Monday, June 17, 2024

2023 VW Tiguan Review: A large, but just OK crossover

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Pros: Available third row; stronger engine than most rivals; big for a compact crossover
Cons: Below-average fuel economy and no hybrid option; uninspiring design, touch climate and steering wheel controls have a learning curve

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan is VW’s most popular model, and it’s easy to see why. Americans like big cars, and the Tiguan hits a sweep spot of being both big and agreeably priced at the same time. It’s inoffensive, but hardly daring, when it comes to styling. All of the necessary tech is either standard or optionally available, and there’s even an available third row (again, big). The Tiguan presses the right buttons for crossover shoppers here, and while we’d rather be cruising around in a GTI – utility be damned – there’s no denying the Tiguan is the right fit for a lot of lifestyles.

That said, the Tiguan still isn’t among our top-recommended small SUVs. The best in the segment are more spacious, more efficient and have higher-quality interiors – some are also more exciting to look at or drive. A Honda CR-V Hybrid, Mazda CX-50, Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and Kia Sportage Hybrid all beat the Tiguan in numerous ways. Unfortunately for the Tiguan, there are even other Volkswagen SUVs we’d buy before plunking down the money for this one. The Taos is a pleasant surprise of an SUV, and despite it being closer to a “mid-compact” crossover, it’s still shockingly huge and family-friendly in size (assuming you don’t need a third row). To look further outside the box, there’s the electric ID.4 that drives far better than a Tiguan and obviously drinks zero gasoline. Of course, you’d have to be OK making the leap to an EV and accept the extra initial purchase cost over a Tiguan.

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