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2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Test Drive Review

Volkswagen gives its best-selling model a light refresh combined with new safety technology.

7.7 /10
Overall Score

Volkswagen’s most popular model is the Tiguan compact SUV, representing quite a turn of events compared to 2017, when the original version languished at or near the bottom of consumer consideration lists. What happened? Compact crossover SUV sales exploded like a California wildfire during a Santa Ana wind event, and the second-generation Tiguan grew in size to become one of the biggest of the traditional small SUVs. Unsurprisingly, with the updated 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan, the automaker elects to hone instead of change this recipe for success.

Look and Feel

8/ 10

Many of the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan’s rivals are, shall we say, ugly. But not this Vee-Dub. Like other VWs, the refreshed 2022 Tiguan has a creased, folded, and symmetrical design that errs on the side of conservatism. Granted, the approach doesn’t elicit a strong emotional response unless you’re a fan of simplicity and minimalism, but it definitely ages well.

For 2022, new front styling better aligns the Tiguan with Volkswagen’s larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport models. The restyled grille carries the new VW logo, and an illuminated grille bar is available. This year, LED headlights are standard, new nameplate lettering graces the rear liftgate, and all Tiguans get redesigned aluminum wheels.

Volkswagen simplifies the Tiguan lineup for 2022. The SUV comes in S, SE, SE R-Line Black, and SEL R-Line trim with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Prices range from $25,995 to $36,995, and the destination charge to ship it to your dealership from VW’s Puebla, Mexico, factory is $1,195. Our SEL R-Line test vehicle, with its standard 4Motion AWD and an accessory cargo cover, came to $37,970 MSRP.

As was true before, the R-Line models have a sportier look, and the SE R-Line Black comes with a trendy blacked-out appearance. Atlantic Blue Metallic is one of four paint colors for the SEL R-Line, and our evaluation vehicle looked terrific in it, with machined-surface 18-inch alloy wheels matching the SUV’s exterior’s shiny brightwork.

Inside, the Tiguan SEL R-Line features a richer-looking cabin with perforated and piped leather upholstery, new technology, touch-sensing steering wheel and climate controls, and ambient cabin lighting with a choice between 15 different colors. Like the SUV’s exterior, the interior glints with tastefully rendered metallic accents for a decidedly upscale appearance. However, the hard plastic covering the lower half of the cabin gives the Tiguan’s mass-market brand status away.

Every 2022 Tiguan now has a standard keyless entry with push-button engine starting and heated front seats. Starting with SE trim, the new Tiguan includes remote engine starting. Depending on the model, new Cinnamon and Noisette Brown interior colors and a panoramic glass sunroof are available.

Overall, the updated 2022 Tiguan retains its great looks while adding a little extra pizzazz. That should keep it fresh until Volkswagen gives it a full redesign in a few years.

Performance

6/ 10

Volkswagen makes no substantial powertrain changes for 2022. The Tiguan continues to use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 184 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 221 pound-feet of torque kicking off at 1,900 rpm.

An eight-speed automatic transmission transfers the power to the front wheels unless you opt for VW’s 4Motion AWD. Up to half of the power can flow to the rear wheels, but when AWD isn’t needed, the system decouples the rear axle from the drivetrain to save fuel.

Drivers can choose between Eco, Normal, Sport, and programmable Individual driving modes, and these are now standard on all trims for 2022. With 4Motion, an Active Control system supplies Onroad, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad settings.

In Offroad mode, the Tiguan’s Hill Descent Control system engages and operates at speeds up to 19 mph. But with just 7.6 inches of ground clearance available, you’ll want to keep the Tiguan on well-traveled paths. Approach, breakover, and departure angles are pretty shallow, too.

The Tiguan employs MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link independent rear suspension in back. It uses 13.4-inch vented front discs and 11.8-inch solid rear discs, and the variable assist steering automatically lightens up at low speed and firms up at highway speed.

Circling back to the engine’s torque figure, the 221 lb-ft arrives a little later than with some turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The result is momentary turbo lag when accelerating from a stop, so if you’re turning across traffic or onto a busy road, give yourself extra room to accommodate the delayed response.

Once the torque is making itself useful, the Tiguan is enjoyable to drive. But it certainly does seem as though VW should be able to wring more power and performance out of this engine. The supposed benefit is fuel economy, but the EPA says the R-Line with 4Motion will get no better than 24 mpg in combined driving. Our short drive tooling around in Malibu, California, netted a 24.7 mpg average.

As for the ride and handling, the Tiguan is what might be called a 5/10ths kind of a vehicle. In normal driving situations, it feels nimble and responsive thanks to the clear lines of communication between human and machine that are common to German-engineered vehicles. However, if you push the Tiguan much in search of outright fun, the tires and suspension make poor partners in crime.

Will the average consumer care about this? No. But the average Volkswagen loyalist might.

Form and Function

9/ 10

Among compact crossover SUVs, the 2022 VW Tiguan is a giant. The interior is spacious enough that it really ought to be compared to the smaller midsize SUVs such as the Chevrolet Blazer, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Cherokee, and Kia Sorento. Volkswagen even installs a standard third-row seat in models with FWD. Tiguans with 4Motion don’t offer this feature, however.

Our SEL R-Line was exceptionally comfortable. Both front seats came wrapped in leather and offered eight-way power adjustment with heating and ventilation. If you prefer it, you can adjust the seat to create a tall driving position, like you’re sitting at a dining room chair. Outward visibility is excellent, too, and the panoramic glass sunroof lets plenty of light into the cabin.

The Tiguan’s second row is just as roomy, and is comfortable even for adults. That means it will easily accommodate children—even those in reverse-facing child safety seats. The SEL R-Line test vehicle had rear air conditioning vents, a USB smartphone charging port, and a decent amount of storage.

One of the big changes for 2022 is a switch to touch controls on the steering wheel and dashboard. Though they look more sophisticated than the traditional buttons and knobs they replace, they’re also harder to use. It’s easy to miss the touch-sensing zone, and then, when nothing happens in response to your input, confusion sets in, which is distracting to a driver. Perhaps with more time behind the wheel this concern fades to black.

Cargo space continues to rank among the best in the class, though front-drive models with the standard third-row seat make compromises on this front. Behind the third-row seat is a paltry 12 cubic feet available. Fold it down, and the Tiguan supplies a reasonable 33 cubic feet of cargo volume. The maximum number with the rear seat folded down is 65.5 cubic feet.

Our test vehicle, which had standard 4Motion, was even more accommodating. Behind the back seat it had 37.6 cubic feet of luggage volume, while maximum capacity measured 73.4 cubic feet. Both figures are in midsize SUV territory.

Tech Level

6/ 10

For 2022, every Tiguan has standard digital instrumentation, which Volkswagen calls Digital Cockpit. In most versions, it uses an 8-inch display. The SEL R-Line features a new, more sophisticated Digital Cockpit Pro system with a 10.25-inch display.

Introduced last year, Volkswagen’s MIB3 infotainment system carries over in all but the base Tiguan S, which uses MIB2 with a 6.5-inch touchscreen. The MIB3 system has an 8-inch touchscreen display mounted under glass, standard Car-Net connected services, standard App-Connect smartphone mirroring, and SiriusXM 360L satellite radio. Upgrade to the SEL R-Line and you’ll get a redesigned navigation system and an excellent nine-speaker Fender premium audio system.

One improvement VW touts with MIB3 is natural voice recognition. However, during testing, the system proved mighty disappointing. We even asked a VW product expert who was on hand at the driving event to try commands related to find the closest Starbucks or a specific address, and she wasn’t able to make it work.

Well, as it turns out, for this feature to work you must buy a Plus Speech upgrade and add it to an active Car-Net Hotspot subscription plan. The natural voice recognition feature costs nine bucks annually, and it wasn’t active in the evaluation vehicle for testing. So wire your smartphone to MIB3 and just run Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or Mirror Link through the Car-Net App Connect feature.

Speaking of Car-Net, the Remote Access plan is complimentary for five years. It means you can remotely start the engine, operate the door locks, find where the Tiguan was last parked, and set Family Guardian alerts for when younger drivers are in the household.

The Safe & Secure plan is an upgrade, the most important elements of which are automatic crash notification and emergency assistance. Then there’s the Hotspot plan that supplies a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot via Verizon or T-Mobile. In addition to Plus Speech, you can also add Plus Navigation and Plus Online Radio to your Hotspot plan. If you subscribe to every Car-Net plan, you’ll spend an extra $250 a year.

Beyond infotainment, the 2022 Tiguan offers an available Park Assist system that can autonomously steer the SUV into a parallel or perpendicular parking space. It is standard with SEL R-Line trim.

Safety

9/ 10

For 2022, Front Assist (forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection) and Side Assist (blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert) are standard on the Tiguan S. Additionally, Volkswagen adds a couple of significant safety-related improvements to the Tiguan’s IQ Drive collection of advanced driving assistance systems.

The first one is Travel Assist. It combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance, and it works at speeds over 40 mph. To use it, set the adaptive cruise control to the speed you wish to travel, and then push the proper steering wheel icon that shows a cruise control pictogram with lane markings.

This sounds easy, but with the switch to touch-sensing controls rendered in glossy black plastic, it’s not. Depending on how much reflection the buttons on the steering wheel cast, it can be hard to find the Travel Assist icon. Then, if you don’t push on it just right, it might not engage. We encountered situations in which we thought Travel Assist was on, but it wasn’t. So make sure you have it engaged before relying on it.

The other important upgrade is Emergency Assist. This feature operates when the Tiguan’s Travel Assist is active. If the driver lets go of the steering wheel or becomes otherwise unresponsive, after a series of prompts and warnings of increasing urgency, it will begin to slow the SUV and can safely bring the Tiguan to a full stop in its lane of travel.

The 2021 Tiguan earned a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Perhaps the newly standard LED headlights and more sophisticated driver aids will improve that score for 2022.

Cost-Effectiveness

8/ 10

By consolidating last year’s SEL and SEL Premium R-Line into a single SEL R-Line trim level, Volkswagen not only simplifies the 2022 Tiguan lineup but also reduces the price of the top-shelf version of the SUV.

Additionally, the automaker’s standard Carefree Coverage plan includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance, three years of roadside assistance, a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, and five free years of Car-Net Remote connected services.

While this makes the 2022 Tiguan more appealing in terms of value than some competitors, it still pales in comparison to others. In particular, the Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe, which bookend the Tiguan in size and price, crush the VW on this front. But then, they crush just about every competitor in the same manner.

At less than $38,000 in top trim, our test Tiguan’s sticker price aligned well with the class sales leaders. And when you factor in the Carefree Coverage plan, the Tiguan’s undeniably impressive utility, and its engaging driving dynamics in typical situations, it makes a good alternative to the same Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4 everyone else is driving.

Updated by Christian Wardlaw

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