2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion Road Test

I know what it’s like to be small in stature. Throughout school I was always height challenged, as some like to call it. Making
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
The Tiguan is still cute in a comfortably pudgy way. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
matters worse, my overall build didn’t easily accumulate upper mass-the type desired-yet had no problem attracting mid-rift bulge-the unwanted variety. I worked hard to overcome the bodily challenges plus greater interest in books and hobbies than sports, combined with a love of sweets, and albeit somewhat unwillingly became a fairly decent athlete. I suppose this is why I relate to the Tiguan.

After all, it’s always been pintsized compared to its supposed “compact” competitors, although it’s more recently had the ego-boosting benefit of looking large amongst a bevy of new subcompact SUVs-kind of like yours truly “towering” above many of my oh-so wonderfully friendly family, friends and colleagues in my second home of the Philippines. Of course, all of this VW SUV small talk will soon become moot as the German brand prepares to replace this abbreviated
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
Bland rear styling is looking more than a bit dated, but the 17-inch rims and LED taillight lenses are nice. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
2017 Tiguan with a newer and larger version for 2018, which should help it attract more buyers looking for additional size and functionality at a similar price point.

The current model, which only received a mid-cycle update since debuting in 2007, is smaller than most compacts, and therefore sells in much fewer numbers than more popular compacts like Honda’s CR-V, Toyota’s RAV4, Ford’s Escape, Nissan’s Rogue, etcetera. The Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage suffer from a similar scenario, as they’re sized closer to large subcompact SUVs like Mitsubishi’s RVR, Toyota’s new C-HR, and Nissan’s just-arrived Qashqai.

The actual Tiguan sales numbers might be emotionally deflating to those within VW’s Canadian ranks were they not in the process of launching a completely revised
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
Halogen projectors are nothing exciting in a segment with available LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
version, with the current model’s 2017 year-to-date sales of 3,311 units as of May 31 ranking 12th out of 16 models selling into the mainstream compact SUV segment; the bottom feeders are made up of niche brands and models like Subaru’s Crosstrek (3,083) and Mitsubishi’s Outlander (2,982) respectively, plus has-beens like Jeep’s Patriot (1,818) and Compass (1,535)-yes, surprisingly these two Dodge Caliber-based “classics” are still for sale, the latter even redesigned for 2018. The Tiguan fared slightly better last year, its 11,229 total sales placing 11th overall after all 12 months of 2016 came to a close. Then again, to put all this into perspective last year’s bestselling RAV4 sold 49,103 units.

This said does the Tiguan’s poor sales ranking make it a bad choice in the compact
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
Standard fog lamps add an element of sportiness. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
SUV class? Not at all. In fact, if you were to compare its sales amongst subcompact SUVs, its 2017 YTD number would put it fourth out of 11 competitors (although two were just added last month), while its 2016 calendar year sales would find it second overall. Of course, if we did this we’d need to toss the two Korean compact SUVs into the mix, but even knocking that fantasy sales chart standing down a couple of notches would be a good showing for the little VW.

If you hadn’t noticed, I find sales stats compelling. They’re often the only real indicators of how much we consumers like a given vehicle, or not, and often reflect the overall goodness of a given model, not to mention its value proposition. Of course, in order to achieve a better understanding of true popularity we should also factor in model allocation (just how many units a manufacturer makes available
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
The panoramic sunroof makes the exterior look almost as rich as the interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
to a given market), the advertising spend (the RAV4 and CR-V get a lot more ad money than the Tiguan), and so on, but as far as unscientific “polling” goes these sales numbers help separate the so called “men from the boys.” That (admittedly gender-specific and therefore totally unacceptable) adage inelegantly segues me back into the current 2017 Tiguan’s size equation, which I’ll get out of the way right now.

The Tiguan is 4,433 mm (174.5 inches) long with a 2,604-mm (102.5-inch) wheelbase, 1,809 mm (71.2 inches) wide and 1,703 mm (67.0 inches) tall, the latter dimension being the only measurement that exceeds the larger compact SUV rivals mentioned a moment ago. The high roofline makes it ideal for loftier folk (a common physical trait amongst Germans), but results in an oddly proportioned
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
LED taillights are nicely designed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
visual top-heaviness and that short, pudgy appearance noted at the beginning of this review. Some might find it cute, but the Tiguan isn’t an SUV that buyers lust over.

Where it comes up shorter than average is cargo capacity, the Tiguan’s 674 litres (23.8 cubic feet) of rearmost luggage space and 1,588 litres (56.1 cubic feet) upon second-row seatbacks being laid flat nowhere near as capacious as the Escape’s 971-litre (34.3 cubic-foot) and 1,928-litre (68.1 cubic-foot) respective offering, or for that matter the Rogue’s 1,112-litre (39.3 cubic-foot) and 1,982-litre (70.0 cubic-foot) advantage, the RAV4’s 1,090-litre (38.4 cubic-foot) and 2,080-litre (73.3 cubic-foot) benefit, or the CR-V’s even grander 1,110-litre (39.2 cubic-foot) and 2,146-litre (70.8 cubic-foot) capacity.

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
The Tiguan interior is still quite impressive for its age, especially in two-tone black and beige. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the VW has over most of these Japanese competitors (Rogue excluded) is rear seat passenger/cargo flexibility, the seats folding in the usual 60/40-configuration, albeit enhanced by a large centre pass-through that also acts as a dual cupholder-infused armrest for rear outboard passengers. This means when laying longer items like skis down the middle those more comfortable window seats are available for a much nicer trip up the mountain. The cargo area is finished nicer than most competitors too, with higher-grade carpeting that goes all the way up the sidewalls.

Where lack of size seems an obvious shortcoming, I fully understand why some SUV buyers will appreciate the more compact model’s inner city driving, parking and handing advantages. The Tiguan is a wonderfully agile little runabout, its nicely
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
It’s easy to see the Tiguan’s excellent ventilation, while the Wolfsburg Edition adds a leather wheel, alloy pedals, upgraded infotainment and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
sorted independent suspension nimbly capable through intertwining streets, lanes and alleyways, some of the latter not even paved in my town and therefore appearing more like backcountry trails than anything urban. Such is a good proving ground for the suspension’s inherently compliant nature. Deep dips and rugged bumps are easily overcome in comfort, whereas the model’s aforementioned ride height provides excellent visibility when tightly surrounded by traffic. The Tiguan’s general lightness aids fast-paced handling as well, as does its unique German suspension tuning, the little ute managing to ably slingshot through serpentine stretches of tarmac just as easily as it points and shoots through commuter congestion.

All 2017 Tiguans come with VW’s peppy 2.0-litre TSI gasoline-powered four-cylinder, producing 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual mode puts the power down to the front wheels more engagingly than many of its peers’ continuously
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
Straightforward gauges are clear and legible, although the monochromatic trip computer is quite dated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
variable transmissions, while as-tested 4Motion all-wheel drive is optional and very adept at mild off-road and snowy situations. Again, the Tiguan’s general lightness allows this little engine to feel more energetic than it might otherwise in one of its larger compact rivals, but either way it’s a more formidable entry-level powertrain than all of the above-noted SUVs. In fact, of the four mentioned only the Escape offers a more capable four-cylinder engine, and then only in a much pricier trim, making the Tiguan’s performance advantage obvious as soon as you step on the throttle.

This performance comes at a cost, however, the Tiguan’s fuel economy not the thriftiest in the segment at a claimed 11.7 L/100km
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
VW’s 6.33-inch touchscreen is state of the art kit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
city and 9.6 highway in FWD or 12.0 city and 10.0 highway with AWD. This hardly compares well against the CR-V’s 8.4 L/100km city and 7.0 highway rating with FWD or its 8.7 city and 7.2 highway AWD estimate, the Honda also being the largest and most powerful alternative of the four rivals just mentioned, so going smaller doesn’t necessarily give you an advantage at the pump.

I mentioned trim levels a moment ago, and in a nice change of events Volkswagen provided a more basic Tiguan for this go-around. This normally happens when a given automaker is trying to promote a special edition model, our weekly rides usually fully loaded so we can enjoy the best experience possible. Without fail our second-rung (out of four) tester was in fact the Wolfsburg Edition, which takes a base $25,990 Trendline and adds 4Motion AWD along with everything from that model’s Convenience package, including auto on/off headlights with coming and leaving
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
A standard six-speed Tiptronic automatic is a cut above some peers’ CVTs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
home functions, 17-inch Novara alloys, roof rails, privacy glass, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather shift knob, rain-sensing wipers, heatable washer nozzles, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with four-way powered lumbar, heatable front seats, aluminum pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone auto climate control, satellite radio, USB audio input, plus VW’s (new last year) 6.33-inch Composition Media infotainment touchscreen (upgraded from 5.0 inches) with a very cool proximity-sensing display, App-Connect with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink phone connectivity, an SD card slot, and eight-speaker audio, while according to VW a set of “Wolfsburg Edition” badges were to be added to the outside B pillars, but I couldn’t find any.

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
Nice looking and comfortable too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
defer to the associated paperwork VW handed out when picking up the car, and yes it says “Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4MOTION” right there in black on white. A quick trip over to the VW.ca website shows that indeed the Wolfsburg Edition is the only trim available with my tester’s unique two-tone Titan Black and Cornsilk Beige leatherette upholstery (a no-cost option that someone at VW’s PR department checked-black being the alternative), its infotainment system isn’t available with navigation (not included in my loaner), and its only paid option is a $1,450 panoramic sunroof (check). So this $31,648 SUV is indeed a fully equipped 2017 Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion in standard Pacific Blue paint (new for this year), sans “Wolfsburg Edition” badging. It must have been an early build or someone forgot to add these on at the factory, and yes our North American-spec Tiguans actually do come from VW’s Lower Saxony assembly plant, although not for long as the German brand’s Puebla, Mexico facility will produce its successor.

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
Not the roomiest in its segment, but the Tiguan provides better than average headroom. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
it may be interesting for you to know that Reflex Silver is new to the Tiguan paint palette this year and available with the Wolfsburg Edition too, while other possible Wolfsburg colours include Deep Black Pearl, Pure White, and Night Blue Metallic (a darker hue than our tester), while yet more 2017 Tiguan additions (can you believe they still updated this eight-year old model for its final partial year before getting replaced?) are relegated to pricier Comfortline and Highline trims.

Notable features pulled up from the base Trendline include fog lamps, power adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, tilt and telescopic steering, an electromechanical parking brake, Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice activation, cruise control, air conditioning, a rearview camera, an auxiliary audio
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
That’s one wonderfully airy sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
input, tire pressure monitoring, and all the expected active and passive safety features, so together with the additions mentioned earlier the Wolfsburg Edition is quite well equipped.

The Tiguan’s cabin was always a cut above its peers when it came to perceived quality, or rather the touchy, feely stuff that lends to a more premium experience, although to be fair its aforementioned rivals have stepped up their game considerably, so this VW’s full soft-touch dash top and front door uppers are hardly class leading anymore. In fact, my notes merely said, “materials quality is average for the class.” All door inserts were covered in a pleasantly padded rubberized surfacing, while this Wolfsburg Edition’s armrests featured attractive stitched leatherette. The perforated leatherette seat inserts were even nicer, thanks in part to the no-charge beige detailing mentioned before, while Volkswagen
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
The Tiguan provides plenty of cargo room when compared to subcompact SUVs, plus the convenience of a centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
always includes the best quality leather for its steering wheels, this one no different, with switchgear on the spokes that’s way above average. I like the functionality of the numerous big air vents, allowing you to direct ventilation almost anywhere, while this model also benefits from dual-zone auto HVAC. Lastly, the beautiful panoramic sunroof over top would be well worth the extra coin, as it adds an open airiness to the interior that would help brighten the cabin year round.

On the downside the monochromatic multi-information display within the primary gauge cluster is more of a simple trip computer and therefore somewhat substandard, but last year’s infotainment system upgrade is still state of the art kit. As noted earlier it gets proximity-sensing capability that, for one, brings up a row
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Wolfsburg Edition 4Motion
The nicely finished cargo area includes carpets up the sidewalls. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of go-to digital buttons when your hand gets close. The graphics are attractive as well, while the resolution is excellent and overall usefulness superb. Likewise, my tester’s audio quality was decent for a just-above-base system, although I must criticize the backup camera for carving off the top portion of the visual with an odd black arc.

Such are the challenges of fitting new technologies into an old design, but all in all the Tiguan is impressive considering it’s been on the market for nearly a decade with very little change under the metal. Nevertheless, the 2018 redesign couldn’t come soon enough. Its larger size, fresh styling, updated features and overall newness guarantees it much greater success than the current version, while the outgoing model’s demise will mean a true subcompact SUV can more effectively slot below to do battle in the fast-growing entry-level sport utility segment. Until then, this 2017 Tiguan represents a well-proven alternative that bridges the gap between subcompact and compact SUVs, delivering plenty of performance, refinement, and first-rate tech.
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