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We drive the Volkswagen Tiguan SE

by Ali Arsham
Monday, May 13, 2019


Volkswagen Tiguan SE
Volkswagen Tiguan SE
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a vehicle that is perfectly sized for most families. It is big enough to handle most of your chores yet not too big to be able to handle the big cities. It is also affordable and economical so what is not to love? Not much as we found out.

The Tiguan, redesigned for 2018, marks an evolution in Volkswagen’s clean and timeless design DNA.

The Volkswagen MQB platform, shared with Golf, Jetta, and Passat, allows for a wider, lower stance than the previous model; the combination of this with sharper character lines and LED lighting gives Tiguan a more aggressive look than ever before.

The versatility of Tiguan’s seating is what sets it apart from the competition. Our front-wheel-drive Tiguan model, three rows of seating are standard, including a second-row bench that can recline, slide seven inches fore and aft, fold down, and be split 40/20/40.

The 50/50 split third-row provides seating for two, and also folds down. In three-row models, folding the rear seats creates 33 cubic feet of rear cargo space, and that can be easily expanded to a maximum of 65.7 cubic feet by folding the second row, using the levers in the cargo area. With all three rows in place, there is still a handy 12 cubic feet of cargo space.

The third row makes the Tiguan a very versatile vehicle. Admittedly, the third row only offers 28 inches of legroom which is really suitable for children. But if you have a family of four or five it is very convenient to have the third row for the few times that you may want to take another child to soccer practice. Most of those type of trips are short distance trips around town anyway so it can come in very handy.

Inside there are lots of nice features including an available panoramic glass tilt-and-slide sunroof. This aerodynamically and acoustically optimized panoramic roof is comprised of an opening glass panel at the front and a fixed glass panel at the rear. It features pinch protection and an electrically-operated one-touch sunshade that covers the inside of the entire glass area.


Interior is adequate, nothing too fancy
Interior is adequate, nothing too fancy
The interior features modern, high-quality design with a sporty, driver-focused layout, using gloss-grey and chrome details. Standard features now include a multi-function steering wheel and cloth seats with a rhombus pattern that offers a premium look.

Our SE model featured heated leatherette seating surfaces along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard on the Tiguan SE as well as keyless access with push-button start.


The Tiguan is powered by an advanced version of Volkswagen’s EA888 four-cylinder engine. The updated version of the four-cylinder, turbocharged, and direct-injection engine uses an innovative modification to the conventional four-stroke cycle to offer an improved combination of power, efficiency, and responsiveness. It incorporates the so-called Budack cycle for improved combustion efficiency.

The upshot is 184 horsepower that kicks in at 4,400 rpm and is maintained until 6,000 rpm. Maximum torque of 221 lb-ft is achieved at 1,600 to 4,300 rpm. All Tiguans are equipped with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for front-wheel drive models is 22 mpg in city driving, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. Models with all-wheel drive are rated at 21 mpg in city driving, 29 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving.

Trim Levels

Top of the line
There are no fewer than six trim levels on the Tiguan starting out with the S, SE, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line.

Front-wheel drive is standard on S, SE, SEL, and SEL R-Line, with AWD available.

SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line models are equipped with standard AWD.

Our fairly low end SE model was very well equipped which got us thinking why does one need to spend more money on the higher trim levels. The higher line models come with bigger wheels, LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, power liftgate, alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, leather interior, and similar features.

The SE’s leatherette interior is actually far superior in durability to actual leather and most of the features of the higher lines are unnecessary in our eyes. So, save yourself a ton of money and stick with the SE, we think you will be happy.

The base S starts out at $24,295 while our SE goes for $26,695. You can go crazy and spend as much as $38,895 for the SEL Premium R-Line AWD but unless there is something that you absolutely have to have, the SE is our favorite trim level.

Either way, you will get an excellent vehicle that is sized right for daily life that drives like a much more expensive vehicle.


Front head room 40 "
Rear head room 39 "
Front shoulder room 57 "
Rear shoulder room 56 "
Front leg room 40.2 "
Rear leg room 38.7 "
Luggage capacity 37.6 Cu.Ft.
Maximum cargo capacity 73.5 Cu.Ft.
Standard seating 5
Length 185.1 "
Body width 72.4 "
Body height 66.3 "
Wheelbase 109.8 "
Ground clearance 7.9 "
Curb 3,858 Lbs.
Gross weight 5,093 Lbs.
Fuel tank capacity 15.9 Gal.
EPA mileage estimates 21 City / 29 Hwy
Base engine size 2.0 Liters
Base engine type I-4
Horsepower 184 Hp
Horsepower rpm 4,400
Torque 221 Lb-Ft.
Torque rpm 1,600
Payload 970 Lbs.
Maximum towing capacity 1,500 Lbs.
Drive type All-Wheel Drive
Turning radius 18.8 ''

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