Auto review: Tech


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Jul 18, 2023

Auto review: Tech

In the world of SUVs, Volkswagen is well represented. Their lineup includes a

In the world of SUVs, Volkswagen is well represented. Their lineup includes a variety of options, including the Taos, Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport and ID.4 EV.

One other option they have — slotting in above the subcompact Taos and midsize Atlas — is the Tiguan, Volkwagen's compact SUV offering, which manages to present a strong argument for itself even though it's battling some very tough rivals from Honda, Toyota, Ford and beyond.

I recently drove a 2023 VW Tiguan, which has minor updates after a more involved refresh came with the 2022 model, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up.

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

Courtesy of Volkswagen

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan features an understated yet elegant exterior design. Its traditional, sparse but stylish European design is reminiscent of VW's luxury Audi lineup.

My test vehicle — an SEL R-Line 4MOTION, the top trim level — had a Platinum Gray metallic paint scheme, and sharp 20-inch Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tires. The 20-inchers featured alloy wheels and anti-theft wheel locks. Base version of the Tiguan comes with 17-inch wheels.

LED lighting is featured in the front and rear of the Tiguan, and it includes an integrated light bar in the front grille.

Side mirrors are power-folding, heated and can save position memory. The Tiguan also includes rain sensing intermittent front wipers with heated weather nozzles, and a rear window washer and wiper.

The power-tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof is a classy addition, and the R-Line models get a unique grille and exterior trim, as well as silver roof rails.

While not a luxury model, the classy touches on the Tiguan make it look more pricey than the actual cost. Its curb weight is just over 4,000 pounds.

Moving inside the Tiguan, one thing that stands out is the roominess of the vehicle. In fact, most trim levels come standard with a third row of seating, something you rarely see in the compact SUV category. The third row is a bit tight and best for kids, but can be handy if you have a lot of family or friends relying on you to get around and want that versatility to seat up to 7 people.

While that third row being available is impressive, I would recommend choosing a Tiguan without the third row (it goes away if you upgrade to all-wheel drive), as this vastly opens the space in the vehicle and makes it one of the most comfy small SUVs you can buy.

The interior was very well-designed, and quite high-end for the price range. Like the exterior, it's not flashy, but I would call it elegant and quite comfortable.

My test vehicle featured classy brown leather, a passenger volume of 100 cubic feet, and a cargo volume of 38 cubic feet (rear seats up) or 73 cubic feet (rear seats down) on the two-row version. These are excellent numbers that compare well to top-selling small SUVs in the Tiguan's category.

The three-row Tiguan offers just 12 cubic feet of storage with three rows of seats up, 33 cubic feet with two rows up and 65 cubic feet with both rear rows down.

Other interior touches include dual-zone automatic climate control, adjustable air vents in the second row, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and a split folding rear seat (40/20/40) with center armrest.

There is only one power plant option in the 2023 Tiguan — a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that claims 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

FWD is standard on the Tiguan, but you can opt for an AWD setup by adding VW's 4Motion system. (Note: Choosing the AWD version means you’ll lose the option for a third row of seats). The Tiguan features electric power steering and a four-wheel independent suspension.

The Tiguan features a strong overall drive quality, providing even a bit of a sporty feel at times. It's not super fast from 0-to-60, taking about 9 seconds, but as a whole it provides an enjoyable driving experience. The Tiguan handles well and can merge onto the freeway without worry, and drives very smoothly once you’re moving.

The overall experience is mostly quiet, respectable but not spectacular. You’ll enjoy getting behind the wheel, but I would recommend a bit of a power bump for future model years.

The vehicle also handles bumpy roads quite well when compared to rival crossovers.

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan delivers a classy looking and very solid overall technology package, centered around the Discover Media infotainment system, which features an 8-inch touchscreen. It includes navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, AM/FM/HD radio, satellite radio (trial subscription), and voice controls — which worked well both for controlling music and the navigation system.

Directly in front of the driver is the VW Digital Cockpit Pro, which features a 10.25-inch configurable digital display, and a handy wireless charger for your phone is included.

There's an anti-theft system with engine immobilizer, keyless access to the front doors and liftgate (just move your foot to open or close the trunk), and remote start capability.

Inside the vehicle, some of the controls can be difficult to master or overly touchy, but thankfully the voice commands work well enough to make it a rare situation when physical controls need to be utilized.

My test vehicle offered a 480-watt Fender Premium audio system with a subwoofer, which offered decent but not amazing sound. Bluetooth capability allows you to stream audio and phone calls to the vehicle and it's easy to connect a phone.

Moving on to safety, the Tiguan comes well-equipped, as any vehicle must do if it wants to compete in this segment. The Tiguan's IQ.DRIVE system features Travel Assist, which provides semi-automated driving assistance. It does a decent job of steering on curvy roads, but not as good as some rivals.

The Tiguan also features adaptive cruise control, a lane keeping system, emergency assist system, forward collision warning, emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring and blind spot monitor. Six airbags are included, as are electronic stability control, LATCH system for child seats, tire pressure monitoring system, rearview camera system with overhead view, and more. This all adds up to a top safety rating.

The official fuel mileage numbers on the 2023 VW Tiguan are 21 city/28 highway/24 combined.On my journeys, I was averaging closer to 20 mpg during my time testing the vehicle. Opting for the front-wheel drive Tiguan will get those ratings up to 24 city/31 mpg.

These numbers are unremarkable in the segment, and eclipsed by many competitors in the compact SUV class.

The loaded 2023 Tiguan I tested was priced at $38,615, and the base price starts around $28K. Trim levels include S (starts at $28.2K), SE ($31.8K), SE R-Line Black ($34.6K) and SEL R-Line ($39K). These numbers are on the level of many competitors, but more pricey than some alternatives.

Warranties included four-years/50,000 miles on both overall bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties. You also get roadside assistance for three years/36,000 miles, and free scheduled maintenance for two years/20,000 miles. Of note: These warranties are a step down from previous VW models that offered 6 years/72K miles of coverage.

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan is a tech-savvy SUV that also delivers an elegant and roomy design, capped off by a smooth and enjoyable ride quality. It's a compact crossover that feels bigger than the competition.

The only real downsides to the vehicle are that it's not the most powerful in the segment, and some of its high-tech controls are probably overdone.

In a field of tough competitors, Volkswagen has put forth a strong effort that will surprise a lot of people in a good way, if they take it for a test drive.

Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at [email protected]. His past reviews can all be seen online at Follow AutoTechReviews on Instagram at @Autotechreviews.

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