2018 Volkswagen Tiguan: It’s new; it’s here; it’s changed!

Just spent a pleasant week in the all-new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan. And when I say all-new, I mean it! There’s nothing that carries over from the first-generation Tiguan beyond the name (see below), much to the initial disappointment of my partner who drives one and was considering the new model as a replacement.

No, the 2018 Tiguan is a much bigger, heavier vehicle that really looks nothing like the previous Tiguan other than being an SUV. Available in Volkswagen’s typical Trendline, Comfortline and Highline trim levels, our Highline “4Motion” all-wheel drive test vehicle stickered at $39,175 (the front-wheel drive Trendline starts at $28,925).

First visual impressions were positive, as the added 270 millimeter length (almost one foot) gives Tiguan a sleek, straight-edged profile that’s eye-catching and appealing, especially in Habanero Orange Metallic with darkened privacy glass with which ours was equipped. The dimensions completely change the character of the Tiguan from cute to capable. An improvement, in my view.

Under the hood, the 2.0L, four-cylinder 184-horsepower engine delivers sufficient power to move the 1,713-kilogram Tiguan smartly off the line, especially in “Sport” mode. However, it’s not as quick and nimble as its lighter predecessor that had 200hp on tap. Ask for more acceleration and the engine lets you know it’s working in this vehicle, although the new eight-speed automatic transmission gets the most out of it while supplying almost imperceptible gearshifts. Gone, thankfully, is the annoying low-speed shuddering characteristic of the old six-speed automatic as it resisted shifting down in an attempt to maximize fuel economy.

Good news is that this Tiguan uses regular grade gasoline rather than the increasingly expensive premium previously required. However, range is compromised by fuel consumption of 11.3/8.8 L/100km, city/highway that’s about 15% more (!) than the outgoing model, and it has a smaller fuel tank (57L versus 64L).

However, as I say, it looks good and it offers a very spacious interior (huge legroom for rear-seat passengers) and big cargo capacity. I should mention a third-row seat option is available, which would certainly eat up most of the cargo capacity.

Unfortunately, towing capacity has been reduced to 1,500 lbs from the more useful 2,200 lbs available from first-gen Tiguan. The latter enabled us to confidently tow a vintage camper trailer 15,000 km on our 2017 Cross-Canada 150 Adventure, and if anything, I was expecting equal or increased towing capacity from the new bigger Tiguan. But no.

That said, the new Tiguan does, as we say, drive small, although one is conscious of the length when cornering. Controls are easy to use (a good combination of touchscreen, buttons and rotary knobs) and available features (power liftgate, heated steering wheel, Fender audio, cornering lights) are welcome. All in all, the new Tiguan exceeded expectations

Built in Mexico, the new Tiguan is surely targetted to American tastes for larger, boxier SUVs with room for seven (the new Volkswagen Atlas is something of a 2XL version). But my partner did warm to it, liking the looks, the colour, the controls and the practicality. She says she won’t be a buyer, though. Too big.

But maybe just right for you!

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan:

Base: $28,925

As tested: $39,175

Origin: Puebla, Mexico

What does the name “Tiguan” mean? Got this from Wikipedia: The name Tiguan, pronounced TEE-gwan, is a portmanteau of the German words Tiger (“tiger”) and Leguan (“iguana”) and won a naming contest by German car magazine publisher Auto Bild — from a field of names that also included Namib, Rockton, Liger, Samun and Nanuk.

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