Login     

2018, Jan - Feb

ONCE A PRINCE, NOW A KING? 

By Cliff Leppke

2018 Tiguan: Once a prince, now a king? 

By Cliff Leppke

Upsized VW isn't born to thrill, but it'll make a family feel like it's siting on a throne.

In VW parlance, its bigger-is-better 2018 Tiguan CUV is the king of the concrete jungle. This king will ferry a royal flush: queen, princes, princesses and a dog or cat. In addition, there’s room for accoutrements associated with a trek to Kensington Palace.  

As such, it’s family friendly. I’m calling it a crossover rather than a utility vehicle because its unit-body employs the seventh-generation Golf’s toolkit. 

Because the Tiggy is equipped with the GTI’s leather-clad flat-bottom steering wheel, a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and toast-your-buns bolstered front seats, you’d expect this VW to emphasize its hot-hatch heritage. Sorry, folks, this VW isn’t born to thrill. It’s good for family service; it’s not a lift-kit Golf R. 

Instead, VW aimed this handsome Craftsman chisel-like machine with faux dual exhaust ports directly at the hot-selling Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. Other competitors include the Ford Escape and Honda CRV. It ups the ante by inflating the Tiguan to almost midsize capacity (like the ape in the TV spots); the mid-row legroom is generous and the cargo hold without third-row seat flexible. Thoughtful people amenities abound, too. 

Let’s drive. The Tiggy doesn’t set new standards for crossover handling. The electric power steering is nicely weighted and centers well, but the 215/65R17 Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling resistance tires inflated to 41 psi do not bite. Thus, it’s a tad sloppy. And when pushed, the tires sing a high-pitched whine, as it gently drifts wider than planned at the wheel. There were times when I thought either the differential lock or AWD setup varied which wheels got torque altering handling precision. I miss the last-gen Tiguan’s zesty attitude. Others might prefer its people toting prowess.

Heavy metal? The turbocharged mill behaves like an angry Oliver-tractor at a state-fair towing contest; it’s snorty when provoked. It’s also asthmatic wheezy. This 184-hp, 221 lb.-ft. of torque “B” cycle 2.0-liter engine, which uses valve timing tricks and the turbocharger to decrease fuel consumption, mates to an eight-speed automatic that keeps engine rpm at 70 mph low — 1,800. 

This plus the vehicle’s 4,086-pound heft conspire to make 50-70 mph acceleration a leisure-time pursuit. My first impression: it’s like driving a 1200cc Bug, step on the urgent pedal at 60 mph to merge onto a highway or scoot into another lane and you wait. It’s as if you forgot to pay the bus driver before entering. Later, I noticed an E on the info/trip computer screen. I thought it a compass direction—except I was headed west. E means Eco—a fuel-sipping mode that blunts throttle response. 

There’s an eco cure. Instead of an inhaler, find the center console drive-mode dial near the shift lever. Its outer ring selects all-wheel-drive programming and transmission mapping for snow (very smooth) or driving off road, plus hill assist and descent (less than 18 mpg, not tested). The dial’s center has a round button. Push it to cycle through on-road modes: normal, sport and eco. Sport increases steering effort and alters front differential lock behavior. Don’t care to meddle with pushbutton algorithms? Slap the shift lever rearward from drive—that requests sport. 

This trick nets quicker shifting and better engine response. Tap the lever rearward again and you’re in drive or eco if you pushed the slowpoke button. Zero to 60 mph takes about 10 seconds, that’s lazy these days. In the Tiguan’s defense, it’s surprisingly stingy with regular gas. I observed 26 mpg. The EPA says: 21 city, 27 highway, 23 mpg combo. That’s good for an AWD SUV. An engine start/stop system reduces emissions too. 

On the highway, the engine is quiet. It maintains a steady speed but must downshift to climb expressway overpasses. Ride quality is compliant. However, potholes and sewer covers induce sudden Hulk Hogan body slams. Mild off-road jaunts also induce sudden thumps. The Subaru Crosstrek, a smaller CUV, is much better. And road patter can provoke resonances within the stout body structure. Overall, all the king’s kin will rate it comfortable. 

VW’s instrumentation deserves kudos for effective contrast night and day. At night, how about overhead halo rather than mood ring? LED lighting along the panoramic sunroof’s sides imparts an ethereal heavenly glow when nature hides the moon and stars. If you don’t like this or wish to tweak the instrument illumination, you’ll discover the age-old rheostat is gone. Instead, you must head toward the infotainment screen menu and tell the onboard computer to douse the house lights. For safety reasons, you cannot do this while driving. I’m not making this up! It’s time to reset this microprocessor madness and give us a knob. 

New for 2018 is VW’s eight-inch infotainment screen. It’s showroom engineering. You’ll like its quick response and intuitive graphics. A sleek glass-like touchscreen high on the middle dashboard has just two knobs: volume and tuning. Otherwise, your interface is finger-sensing touch points astride the main display. This makes walking through various functions difficult to accomplish by feel. And the tuning knob only changes channels after you’ve tapped the radio icon. 

Voice commands will change channels and perform other functions such as making phone calls. I encountered awkward moments when requesting satellite radio stations by number. Say 66 and it fetched “60s on 6” rather than number 66. Going with the flow, I discovered saying the channel’s name, such as Watercolors, worked splendidly.

In front, you’ll have access to two USB ports and one 12-volt socket. In addition, the mid-row faces one USB (power only) and one 12-volt socket. Because many new cars don’t come with factory navigation — and this Tiguan didn’t — VW offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which allows users to pair their phones and access maps and navigation. The car’s display apes your phone’s — something most folks want. 

Occupants, as do honey bees, encounter a playful hexagonal interior design theme — as if borrowed from a Lamborghini. VW’s interior trim and carpeting cover most naughty bits. Those in the front row get soft-touch door panels; those in back don’t. The 40/20/40 rear seat slides and reclines. Each piece will fold flat (without removing the removable headrests), and you can release them at the seat or via stowage area levers. The slab-like rear seat could supply more thigh support, but the toe space under the front seats is generous.

The cargo hold has several cubbies and under-floor stowage with a spare tire. Without the optional third-row seat (AWD version), the rear floor is height adjustable. And there’s room for the shade-like cargo cover below the floor. A 12-volt socket is present too.

VW asks $32,625 for the AWD SE Tiguan with rearview camera, forward collision warning with braking and pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot monitor with rear traffic alert and pushbutton start. Other options include the Habanero Orange Metallic coat and the big glass roof. A six year/72,000 miles limited warranty improves the deal. 

Prince William and Kate Middleton need not hock the family jewels to drive this affordable land rover. 

Cliff Leppke | leppke.cliff@gmail.com 

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

  • MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS:  Members-at-large will find it easier to re-up.
  • AUDI A5: In a diminished field, this all-wheel-drive coupe is more than just a low-rider.
  • TDI FAREWELL:  Volkswagen’s diesel buyback provides a unique opportunity.

PLUS OUR REGULAR COLUMNS AND FEATURES:

  • Driver's Seat - VW news & views by Cliff Leppke
  • Frontdriver – Richard G. Van Treuren
  • Small Talk - VW and Audi news - quickly
  • Retro Autoist - From the archives
  • Parting Shot - Photo feature
  • Local Volks Scene - A snapshot of local chapter activities
  • VW Toon-ups - Cartoon feature by Tom Janiszewski

LOGGED-IN MEMBERS CAN SEE THE ENTIRE AUTOIST ISSUE BY CLICKING ON THE COVER PHOTO ABOVE.

 

 

Autoist Archive

Sep-Oct | 2018
2019 Jetta: New, Larger Economy Size

Some things come in small packages, and the seventh generation of VW's populer Jetta sedan delivers.

 

Jul-Aug | 2018
What's in your garage?

Amid the chaos, a home to vehicular gems and memories.

 

May-Jun | 2018
GTI AUTOBAHN: VW's latest version is a shopping cart full of enjoyment

Pack 220-hp and 258 ft.-lb of turbo kick under this hot hatch's hood and you've got a grocery-getter with options.

 

Mar-May | 2018
ARTEON: VW introduces its stylish replacement for the CC model.

Volkswagen’s attention to detail is notable in its new Arteon sedan, which made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show.

 

Jan-Feb | 2018
ONCE A PRINCE, NOW A KING?

Volkswagen has upped the ante by inflating the 2018 Tiguan to almost mid-size capacity. Is it fit for a king?

 

Nov-Dec | 2017
FLAMING GOOD TIME

Hundreds of VWs of every stripe gathered at Foster Park in Kokomo, Ind. for the annual Oktoberfest.

 

Sep-Oct | 2017
62nd VWCA Convention Wrap-up

Members gathered at the throw-back Cascade Drive-in Theater for "Cars 3," part of the VWCA Convention

 

Jul-Aug | 2017
Back To The Future Car

Cliff Leppke's 1983 Scirocco has notched its share of more than 333,000 miles in trips to Road America in Wisconsin. The latest covered about 3,000 miles during a whirlwind vacation excursion.

 

May-Jun | 2017
Swingin' time is in store for members, guests at 62nd annual Club gathering

Augustino's will get members rocking while the NIVA Club will roll out another lineup of VWs at its annual BugFest, part of the VWCA Convention in St. Charles, Ill.

 

Mar-Apr | 2017
Will VW See The Light?

VW once again evokes the memory of the beloved Microbus with its new concept called I.D. Buzz, which created quite a stir at the annual auto show in Detroit. (Photos by Tom Janiszewski)

 

Jan-Feb | 2017
Costly Mistake?

Joe Mayer says he's not out to punish VW over its diesel scandal - he just wanted to make some extra money on a car he thought would be junked. (Photos by Joe Mayer via jalopnik.com.)

 

Nov-Dec | 2016
WATTS OF FUN . . . . . . Meet the new e-Golf

Here's the car that, when you give it a charge, you'll get one back. In VW's first important pivot from its diesel scandal, the e-Golf provides an opening salvo in the carmaker's goal to electrify its fleet.

 

Sep-Oct | 2016
61st Annual Convention

What's an anniversary without a cake? This one didn't go far or last long as Club members enjoyed a variety of activities, including a Sunday car show and picnic, part of the 61st Annual Convention.

 

Jul-Aug | 2016
It's Time To Show Off

A couple of Karmann Ghias are resplendent at the Michigan Vintage VW Club's Festival in Ypsilanti, Mich.  The club held its 29th event in May, while Mid America Motorworks in Effingham, Ill., saluted the air-cooled crowd with a big show in June.

 

May-Jun | 2016
Windfall for TDI owners?

The scam was on as early as 2008, when this Candy White Jetta TDI Clean Diesel model, embellished with green plant matter, was rolled out.  In case anyone had a doubt, VW added the wording "Not a concept car."

 

Mar-Apr | 2016
Lost In Translation

VW CEO Mattias Mueller was in the hot glare of media lights at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, providing the company's latest response to the diesel emissions scandal.

 

Jan-Feb | 2016
VW's Game Plan

VW remains embroiled in a high-stakes game involving government agencies  and hundreds of thousands of owners of diesel models. The company's car on the road of Life has taken a big detour.

 

Nov-Dec | 2015
Engine with a split personality puts VW on the hot seat

The news in September was beyond belief for many VW and TDI enthusiasts: Volkswagen executives admitted that the company intentionally produced cars that violated clean-air laws.

 

Sep-Oct | 2015
Big bites of fun at the 60th VWCA Convention

Doug Narczewshi from Spring Valley, IL, looks over an assortment of water-cooled VWs on display at NIVA's Bug Fest event, part of the 60th VWCA Convention in suburban Chicago.

 

Jul-Aug | 2015
1969 Beetle gets a second chance to adorn the silver screen

Crew members working on the film "The Good Blonde" prepare for a shot on the California coast involving a 1969 Beetle owned by VWCA member and correspondent Lois Grace.

 

May-Jun | 2015
My Mom, the Daredevil

Around 1960, Cliff Leppke had no idea what was in store for him while being ferried about by his mother. Needless to say, his head was up and his eyes were open.

 

Mar-Apr | 2015
It's Show Time!

The Northeast Illinois Volkswagen Association has an activity-packed weekend planned for the 60th VWCA Convention in suburban Chicago.

 

Jan-Feb | 2015
Diesel Memories

Jack Pavie of suburban Philadelphia had to wait several months to get his 1975 Rabbit diesel, one of three models he enjoyed in the '70s and '80s.

 

Nov-Dec | 2014
Golf Lessons: Three new models charge up hatchback lineup

The scene at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va., where Cliff Leppke and other media members ran the 2015 Volkswagens through their paces.

 

Sep-Oct | 2014
Having fun with miles per gallon

A morning commute for a 2012 Golf TDI has become a test on how high the fuel mileage will end up. It hit a high mark in July.

 

Jul-Aug | 2014
2014 VWCA Convention: Wagons, wagens and more - where the buffalo roam

In the VWCA's 59 years of Conventions, the setting in Hudson, Mich. was unique. Just ask VWCA's Tom Janiszewski, the guy driving the orange 1974 Camper.

 

May-Jun | 2014
New Beetle milestone: Though this 1999 model has shown it's flaws over 15 years and 90,000 miles, it's been a blast to drive

May 25 marks the 15th anniversary of my family's New Beetle ownership experience. It was on that day in 1999 that we took delivery of a brand new red GLS model from Kempthorn Volkswagen in Canton, Ohio.

 

Mar-Apr | 2014
Dune buggy with a twist at the Detroit Auto Show

There's a saying that everything old is new again, and since the New Beetle's production debut in 1998, that has been the car's underlying theme.

 

Jan-Feb | 2014
Back At The Ranch

At northern California getaway, Vernon and his family found plenty of ways to enjoy life