Everything the Cheapest 3-Row SUV of 2023 Gets Wrong and Right
The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan is the cheapest three-row SUV. With high safety scores and seating for seven, this affordable crossover is good for growing families. However, despite getting many things right, the Tiguan also gets a few things wrong. Here are the pros and cons of the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan that consumers should consider before deciding if this vehicle is right for them.
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan: Price, specs, trim levels, and features
The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan, one of the cheapest three-row SUVs on the new-car market, has a starting MSRP of only $28,505. This value-packed underdog was named the Best Compact SUV of 2023 by J.D. Power due to its athletic performance, smooth handling, and spacious interior. This small crossover offers rare third-row seating, with the Mitsubishi Outlander the only other vehicle in its class with this feature.
Now in its second generation and approaching an expected refresh next year, the 2023 Tiguan offers four trim levels: S, SE, SE R-Line Black, and SEL R-Line. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the only available engine option. VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system and four-wheel drive are available for all trims except the SEL R-Line, which has only 4MOTION AWD.
The engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, generates 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes 8.1 seconds. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 to 23 mpg in the city and 28 to 30 mpg on the highway, depending on the drivetrain.
With several customizable driving modes, the Tiguan delivers smooth handling with fast response times in Sport Mode. Coupled with the four-wheel independent suspension system, the Off-Road Mode provides enough control for impressive off-pavement chops.
What the 2023 Tiguan gets wrong
- Sluggish acceleration
- Low towing capacity
- Frustrating infotainment controls
- Cramped third row
- Limited cargo capacity
Despite its appealing price tag, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan has a few problems. For instance, acceleration can be slow, providing an underwhelming driving experience.
In addition, the towing capacity is a low 1,500 pounds, considering the Tiguan’s Toyota rival, the RAV4, can pull 3,500 pounds.
Furthermore, the touchscreen infotainment controls can be sensitive, with unnecessarily complicated commands and menus.
And though seating for seven is a welcome perk in this vehicle class, the third row is cramped. The rearmost seats provide only 27.9 inches of legroom and 33.8 inches of headroom, leaving them best suited for small children.
Those seats also cut into the cargo-carrying capacity, leaving only 12 cubic feet of space behind the third row, barely enough room for groceries. With both the second and third-row seats folded, the Tiguan provides 65.3 cubic feet. However, models without third-row seating provide a maximum of 73.4 cubic feet.
What the cheapest 3-row SUV of 2023 gets right
- Plenty of value at a low price
- Seating for seven
- Upscale interior with stylish European design
- Excellent safety scores
- Zero safety recalls
One of the safest SUVs in its class, this budget-friendly three-row SUV earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for its exceptional crash test ratings. The 2023 Tiguan also has zero recalls so far. Advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, and a forward collision warning system.
The interior boasts upscale European design, a well-thought-out layout, and luxurious touches such as ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof. The user-friendly 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, 360-degree camera system, and parking assist features provide a comfortable and convenient experience.
With superior safety ratings, an upscale interior, and advanced technology, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan is better than its low price suggests. This stylish SUV is a family-friendly gem.