2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line 4MOTION l Review

I reviewed my last Volkswagen Tiguan (German pronunciation: “fɔlksˌvaːgŋ̍ ˈtiːɡu̯aːn”) back in November of 2020 and came away with a resounding “I dig it”. Part of the second generation that launched in 2018, the Tiguan was the smallest SUV of the bunch at the time, coming in under the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. As of the 2022 model year, the smaller Taos has been added to the lineup, making the Tiguan a bit of a middle child. I liked it in the fall of 2020, but let’s find out how the Tiguan has aged since then. VW loaned me this SEL R-Line 4MOTION for a week and I had a lot to say about it. Lets get it on!

2022 Tiguan Overview

The Tiguan lineup is made up of four trim levels and ranges from just under $26,500 to a bit over $37,000 for the top spec SLE R-Line like our tester. It’s a pretty straightforward setup and even the base S is pretty well-equipped with stuff like heated front seats, LED headlights, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. All Tiguan models come with the same 2.0L turbo four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic. It is rated at 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, FWD is standard, AWD is optional depending on trim level.

Our top spec SEL R-Line is pretty loaded with standard AWD, leather sports seats, heated steering wheel, 20″ rims, and a whole lot more. It’s got a ton of other great features for a sub $40K crossover:

  • Hill descent control
  • Chrome exterior trim
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Power-folding side mirrors
  • Hands-free liftgate
  • Leather sport seats with driver’s seat memory
  • 10.25-inch digital instrument display
  • Navigation system
  • Premium Fender sound system
  • 360-degree surround-view camera
  • Automated parking system

2022 Tiguan SEL R-Line 4MOTION Inside & Out

The Tiguan is a good looking compact crossover that’s almost a midsize crossover. There is a long-wheelbase version available overseas, but the version we get is still gets classified as a compact, but just. Built on the Volkswagen Group MQB A2 platform that is shared with the Audi Q3 (and some Škoda and SEAT crossovers) it’s got a chiseled exterior that mercifully isn’t as over-styled as some of the competition. The split-spoke wheels are interesting, a nice departure from the typical black wheels that have been trendy over the past few years.

On the inside, it’s a little bit of a mixed bag. From a tech perspective, things were pretty solid. Apple CarPlay connected wirelessly the very first time I tried and stayed connected throughout my time in the Tiguan. The infotainment system has a very solid interface, I like that there are physical buttons to hop between the various sections. If you are in CarPlay and want to transition over to to the radio, there is a real button. You aren’t required to find the “home” button (be it virtual or real) and then go from there. Even the HVAC system has a physical “menu” button to launch you directly into additional settings that pop up on the screen. The eight inch screen isn’t quite as large as the competition, but we’re starting to get a little out of hand with regard to screen size. It’s enough. Unfortunately it doesn’t save your previous settings when you shut it off like the recent Audis I’ve driven have.

The Fender premium audio system booms, it’s way better than the system I built in my trunk in my teen years. The haptic feedback buttons grew on me. It’s something I really didn’t like in the ID.4 that I tested, but the Tiguan has a bunch of physical buttons as a backup whereas their new EV didn’t. Being able to just swipe a little bit up or a little down on the volume was fine, I think most buyers would get used to it. The biggest issue is that there is less tactile feel to know when you have your finger on the “button”. There are a couple of indentations above the haptic controls on the wheel that help you know where your fingers are sitting.

The Noisette Brown leather has personality compared to the typical gray or black interior, but I noticed some weird indentations and ripples forming in the leather (visible above in the gallery). Even after a short 15 minute drive they were there, so I’m curious about how it will wear over time.

Rear leg room is a relatively generous 36.6 inches, so 2nd row passengers should have a decent amount of room for longer trips.

Interesting tidbit, the center console lid does not latch. It just rests on the top of the console. Not really an issue unless the hinge starts to go and the lid begins to rattle over bumpy roads.

Out back there is a solid 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the 2nd row (3-row Tiguans get a small-ish 12.0 cu.ft.) and total cargo room is 73.4 cubes with the rear seat folded down. So, if you are looking for a compact SUV that’s not all that compact inside, the Tiguan is a great option.

Let’s see how it drives.

2022 Tiguan SEL R-Line 4MOTION On The Road

I took the Tiguan out on Skyline Drive, which is a fantastic driving road. It runs through Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. On the drive out there, which is primarily fairly straight highway driving, VW’s steering assist function works really well. Paired with the adaptive cruise control, it will keep you going in the right direction without a lot of intervention.

Unfortunately on that highway drive I discovered the hard plastic bit to the right of my knee. I tend to rest my right knee there, and it was very uncomfortable. For some reason, I also couldn’t really get the seats in the right position, despite the number of adjustments. The back just wouldn’t go any further down and, while the higher driving position was good for visibility, I felt like my head was too close to the roof.

The roads are incredibly twisty on Skyline Drive and thankfully someone at VW fitted a fantastic steering wheel to the Tiguan. It’s a nice size and shape, it feels like something you would find on a GTI. It even has little nubs on either side, so when you shuffle your hands around the wheel you can keep your grip a bit easier. It feels as if someone designed it who has actually done some real spirited driving. The 4MOTION AWD system kept us going the right direction and the brakes were also solid and didn’t fade after a lot of hard driving.

It’s not especially fast. While the 3,856 pound curb weight isn’t really that heavy (anymore) the 184 horsepower output is only four more hp than my 2001 Jetta 1.8T was putting out. Still, with a nimble suspension, I was the king of Skyline Drive in the Tiguan on that day my friends. Or perhaps other drivers were just sight-seeing. We decided to do the entire length of the twisty road down to the southern exit, so at some point I was hustling the Tiguan pretty rapidly. Sport mode is way too eager, like a lot of systems it just bumps the revs but doesn’t really improve the driving experience.

In daily commuting, the Tiguan was pretty solid, but there were a few annoyances. The “Eco Tips” were darn right intrusive. It was a gorgeous late summer evening and I decided to put the windows down and open the sunroof. I got the notice “Climate control on: close windows and sunroof”. OK, I switched off the HVAC system, good point Tiguan. Then…I got “Air resistance: close windows and sunroof”. OK, now that’s getting annoying, leave me alone! I can imagine the German engineer programming those alerts about the windows in the air conditioning thinking “it doesn’t make logical sense to have the windows open”. Every time I sped up I got another “tip” about closing them.

Also, and I know it’s a small thing, but not having the door unlock when you put your hand into the handle is a bit of a bummer, and makes the Tiguan feel a little dated compared to some of the more recently updated competitors. However, on one trip to pick up my youngest at school, I was behind a driver who fully stopped at the second set of flashing yellow lights in a row (rule is that we continue, the intersecting lanes stop on flashing red), I tried the horn and it is surprisingly loud for a compact SUV.

Summary

I’m not sure if the Tiguan is on a lot of people’s crossover shopping list. Volkswagen sells around 110,000 a year which is about 1/4 of the number of RAV4s that Toyota sells. The question should be, since it’s almost midsize, why not go midsize? It will depend on your limitations with regard to parking spaces or garage size. There are a ton of great options out there in the segment, but if you want a handsome crossover with a long list of standard features (even on the base trim), check out the Tiguan. The top spec SEL R-Line 4MOTION is a lot of SUV for under $40,000.

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