standard automatic emergency city braking.
If you don’t do many long journeys, then go for the excellent 1.5-litre 150hp petrol engine – it gives a good blend of price, performance and economy. For higher miles (or for towing trailers) you’ll want one of the punchy 2.0-litre diesel units. You can also get it with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, but you’ll be better off with a Land Rover Discovery Sport if you plan to do any serious off-roading.
But, if you don’t need that extra capability, the Volkswagen Tiguan is one of the very best all-round family SUVs you can buy. It pretty much does it all. If you like the sound of that, take a look at the latest Volkswagen Tiguan deals – or if you want carwow to do some of the legwork for you… have a look at the engine and trim recommendation below.
Common Volkswagen Tiguan questions
Is the Volkswagen Tiguan 4-wheel drive?
You can get the Volkswagen Tiguan with four-wheel drive. Pick a 150hp or 190hp 2.0-litre diesel model or a 190hp 2.0-litre petrol model it’s an optional extra, but you get four-wheel drive as standard in 245hp 2.0-litre diesel cars and 230-hp 2.0-litre petrol models.
No matter how far you slide back the driver’s seat, there’s still room in the back of a Volkswagen Tiguan for tall passengers to get comfy – but three adults side by side will feel squashed…
You get some sturdy folding tables for the Tiguan’s back seats that won’t collapse and douse your passengers’ knees in hot coffee at the mere sniff of a speed hump
The Volkswagen Tiguan’s roomy cabin has plenty of space for tall passengers. The front seats come with lots of adjustment as standard and you can tweak the steering wheel for height and reach to find your ideal driving position – even if you’re very tall. SE L models come with electrical adjustment for the front seats and even a massage function – although the latter feels more like being pawed at by an anxious cat than a genuine massage.
Space in the back is very nearly as generous as in the front. There’s enough leg room for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver and there’s space to tuck your feet under the front seats.
The seats themselves are soft and supportive and even very tall adults won’t be left wanting for headroom. You can even slide the rear seats forward and backwards slightly and recline the backrests to give your back-seat passengers a little more space to stretch out – at the expense of a little boot space.
The central rear seat isn’t quite as soft as the outer two and there’s a sizeable lump in the floor but there’s still enough space for three adults to sit side-by-side without fighting over foot space. There isn’t quite as much shoulder or elbow room as you get in the wider Honda CR-V, however.
All but entry-level S cars come with three-zone climate control so your passengers in the back can tweak the temperature themselves – or you can warm things up to send kids off to sleep on a long drive.
It’s a doddle to fit a bulky child seat, too. The Tiguan’s rear doors open nice and wide and the Isofix anchor points are clearly marked. Its raised ride height means you don’t have to stoop down to strap in a child – even if you’re very tall.
The Volkswagen Tiguan comes with absolutely loads of handy storage bins and cubby holes to help keep its cabin looking neat and tidy. All four door bins and the glovebox are easily big enough to hold a one-litre bottle each and there’s space under the front armrest to keep a few valuables hidden safely out of sight.
You get a 12V socket for charging your phone as standard but you can get a wireless charging pad as an option if you’d rather not have any messy cables lying around. There’s even a storage tray under the front passenger seat that’s big enough for an iPad and you can tuck a few pairs of sunglasses in the extra cubbies under the dashboard.
Your back-seat passengers also get a pair of fold-down tables with some handy cupholders. Their neat ratchet system means they’ll easily support a few heavy drinks bottles without collapsing, too.
The Volkswagen Tiguan’s 620-litre boot is one of the biggest of all small family SUVs. It’s much more spacious than the 430-litre Nissan Qashqai, the 491-litre Kia Sportage and the 503-litre Mazda CX-5 and there’s more than enough room for a large baby buggy or four suitcases.
You also get an adjustable boot floor to eliminate the awkward load lip and help make it easy to slide in very heavy luggage. There’s even a 12V socket so you can plug in a portable hoover and some handy tie-down hooks to hold smaller items securely.
If you need to carry even more, you can flip the back seats down in a three-way (40:20:40) split using some easy-to-reach levers in the boot rather than awkward catches beside the headrests. Flip just the middle section down and you can carry up to two rear-seat passengers and some very long luggage at once, or fold all three seats out of the way and you’ll open up a 1,655-litre load bay.
With all three seats folded, there’s enough space to carry a bike with its wheels attached. There’s no annoying step in the floor behind the back seats either, so it’s easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is easy to drive and has a range of strong and fairly economical engines – but top-spec R-Line Tech models aren’t as comfortable over bumps as the rest of the Tiguan range
A 1.5-litre petrol engine may seem a bit small for the big Tiguan – but the 150hp version has enough oomph, especially if you’re mainly driving in town
You can get the Volkswagen Tiguan with a range of petrol and diesel engines and with either a manual or automatic gearbox. You can also get diesel versions with four-wheel drive instead of the standard front-wheel-drive setup.
The best all-rounder is the 1.5-litre petrol model with 150hp. It’s smoother and more frugal than the diesel models around town and fast enough to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic – unlike the cheaper 130hp model, which you have to work harder on multi-lane roads.
VW claims the 150hp petrol Tiguan will return 39.2mpg, so you can expect to see mid-30s mpg in real-world conditions, which is on par with similar-spec cars from other manufacturers. You can also get 190hp and 230hp 2.0-litre turbo petrols, but the 150hp 1.5 is the sweet spot of the petrol engine range.
Sadly, you can’t get this engine with four-wheel drive but the Volkswagen Tiguan still has more than enough grip to deal with a slippery country lane. A four-wheel-drive diesel model will be a better bet if you regularly find yourself towing trailers across muddy fields, but for serious off-road work a Land Rover Discovery Sport will be much more suitable.
If you do lots of motorway miles you’ll want to consider one of the 2.0-litre diesel models. The 150hp 2.0-litre version isn’t quite as fast as the 1.5-litre petrol but it returns around 55mpg in real-world conditions. You can also get a more powerful 190hp version of the same engine that’ll be ideal if you plan to tow heavy trailers. And real performance junkies can opt for a twin-turbo BiTDI with a whopping 240hp that’ll sprint from 0-60mph in just 6.2 seconds – that’s hot-hatch pace. It will, of course, use more diesel getting there.
You can get the 150hp diesel version with two- or four-wheel drive and with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, while the higher-powered diesels are auto and four-wheel drive only. Unfortunately, the manual doesn’t feel particularly smooth and the optional automatic requires a very gentle touch on the accelerator to avoid lurching at slow speeds. It’s still well worth paying extra for, however – It changes gear very smoothly once you’re up to speed and really helps give your left leg a rest on long journeys.
The Tiguan’s quite a bit larger than a conventional family car but it’s still very easy to drive. Its reasonably high driving position might not lift you above traffic quite as much as a Honda CR-V or Peugeot 3008 but you still get an excellent view out through its large windows. Even the pillars between the doors and the windscreens don’t produce any awkward blind spots.
The large rear windscreen helps make it relatively easy to park and all models in SE trim and above come with front and rear parking sensors as standard. You can even get a 360-degree camera that’ll display a bird’s-eye view of the car’s surroundings on the central display and a system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel spaces.
The Volkswagen Tiguan does a fairly good job ironing out potholes around town – providing you avoid the sportier R-Line Tech models with their larger 20-inch alloy wheels. If you can’t live without the R-Line Tech’s upmarket looks and big wheels you can get special adaptive dampers that let you switch between sporty and more comfortable suspension setups at the flick of a switch.
Even without this option, the Volkswagen Tiguan makes light work of twisty country roads. It might not feel quite as sporty as a Mazda CX-5, but its body doesn’t lean much in tight corners so kids in the back seats won’t start to feel car sick. Thankfully, you won’t hear much annoying wind and tyre noise in the VW, even at motorway speeds, so long journeys won’t leave you feeling particularly tired.
The VW Tiguan was awarded an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2016 making it one of the safest family SUVs on sale. The automatic emergency braking feature you get as standard across the range helped it earn this impressive result. This system helps stop the car as quickly as possible if it detects a vehicle or pedestrian in the road ahead.
For even greater peace of mind, you’ll want to pick the optional Emergency Assist feature. This will bring the car to a safe, controlled stop and put on the hazard warning lights if it senses you’ve fallen asleep at the wheel.
The Tiguan’s interior is intuitively laid-out and has impressive optional tech. Most of its materials feel fairly plush too, but it doesn’t look particularly exciting…