The Volkswagen Tiguan exterior for 2014 continues a bit plain and frankly, uninspiring at first look, but the simple lines and somewhat boxy shape - that is a bit taller than the competition at 67.1-inches - conceals a pretty well crafted combination of features and functionality that gets the job done competitively within its segment at all of its trim levels.
Our test Tiguan for the week was the SE in Deep Black Metallic Exterior paint with Black Leatherette interior at a base MSRP of $26,995.
We would note that, in Texas, black on black challenges the responsiveness of the air conditioning on many cars we test. Not so with the Tiguan, even after several hours in the sun and temps over 100 degrees, our Tiguan cooled quickly and was comfortable before we exited the parking lot every time.
Options included were a set of Monster Mats and a Heavy Duty Cargo Mat with Cargo Holding Blocks for $235 and a First Aid Kit for $35. With delivery, the cost of our 2014 VW Tiguan SE was $28,130.
The Tiguan makes up in road handling and performance where it comes up a bit short on style and flash.
We found the TSI Turbo to have more than enough power for all of our driving requirements with its 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque delivered to the front-wheel drive through the six-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual shifting, Sport mode, and Dynamic Shift Program (DSP).
Premium fuel is recommended by VW for the Tiguan which imposes a small penalty on the otherwise decent fuel economy rating of 21/26 mpg City/Highway and average of 23 mpg.
The six-speed automatic transmission includes a second overdrive gear to reduce engine revs at cruising speeds. The transmission in non-Sport mode shifts at slightly lower revs, making greater use of the turbo engine’s considerable torque which added significantly to both city and highway acceleration and cruising.
Electro-mechanical power steering with variable assistance contributed to the Tiguan’s handling character with highway speed steering firm and direct, with increased assistance in city driving and while parking.
All five models in the 2014 Tiguan are powered by the 2.0 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine. All models that are equipped with an automatic transmission also have the option of 4Motion all-wheel drive with a six-speed manual transmission offered only on the front-wheel drive Tiguan S.
With a starting MSRP of $22,995, the 2.0T Tiguan S is the entry to the Tiguan range. Key standard features include a six-speed manual transmission; 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 215/65 R16 98H all-season tires for the automatic model and steel wheels for the manual model; electronic parking brake; power-adjustable, heated side mirrors; Bluetooth technology; trailer hitch prep; cloth seating; front manual lumbar support and height adjustment; split-folding rear seats with recline and center armrest; carpeted floor mats; cruise control; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel; leather shift knob; speed-sensitive power steering; multi-function display; Climatic air conditioning; intermittent front windshield wipers; 40/20/40-split folding rear seat; and an eight-speaker sound system with in-dash CD player.
Our test car was the SE is priced from $26,995 and takes the S automatic features and adds 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/50 R17 97H all-season tires; V-Tex leatherette seating; heatable front seats; power driver seat recline; privacy glass; VW Car-Net connected services; heated front washer nozzles; and Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod adapter.
SE with Appearance
The Appearance enhanced SE is priced from $29,620 and adds passenger seat power recline; 18-inch alloy wheels; silver roof rails; chrome trim; front fog and cornering lights; rearview camera; Keyless entry with push-button start; Premium VIII radio with auxiliary input and satellite radio.
The SEL is priced from $32,670, adding a panoramic, power sunroof; dual-zone Climatronic climate control; the Fender Premium Audio System; and the RNS-315 touchscreen navigation system.
The top-of-the-line dynamic and sport-focused R-Line has a starting MSRP of $36,535. It starts from the SEL and adds 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 255/40 R19 96H all-season tires; black wheelarch extensions; sport suspension; leather seating surfaces; power adjustable front seats with power lumbar and memory on the driver’s side; R-Line roof spoiler and aluminum sill kickplates, body-color side skirts and R-Line badging.
Also included is a flat bottomed leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters for the automatic transmission; stainless-steel pedal cluster; decorative inserts on door trim panels; Titanium black headliner; interior light in footwell; intermittent front windshield wipers with rain sensor; power foldable/adjustable/heated exterior mirrors with surround lighting and curb view; auto-dimming rearview mirror; Bi-Xenon headlights with AFS and LED daytime running lights, low-beam assist and “coming home” function.
The Tiguan is designed to be an efficient compact SUV for multiple uses with robust roof rails that can accommodate an array of accessories such as bike racks, or kayak and surfboard carriers.
An available towing hitch accepts an attachment to carry up to four bikes, or can be used to pull up to 2,200 pounds of jet skis, dirt bikes or ATVs when properly equipped.
Though our test vehicle was the front-wheel drive (FWD) SE model, the Volkswagen 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is offered on all models with the six-speed automatic transmission. Added traction for the 2014 Tiguan comes from the electro-hydraulic system which delivers drive to all four wheels without any buttons to press or levers to pull. A Haldex center differential can continuously vary the driveforce between the front and rear axles, depending on the traction available.
In most driving conditions, 90 percent of the drive goes to the front wheels, which helps save fuel. But when accelerating from standstill, for example, front-wheel slip is controlled by the Haldex coupling’s ability to progressively direct nearly 100 percent of the drive torque to the rear wheels.
The cabin design for the 2014 Tiguan is much like the exterior, uninspiring in appearance and a bit plain in materials (at least in our SE), but has spacious seating for five adults, easy step-in through the wide-opening doors in front (a bit tighter in back) with generous legroom and headroom.
We would note that the SE we tested had the Black Leatherette interior which could have been a bit confining if not for the fact that this interior is two-tone with beige materials used above window lines to enhance the look of the space.
The rear seat has a 40/20/40 split to fit an owner’s load-carrying needs. Fold down the wide center section and it can accommodate skis, or fishing gear, or rugs, while still having space for passengers on either side. With the rear seats in place, there is still an impressive 23.8 cubic feet of space in the load area. Fold the second row seats forward and it increases to 56.1 cubic feet.
And for the ultimate in load carrying, the available folding front passenger seatback also folds forward and flat to accommodate loads up to 98 inches long. The rear seat can also slide forward six inches to increase luggage space in the back.
The high-lifting rear door can be opened wide to accommodate large objects. In the cargo area, there are tie-down hooks to help keep stuff in place and a 12-volt outlet to power coolers or air pumps along with very nice sized storage bins under the cargo deck and on either side.
If flashy styling is not at the top of your list and multi-functional reliable performance with VW quality is, then the 2014 Tiguan is well worth the look.