Volkswagen Tiguan: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

We Like: Modern tech and good looks

We Don’t Like: Cramped third row; weak engine; weird handling

After nearly 10 years on the same compact platform, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan finally received a redesign, which grew it by a whopping 10.6 inches in overall length.

That allowed VW to add a third row—not that you’d ever want to use it due to its cramped nature. At its heart, the Tiguan is still a compact SUV. The diminutive Erick Ayapana was brave enough to climb in the back, which he called “an adventure.” Ed Loh described the seating position as “basically on the floor … knees very high and head touching the headliner.” Angus MacKenzie said it was “useless for all but small children.” Although a five-seat version is available for Tiguans with 4Motion all-wheel drive; front-drive Tiguans only come with seven seats. Bummer.

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The third row wasn’t the only place where our judges showed dissatisfaction. Driving dynamics were not what we’ve expected from VW. Gordon Dickie found the 2.0-liter engine “sluggish and underwhelming” hauling this larger mass. And the Tiguan’s handling was roundly criticized. “You go around the corner, and the back end just doesn’t want to play along,” Mark Rechtin said. Over washboards and Belgian blocks, drivers suffered significant jostling.

Are there plusses? Sure. Although the third row is a torture chamber, the second row is remarkably spacious. The Tiguan handled our silty, hilly off-road course with aplomb, regardless of which drive mode was selected. We enjoyed the modern Volkswagen Digital Cockpit with its easy-to-use infotainment system and thumping Fender stereo. But the Tiguan’s faults cannot be overlooked.

Read about other 2018 SUV of the Year contenders:

  • Audi Q5
  • BMW X4
  • Buick Encore
  • Buick Envision
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Jeep Compass
  • Maserati Levante
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
  • Nissan Rogue Sport
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion
BASE PRICE $ 34,750
PRICE AS TESTED $ 39,245
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/184-hp/221-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,083 lb (54/46%)
WHEELBASE 109.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 185.1 x 72.4 x 66.3 in
0-60 MPH 8.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.5 sec @ 81.5 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 134 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.3 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/27/23 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.83 lb/mile

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