2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

Once upon a time, the Beetle was VW's best seller. Today, it's the Tiguan.

White Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line driving on highwayVolkswagen

Review QuickTakes:

Volkswagen sells more Tiguans than any other model in its lineup, underscoring the shift in consumer preferences from cars to SUVs. It is a compact crossover and competes in America's broadest and most popular vehicle segment. However, the Volkswagen Tiguan wasn't always in demand. VW's first-generation Tiguan was too small for Americans, mainly concerning its cargo space. There simply wasn't much of it behind the back seat, limiting the model's appeal.

Volkswagen fixed that problem with the second-generation Tiguan, which arrived for the 2018 model year. Parts of the world that still wanted a small Tiguan got one. Regions where consumers preferred larger models received an extended-wheelbase version of the Tiguan, complete with an available third-row seat. That change sealed the deal with Americans drawn to Volkswagens, and the Tiguan has overtaken the automaker's best-selling Jetta sedan to lead the company's sales in the U.S. market.

Now, the 2022 VW Tiguan gets a well-rounded refresh that improves the SUV in numerous ways. To evaluate the changes for this 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan review, we test-drove an SE R-Line Black with standard front-wheel drive (FWD) in Southern California. It came with the extra-cost Oryx White paint, bringing the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to about $34,640, including the $1,295 destination charge. Volkswagen provided the vehicle for this Tiguan review.

Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line interior dashboardVolkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: The Design

Subtle exterior styling updates signal the refreshed 2022 Tiguan. It gets new headlights and taillights, a revised grille, and a redesigned front bumper. In addition, the latest iteration of the VW logo graces the grille and tailgate, and block-style lettering spells out the SUV's name on the back. New wheel designs also debut.

The changes don't detract from what I thought was already one of the best-looking compact crossovers you can buy. The Tiguan has the clean, chiseled look typical of Volkswagens, and while it can come across as conservative, VW's design aesthetic ages remarkably well over time. Volkswagen equips R-Line models with sportier-looking bumpers and larger wheels.

My SE R-Line Black test vehicle is VW's response to a trend. It blacks out nearly all of the exterior chrome and adds gloss black wheels so dark you can barely see them. The look isn't my favorite, but at least the test model had white paint and a high-contrast Cinnamon over Titan Black interior treatment.

Volkswagen offers a choice between cloth (S trim), V-Tex simulated leather (SE trim), and genuine leather (SEL trim) inside the 2022 Tiguan. The test vehicle's cinnamon V-Tex looked good and felt like the real thing. Door panel inserts match the seat color, but the rest of the SE R-Line Black's interior is, well, black except for the typically German metallic trim and accents. The result is an interior with high color contrast and an upscale appearance.

Every 2022 Tiguan has digital instrumentation and a touchscreen infotainment system. The SUV's controls are logically located, except for the engine start button, which Volkswagen tucks back and down low on the center console. However, VW is now using touch-sensing, haptic-feedback controls on the steering wheel and the climate control panel. Unfortunately, they have gloss-black plastic surfaces, suffer glare and reflections, and frequently fail to respond or accidentally activate when you don't intend for them to. Plus, the climate control panel is mounted low and requires the driver to look down and entirely away from the road to make adjustments. These changes represent a step backward for the Tiguan.

Fortunately, the Tiguan remains comfortable for shorter journeys. In front, heated seats are standard, and with SE trim, the driver gets eight-way power adjustment while the passenger receives a manual height adjuster. If you prefer, you can sit up tall in the Tiguan with an excellent view forward and to the sides of the SUV. In addition, the steering wheel's shape and feel in your hands are perfect. However, a height-adjustable center armrest would be nice to have.

Rear passengers are equally satisfied with their accommodations. The Tiguan's back doors open wide for easy entry and exit, and this compact SUV offers just as much legroom and foot room as some mid-size SUVs. If you're the parent of a newborn who rides in a reverse-facing child safety seat, check out the Tiguan. And if your kids are older, like mine, the air conditioning vents and a single USB charging port help to keep teenagers happy, though a second USB port would be welcome. Also, because the Tiguan is narrow, two adults will be more comfortable than three.

During a family trip from the Los Angeles suburbs to Yosemite National Park, my family found that the Tiguan supplied plenty of storage space for everything we brought into the SUV. However, we also discovered that after several hours in the vehicle, the Tiguan's front and rear seats start to feel stiff and uncomfortable, encouraging regular rest stops.

While the Tiguan front-wheel drive has a third-row seat, it is not habitable for adults. I climbed in and thought I would get stuck, forcing me to yell at the house for help from my wife. The pass-through to the third-row is narrow, and to accommodate my 33-inch inseam legs, I had to slide the second-row seat nearly all the way forward, leaving no legroom for someone who might want to sit there. Furthermore, my head was contacting the ceiling. So, I recommend using a Tiguan's third-row seat only for little kids and only when necessary.

Besides, when you have the Tiguan's third-row seat raised, it leaves just 12 cu.-ft. of cargo space. That's enough for a grocery shopping trip, and on either side of the load floor, VW includes deep storage wells perfect for jugs of milk, bottles of wine, or other items you'd prefer didn't roll around. Fold the third-row seats down, and you've got 33 cu.-ft. of cargo space, perfect for accommodating our luggage for our long weekend in Yosemite. Maximum cargo space measures 65.3 cu.-ft.

With AWD, the Tiguan does not have a third-row seat. This omission increases the amount of cargo volume to 37.6 cu.-ft. behind the back seat, and a maximum of 73.4 cu.-ft. with the rear seat folded down. These numbers are among the most generous in the compact SUV segment and even match well against some mid-size SUVs.

Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line infotainment systemVolkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: The Technology

The Tiguan's roomy interior is a strong selling point, and many people might also find the SUV's list of standard and available infotainment systems and safety features appealing.

In the Tiguan S, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit digital instrumentation is standard, shown on an 8-inch display. Additionally, the MIB2 infotainment system has a 6.5-inch touchscreen and equips the Tiguan with Bluetooth connectivity and App-Connect access to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link. It also supplies the Tiguan with Car-Net connected services. Three plans are available, and you get a complimentary five-year trial subscription to the one called Remote Services. Otherwise, you'll need to pay a monthly or annual fee to enjoy Car-Net Safe & Secure and Car-Net Hotspot.

Starting with the Tiguan SE, a more sophisticated MIB3 infotainment platform is standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display. It includes multi-phone pairing to the system's Bluetooth and wireless App-Connect, enhanced voice recognition, added USB ports, and satellite radio with a complimentary three-month subscription. The Tiguan SEL R-Line adds a larger 10.25-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro digital gauge cluster, a navigation system, and an excellent Fender premium sound system with nine speakers.

Usually, I will test a vehicle's voice recognition technology and navigation system to determine how fast, accurate, and frustration-free it is. Unfortunately, since the test vehicle did not have navigation, I couldn't perform this evaluation. Based on previous experience, however, unless you pay for the Car-Net Hotspot Wi-Fi subscription and then add the Plus Speech upgrade, it's best to run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use the platforms you already know. My family did that on our road trip, and it worked great until we couldn't get a cell signal. Then, not so much.

Family Guardian is part of the Car-Net Remote Services plan, which is free for the first five years you own the Tiguan. It allows parents of teenage drivers to set speed, curfew, and geographic boundary limits and to receive alerts when their child exceeds them. Car-Net's Safe & Secure plan costs extra from the first day of ownership and provides automatic collision notification and an SOS emergency assistance call button.

Volkswagen also equips the Tiguan with numerous driver-assist and collision avoidance features. Every example of the SUV has forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Starting with SE trim, the 2022 Tiguan also has Volkswagen's IQ Drive collection of safety features. Lane assist adds lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Travel assist equips the SUV with adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist. Emergency assist senses when a driver is no longer holding the steering wheel and can bring the SUV to a safe stop while activating the emergency flashers. The IQ Drive features are optional for the base Tiguan S.

The Tiguan SE R-Line Black's steering wheel has two cruise control buttons. One activates the adaptive cruise control alone, and the other activates travel assist. Reflections and glare can cause confusion, so don't activate the adaptive cruise and assume you're also getting lane-centering assistance. Furthermore, when the adaptive cruise control, lane assist, or travel assist systems are active, icons within the digital instrumentation illuminate. However, in my opinion, they do not clearly convey what's turned on and what's turned off.

With that said, the Tiguan's driving assistance and collision avoidance systems work well, except for lane assist. On a local freeway that recently underwent construction, highway workers removed temporary paint lines and scarred the concrete. The Tiguan sees these scars and attempts to steer itself onto off-ramps rather than continue straight on the newly striped pavement. While this was the most egregious example of the technology failing to perform its task, it proved irritating enough over time that I preferred driving the Tiguan without lane assist.

As far as crash-test ratings go, the 2022 Tiguan earns high marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS has assessed the Tig and this vehicle has earned a Top Safety Pick (TSP+) rating.

Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line front quarterVolkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: The Drive

If Volkswagen could make one change that would dramatically improve satisfaction with the Tiguan, it would be to get rid of this version of the company's turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine and replace it with the one they make standard in the larger Atlas Cross Sport and Atlas models.

The Tiguan's engine makes 184 hp at 6,000 rpm and 221 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 1,900 rpm. The turbocharged 2.0L VW uses in the Atlas supplies 235 hp at about 5,400 rpm and 258 lb.-ft. of torque starting at 1,600 rpm. The issue is not that the Tiguan needs more power, though acceleration and passing ability are merely adequate at best. Instead, the Tig's driving character and turbo lag are a source of irritation.

For example, when the engine is cold, it can feel as though it is stumbling, and the eight-speed automatic transmission is seemingly confused about what it should be doing. Once the engine is warmed up, the driveability improves, but there is still a delay between when your right foot pushes down on the accelerator pedal and when the engine responds. The transmission has a Sport mode, and if you select it, most of the turbo lag and drivetrain hesitation vanishes, but then you must deal with unexpected and excessive surges of torque.

Volkswagen Group knows how to engineer an excellent turbocharged four-cylinder engine, so I think there isn't much of an excuse for this powertrain's driveability problems. Furthermore, when you're cruising along at city speeds of about 35 mph, such as when you're driving the road that loops around Yosemite Valley, and you need to brake just a little bit to decrease speed, brake pedal response is inconsistent. Sometimes the pedal feels firm and easy to modulate under your foot. At other times nothing happens, so you add pressure, and then the brakes grab, causing your passengers' heads to snap forward.

Otherwise, the Tiguan was great to drive during our road trip, and on the driving loop I use for every vehicle. On my family's road trip, it averaged 29.5 mpg. On the evaluation loop, it got 25.1 mpg. These numbers align with the official EPA fuel economy ratings for a front-drive Tiguan: 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving.

Furthermore, the Tiguan is relatively quiet inside. And when you drive it with enthusiasm, its baked-in German goodness reveals itself in the form of accurate, properly weighted steering and suspension tuning that delivers an irresistible blend of compliance and composure. For example, when you're threading a mountain or a canyon road in a Tiguan, it displays stable, predictable behavior.

Too bad stability and predictability don't apply to everything about the 2022 VW Tiguan.

Is the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan a Good SUV?

There are numerous reasons to choose a 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan, especially if you're looking for an affordable, roomy, and practical crossover SUV with a sense of style and rewarding ride and handling qualities. However, several aggravating traits are related to the driving experience, the controls, and the technology. Unfortunately, many are inconsistently irritating, so you can't acclimate to them by adjusting your approach or behavior. Instead, you must react to each instance. And that causes additional aggravation in and of itself.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.