Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan Is Good Enough If You Really Want a Safe Compact SUV

If you’re one of the many Americans shopping for a new SUV, you’re in excellent company, and you have a tremendous selection. Whether you’re looking for a three-row SUV, one with a powerful V8 engine, a model with excellent fuel economy, or the SUV with the most cargo space, there are a number of choices to fit every taste and budget. One that’s likely to pop up on your radar is the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan, a compact SUV that can be configured with either two or three rows — an exceedingly rare option in this segment.

While the Volkswagen Tiguan may not be quite as much of a standout in the “SUV Sea” as some of its competitors, it does have an impressive list of standard technology and safety features, an exceptionally comfortable cabin, and loads of cargo space. According to Consumer Reports, it also has phenomenal safety ratings, making it a solid choice for many.

Just call the Volkswagen Tiguan “Average Joe”

In the extremely crowded compact SUV segment, a vehicle has to offer something none of its competitors do in order to, well, be competitive. U.S. News ranked the 16 Best Compact SUVs for 2020 and unsurprisingly, the perennial award-winning Honda CR-V tops the list, followed by the borderline-luxury Mazda CX-5.

The Volkswagen Tiguan ranked right in the middle at No. 7, and it was specifically noted that “the Tiguan has a comfortable and well-equipped cabin, but its underwhelming engine and below-average fuel economy hold it back.”

While the Tiguan is available with either front- or all-wheel drive, there’s just one engine regardless of how it’s configured, and to be frank, it’s underwhelming. It’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 hp, which is adequate for in-town commutes but sluggish and underpowered for highway speeds and accelerating on an incline. 

As for fuel economy, front-wheel-drive Tiguans get 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive models drop to 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. When you consider the fact that the CR-V gets a substantially higher 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, it’s easy to understand the middle-of-the-road ranking. 

A gold star for safety

In spite of it being just average in many aspects, the Volkswagen Tiguan really shines when it comes to safety. The IIHS awarded the 2020 Tiguan a Top Safety Pick for the third consecutive year and scored very well in NHTSA crash tests as well. 

Volkswagen also made a number of advanced safety features newly standard for 2020, including a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert. 

With large-scale vehicle recalls becoming almost commonplace, an SUV that ranks near the top in terms of safety rankings and features is certainly an attractive option. 

Who the Volkswagen Tiguan is right for

RELATED: What Features Are Standard on the Volkswagen Tiguan?

It’s true that the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan faces some seriously stiff competition in the compact SUV segment, particularly the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. While both of those are excellent all-around vehicles, it’s important to note that neither of them comes with an available third row of seating. The Tiguan also has larger storage capacity and better predicted reliability ratings than the CX-5, as well as more standard features than the CR-V.

If you’re in the market for a compact SUV and safety is the top priority, the 2020 VW Tiguan is a solid choice. Still need more convincing? U.S. News named it a finalist for its 2020 Best Compact SUV for Families award, and Cars.com awarded the 2019 model “Best Compact SUV of 2019.”

For shoppers who love the Tiguan but are unsure about the underwhelming engine, there’s good news: the 2021 VW Tiguan is expected to get new powertrain options. If you fall into that category, it may be worth waiting a few months.