DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I’ll give credit to Volkswagen -- the Tiguan SE carries the company’s reputation for solid, Teutonic handling well, but it also carries VW’s reputation for making overpriced, underequipped vehicles. Regardless of how it drives -- and it’s just good on that front, nothing spectacular -- this 2014 Tiguan SE feels like a bargain-basement stripper on the inside. For $28,500, about the only upgrades this model gets are heated side mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Even VW’s marketing gurus apparently had trouble finding reasons to promote the Tiguan SE. On VW’s website they tout “front comfort seats” (as opposed to…) and they give the fancy name “Climatic” to manual, single-zone HVAC…basically the same thing you could get in an ’88 Golf. It all comes off as very disingenuous.
What about usable safety and convenience features like blind spot monitoring, rear park assist, a backup camera, heated power seats? You know, the kinds of things you get on just about every competitor at the same price? Nein. Step up to the $33K SEL before you get that level of stuff. There’s no 4Motion AWD at this price point, either. Correction: 4Motion is available on the Tiguan S and SE as an extra cost option.
My advice? Skip the Tiguan entirely and buy a GTI -- you only lose about 3 cubic feet of cargo space, but you save $3,000. Sounds like a winner.
What is it?This is Mk. VII for a car that has defined its brand -- and a category -- for 30 years. Given its near-complete makeover, it probably goes without saying the 2015 Volkswagen GTI is the best ...
The 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SE receives an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined fuel economy.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: Copy on all of that, Mr. Stoy. This 2014 VW Tiguan SE made me feel like I stepped back a few years into an old Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The styling, inside and out, and VW badging might be reasonably smart to some eyes, but that’s effectively the extent of its appeal.
As Andy notes, the driving experience is rather benign; I don’t have any particular complaints about it, but neither did I once find myself thinking, “What a fun little trucklet.” The leatherette-covered seats are neither sporty nor luxurious, and the gurgling from the familiar 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivers no perception of up-market-ness. And also as Andy points out, the lack of equipment and almost-$30K price- tag had me staring at this Tiguan with a blank look on my face.
So … yeahhhhhhhh … easy pass for me on this one. It’s difficult to imagine the buyer who walks into a VW showroom and drives away in this, especially at an undiscounted price.
We prefer the Volkswagen GTI over the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SE.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAY RAMEY: The standard drive mode and the sport mode in the Tiguan 2.0 TSI are a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation when it comes to the crossover’s driving behavior, but there weren’t really any occasions when I felt I absolutely needed the extra oomph. If the Tiguan were loaded down with a couple hundred pounds of cargo, I might feel differently, but I suspect all but the most impatient drivers will prefer the standard driving mode.
The Tiguan’s driving manners were good, for the most part. It’s a short crossover in terms of length, with a very tall cabin, so I expected it to be a little wobbly over potholes. That height also made it lean a bit more than I wanted to in the corners, though not to an uncomfortable degree. The suspension always managed to compose itself quickly after a long series of bumps without getting overwhelmed, and the steering wheel resisted invitations to twist when dealing with a long series of potholes. Wind and road noise were very minimal, much less than I’ve encountered in small SUVs in this segment, though the 2.0-liter TSI engine sounded a bit coarse. Transmission shifts were more noticeable in the Tiguan than in some of its competitors (the Ford Escape, for example), but the operation of the automatic gearbox appeared well sorted even if a bit intrusive in terms of sound and feel.
The Tiguan’s short wheelbase gives it great maneuverability and a tight turning radius -- something one can always appreciate when negotiating tight parking garages and parking lots that are narrower than they should be -- and since this is a tall SUV with plenty of glass that meant that outward visibility was great all around. No blind spots were created by excessively dramatic bodywork, which is more than I can say for some other entries in the class, so that’s an often-overlooked benefit of the somewhat plain exterior design.
The 2014 model is the second to last year of this generation of the Tiguan -- it’s been in production since 2007, lest we forget -- and the new model is rumored to be far more adventurous in terms of exterior design. Exterior and interior design of the Tiguan has aged well even though VW is now going for slightly sharper edges when it comes to its design language, but there is still plenty to like about the first-generation car.
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