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We’re spending a week with the Volkswagen Tiguan, and we’ve discovered that it’s an underdog. It has plenty of benefits and unique advantages to consider against midsize rivals like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-5. Check out what you’re missing by ignoring the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan can go off-roading 

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

During our week with the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan, we decided to take it off the pavement to explore the woods because we found an Off-Road driving mode. It tightens the suspension and enhances the brae response to provide more control. 

It feels pretty lightweight and comfortable in areas of mud, dirt, sand, and gravel. Larger impacts are quick dampens to keep jitters out of the cabin. Larger impacts are quickly shrugged off, but we would recommend sticking to beginner’s trails. 

The VW Tiguan won’t be hanging out with Jeep Wranglers, but it can get you to the campsite. It has a 7.4-inch ground clearance, so that’s below average. But the AWD system optimizes torque and automatically engages Hill Descent Control as needed. 

This SUV is extremely resistant to slipping, with plenty of torque for climbing out of mud and ruts. The Off-Road Custom mode allows you to adventure with your favorite settings, and it has a Snow mode.  

The 2023 VW Tiguan is athletic 

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line is sporty and engaging. It’s fun to whip around town for errands, on road trips, and while off-roading. We’re surprised that the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine only cranks out 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque

It feels like it has more power has it instantly gets off the line with smooth transmission shifts. It can accelerate from 0 to 80 mph in about 8.9 seconds, which is average for the class. However, it doesn’t seem that slow and has plenty of power for merging into traffic and passing others. 

The only time it struggled was while accelerating up steep mountain curves. We wanted more power to increase from about 60 mph to about 70 mph, and there was a slight delay in getting up to speed. 

However, it was much more capable on the same roads where the Toyota RAV4 struggled. Plus, it corners better and exhibits less body roll around sharp curves. It felt sportier than the Mazda CX-50 too. 

We’re surprised that it doesn’t have steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters because the athletic performance is just waiting to be tapped. While the steering is loose at lower speeds, Sport Mode on the highway is responsive and addicting. 

The VW Tiguan is comfortable 

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan interior dash
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan interior | Volkswagern

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line has well-padded, supportive leather sports seats. They have the perfect amount of bolstering to hold you during bumpy adventures or while racing around curves. 

Plus, the four-wheel independent suspension provides a smooth performance over the pavement. It glides over rough sections of broken asphalt while providing plenty of grip. Our biggest issue currently involves the wind and road noise at higher speeds. 

But the automatic climate control system is intelligent and consistent for keeping you at the perfect temperature, the ventilated seats are crisp and cool, and the 360-degree camera display provides tons of visibility. 

Driving the VW Tiguan can be relaxing, convenient, exciting, and athletic based on your personal mood. Take a relaxing ride in Eco Mode, balance things in Normal Mode, or take off in Sport Mode

You can also customize your own driving modes to pair the faster braking response of Sport Mode with the tamer acceleration of Normal Mode.  

We still have more to learn about the Volkswagen Tiguan, but it’s more comfortable, adventurous, and engaging than expected so far. Stay tuned for our full review.