Volkswagen’s Tiguan was making inroads into the compact SUV market in 2019 when the pandemic hit and has added features in 2020-2021 to keep it competitive in the industry’s hottest market segment.
2020 VW Tiguan 2.0T SE R-Line Black w/4Motion
The 2020 VW Tiguan added a Wi-Fi hotspot, standardized blind-spot detection, and forward collision alert with automatic braking to earn, with its suite of other driver safety aids like dynamic cruise control, a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety.
For 2021, minor changes include – in various trims – new wheel designs, standard dynamic cruise control, and a power-adjustable front passenger seat. A refreshed Tiguan is slated for 2022.
With one of the biggest and competitively priced compact SUV’s, Tiguan’s Achilles Heel is a small engine that lacks competitive get up and go without rewarding miles per gallon (23 mpg average).
Getting more mpg are top SUV competitors (some labeled mid-size, some compact) such as the best-selling Toyota RAV4 followed by Honda CRV, Chevrolet Equinox, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape.
VW Tiguans, however, can add an optional tight third row for car seats and small children. Without it, the folded second-row expands cargo space to 73.5 cubic feet, ample for carrying large and bulky items for do-it-yourself home weekend projects.
Our test drive was the spiffy-looking Tiguan 2.0T SE R-Line Black with 4/Motion (all-wheel drive) costing a flat $32,615 (no options added).
The R-Line was an included appearance package showcasing high wheel arches above 20-inch wheels wearing all-season tires, front door sill scuff plates, stylish front air vents, side skirts, and badging. Undecorated regular trims are S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium.
All VW Tiguans use a 184-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine providing a stable, comfortable ride with the four-wheel independent suspension, nicely responsive handling, excellent driver visibility, and choice between Eco, Normal, and Sport driving modes for driver customization.
The interior boasts strong fit and finish under a panoramic sunroof above a simple and tasteful cabin.
A survey of Tiguan owners said they liked the exterior styling, interior design, driving dynamics, visibility, safety, and infotainment system.
The interior is mostly quiet, except under maximum acceleration requests. V-Tex leatherette covered comfortable seats and the 8-inch touchscreen is easily reached and manipulated.
Apple CarPlay was accessed via cell phone using VW App-Connect for infotainment, maps, and navigation.
Tiguan’s warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles with two years of free maintenance. There is a spare tire. Visors don’t fully extend.
At a Glance
LIKES: Handling, ride, interior, versatility, cargo space
DISLIKES: Sluggish, some engine noise, low mpg
BOTTOM LINE: Tiguan is slowly making inroads against entrenched competitors in toughest automotive segment
Fact File: 2020 VW TIGUAN 2.0T SE R-Line Black w/4MOTION
2.0-liter, 4 cylinders, direct injection turbo
184-hp @ 4,400 rpm
221 ft.-lbs. @ 1,600 rpm
20 city, 27 hwy
15.9 gallons, regular
0-60 in just over seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.