Tested: 2022 VW Tiguan Receives Small Changes, Still a Favorite

Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver

Volkswagen's Tiguan proves that the brand wants to build a compact SUV that's more than just practical. Like the very sensible and bestselling Toyota RAV4, a Tiguan will get you and all your stuff to a fun destination. What makes the Tiguan different is that the driving experience will make getting there more fun.

Changes to the Tiguan for 2022 include a handsome new face that features newly standard LED lighting elements, and sportier styling on R-Line models. The Tiguan's interior remains pretty much untouched.

Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver

Comfortable front seats sit high and provide an upright driving position. A new touch-sensitive climate-control panel and steering wheel ditch physical buttons, and a digital gauge display is now standard. Although the Tiguan's spacious interior is dotted with small changes and a third row remains available on front-wheel-drive models, the look and feel is still a bit bland. Haptic feedback (a small vibration felt upon touch) helps acclimate the driver to using the new touch-sensitive steering wheel controls in short order, but the controls on the climate control panel lack any feedback and getting them to reliably respond isn't easy.

Save for a few tuning adjustments that raise combined fuel economy by 1 mpg, the Tiguan's 184-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and eight-speed automatic all carry over. VW also left the chassis, suspension, steering, and optional all-wheel-drive system alone, which is fine by us as the Tiguan remains agile and confident; its steering is light and communicative with just a touch of straight-ahead numbness. Throttle response in Normal driving mode is lazy as the automatic gets into the highest gear possible to benefit fuel efficiency, but switching to Sport mode lets the transmission hold lower gears, yielding more, dare we say, responsive acceleration. Luckily, the system remembers your preference every time the ignition is switched on, eliminating the need to adjust the drive mode each time you slide behind the wheel.

Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver

At our test track, the 4005-pound Tiguan fell short of the last Tiguan we tested, running to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds and tripping the quarter-mile in 16.9 seconds at 83 mph. The last model we tested, a 2020 that placed second in a six-way comparison test of small SUVs, was 0.8 second quicker to 60 mph. A bit more power would be welcome as the Tiguan isn't just one of the slowest players in its class, it's one of the slowest vehicles on the market.

For inattentive or nervous drivers, a suite of driver-assistance features dubbed IQ.Drive is now available on all Tiguan models. The package is optional on the base S model ($895) but is standard on all other trims. Volkswagen would like you to think about this as a "democratization of technology," but in reality it's just the Tiguan playing catch-up with what's offered in the rest of the segment.

Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Andi Hendrick - Car and Driver

Added features are seen in the 2022 Tiguan's higher base price. The least expensive front-drive Tiguan goes from $26,440 to $27,190. However, the top-end SEL R-Line trim like the one reviewed here is a better value this year as its $37,790 price is $2500 less than its 2021 equivalent. That price aligns it more closely with the most expensive versions of the RAV4, the Honda CR-V, and the Mazda CX-5.

In refreshing the Tiguan, VW seems to have adhered to the Hippocratic oath and done no harm. We consider it a success that the updates to the Tiguan haven't hurt what we like about it.

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