Stick Shift: 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

Not much has changed with Volkswagens’ small SUV, the Tiguan, since a freshly powdered nose in 2012. Luckily, a new model is set to launch in 2017 introducing some big changes. In the mean time, the 2016 Tiguan S continues to impress as a well built, comfortable, spirited little SUV with lots of looks and many of the right moves. With a big makeover just around the corner, we see little new for the 2016 model year. A few standard features have been added to keep with the times, including heated front seats, push-button start, V-Tex vinyl upholstery and the latest touchscreen interface from VW. With these new additions, the list of useful standard equipment has grown, making the base model Tiguan S more appealing than ever.

From the outside, the Tiguan has a tight, muscular shape that’s sporty with its roof rack and alloy wheels, but also elegant. On the inside, it possess a uniquely German level of refinement. For a car with a suggested retail cost under 25K, the Tiguan S looks more premium than it actually is. The interior space is polished and neatly arranged. Black on black is the theme. Surfaces are textured or smooth to create visual and tactile variety. Seats are covered in soft leatherette and the steering wheel and shift knob are leather-wrapped. The front seats are positioned high, providing a commanding view of the road ahead without sacrificing headroom. They’re also supportive and surprisingly comfortable, heated and manually adjustable, offering lumbar support even.

Image via Volkswagen.

You’ll find the back seats are tight and cargo room is limited, even for a compact SUV. Thankfully, they’ll fold, slide and recline to improve legroom and increase trunk space for those Costco runs. A vivid composition color 5″ touchscreen display has slightly outdated graphics, but will still help you make vehicle and audio adjustments. USB, Bluetooth and axillary plugs help you stay charged and connected as well.

Under the hood is a lively 2.0L DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This eager turbo has little lag and delivers more acceleration and driving excitement than most other compact crossovers in this segment. A well tuned chassis with tight yet compliant four-wheel independent suspension make for a composed yet exciting drive. The new Tiguan S is responsive and undeniably rewarding to tour around town in. Wind and road noise are even minimal at highway speeds. If only it could manage a better combined mpg rating than 23.

The VW Tiguan has always stood contrary to most other compact crossover SUV’s on the market. This contrast is only more brightly highlighted in 2016, with less concern over utility, space and versatility and more focus on refinement, interior polish and driving performance. The Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape or Hyundai Tucson come closest to providing the same cocktail of driving fun and refinement, but offer more space, better fuel economy, a lower price tag and higher safety ratings. Everything considered, the 2016 model VW Tiguan S has a lot to offer, but it might be best to wait and see what they have in store for 2017.

Price as tested: $25,755.00 

By: Brandon Randall

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