CARS.COM — The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is one of the big surprises of the year. It got a massive overhaul, then came roaring out of nowhere to win our latest Compact SUV Challenge. When I found out it had won, I did a double-take — in part because the previous version suffered from big problems. You know, little things, like being too small inside and way too expensive to boot.
The redesigned Tiguan aggressively addressed the shortcomings of the previous model, and it's now one of the biggest competitors in the class — as well as having been the longest vehicle in our Challenge, with the lowest as-tested price! Combine that with an excellent multimedia system and really good visibility all-around, and it becomes easy to see why we are such big fans of the Tiguan.
Now it's time to see how the Tiguan stacks up in the real world against its EPA-estimated numbers. Here's what we tested:
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE With 4Motion
- Powertrain: 184-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 221 pounds-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
- Fuel economy: 21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined
- Key features: 8-inch multimedia display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual-zone automatic climate control, two USB ports, leatherette seating surfaces, backup camera, autonomous forward emergency braking, blind spot warnings, heated front seats
- As-tested price: $30,280, including a $900 destination charge
The SE with 4Motion (Volkswagen's fancy name for all-wheel drive) gets slightly worse fuel economy than front-wheel-drive models, which add 1 mpg to the city (22 mpg) and combined (24 mpg) figures.
I took the Tiguan on a 921.3-mile journey from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area for Thanksgiving, along with a few passengers, luggage and one blind dog. Along with the holiday drive came some holiday traffic, but most of the trip was done at highway speeds as our average clip of 56 mph shows.
The Tiguan's trip computer measured 27.6 mpg over the duration of that trip, while our calculations netted a slightly lower figure at 26.5 mpg. We average those figures together to get a final, official figure of 27.1 mpg.
That's an impressive number: It matches the Tiguan's estimated highway fuel economy even though some of the miles were spent in city driving and heavy traffic. Not all of those miles were particularly pleasant — if I had one complaint to level at the Tiguan, it would be that its powertrain takes its sweet time to get into the power band of the engine, so while it has plenty of power on tap, the vehicle can feel sluggish, especially from a stop. And my test vehicle didn't have any kind of adaptive cruise control or lane keep assist, two features that not only enhance safety but also help reduce driver fatigue.
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