Volkswagen Tiguan Gives America What It Wants in an SUV

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan will address the compact SUV’s shortcomings | Volkswagen

If you like size and solid fuel economy in an SUV, then the current Volkswagen Tiguan is not for you. While there are other factors in play, those two shortcomings begin to explain the gulf (see what we did there?) between VW’s compact SUV and Honda CR-V, America’s preferred utility vehicle. At the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen unveiled the 2018 Tiguan with at least the size problem fixed. Consumers may appreciate the style updates, too, but this reveal was about size.

More than 10 inches of length separate the 2017 Tiguan from the ’18 model, Volkswagen said in a release. The long-wheelbase edition will nearly equal the specs of the CR-V. Meanwhile, the updated Tiguan got 57% more cargo space and the capacity to seat seven people. Company executives were clear about their intentions here: They want to be players in the world capital of SUVs. Along with Tiguan, VW also brought Atlas and a cute new hashtag (#SUVW) to show its seriousness.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
Between Atlas and Tiguan, Volkswagen says it will be the year of #SUVW | Volkswagen

“The new Tiguan demonstrates how we plan to give American customers the usability and versatility they demand,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen North America. Woebcken emphasized Tiguan was making the upgrades “without sacrificing style or Volkswagen’s trademark driving dynamics.” He said it was specifically engineered for the cargo and seating capacities U.S. consumers prefer. (It stretches past European models by 4.4 inches.)

Sure, it’s still called Tiguan — only slightly better than Touareg — but you can’t have everything. Driver assistance tech improvements also target consumers in the U.S. market.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
Tiguan drivers get new safety tech in the 2018 model | Volkswagen

A standard rearview camera joins optional adaptive cruise control (ACC), front assist, and lane assist in the safety suite. Drivers who add on these options will feel good about getting on the road in a new Tiguan. Volkswagen upgraded the fabric on seats and simplified the control panel, too. Of course, you can connect smartphone apps via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Most importantly, both driver and passenger have more space to enjoy these things inside the SUV. Performance remains strong. It features a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, which provides a peak 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen did not mention fuel economy, so there may be more bad news in that department. Cars rarely get more economical as they get bigger, after all.

2018 VW Tiguan
Fuel economy and price remain the missing ingredients for the 2018 Tiguan | Volkswagen

As it stands, Honda CR-V peaked at 30 MPG in two-wheel drive editions and 30 MPG for four-wheel drive. Tiguan’s best mark has been 22 MPG. Granted, fuel economy moved down the list of priorities for U.S. consumers in recent years, but the uptick in gas prices might change things soon. Reveals provide an opportunity for an automaker to boast improvements in all facets of the vehicle, so this omission seems telling.

Tackling CR-V, Nissan Rogue, or Toyota Rav4 is a tall order, anyhow. Given the market’s unquenchable thirst for SUVs, Volkswagen does not have to outdo the segment’s best. It only has to compete. With a lot more space, pleasant exterior styling, and sufficient bells and whistles, Tiguan should do the job. Besides, there is no diesel model. VW definitely nailed that on the head.