Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan If...
If you’re looking to move out of your big SUV, but still need a vehicle that can haul a fair amount of cargo, comfortably hold four passengers and has plenty of power on hand, the new 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan makes for a painless transition.
You May Not Like The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan If...
If you’re looking for a compact SUV starting under $20,000, need a third-row seat or a warranty lasting longer than three years/36,000 miles, the Tiguan probably won’t make your top-ten list.
Volkswagen continues to add new models in an attempt to increase its U.S. market share. Already a smash hit in Europe, the Tiguan offers the rare combination of good fuel economy and a high-output engine. With the Tiguan, VW hopes to lure enthusiast drivers away from less sporty small SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V and the Saturn VUE.
Like most VW products, the Tiguan’s interior is awash in high quality materials and thoughtful placed controls. Although the base S model’s interior seems a bit drab, up-level SE and SEL trims, with their contrasting materials and optional leather seating, are quite appealing. Though not as generous with cargo space as the Jetta SportWagen, the Tiguan has rear seats that slide forward a full six inches to help increase storage when necessary. An optional panoramic glass roof opens the entire cabin to sunlight and features a power sunshade for when the UV rays become too strong.
From a distance, the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan might be mistaken for the larger Touareg, but move closer and the vehicle’s unique identity quickly becomes evident. The distinctive fascia imparts a sporty image, as do the racy 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels found on the SE and SEL trims. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes and an Electronic Stability Program, and nearly seven inches of ground clearance permit the Tiguan to traverse deep snow and off-road obstacles with ease.
With a sub-eight-second zero-to-60-mph acceleration capability, the Tiguan, with its 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, certainly moves like a GTI, but the little SUV’s tall ride height and softer suspension don’t inspire the same thrilling cornering maneuvers. We found the six-speed manual somewhat lacking, with long throws and too much play between gears. The automatic actually works better in this vehicle and is the only transmission available with the SE and SEL, as well as with the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. On the highway, the Tiguan’s well-insulated cabin minimizes outside noise, even with the enormous panoramic glass sunroof installed. The Tiguan’s ride is fine so long as the pavement below remains smooth, and the steering response, braking and overall drivability are above average for this class.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the front-wheel-drive 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan S starts just under $24,000, while the SE trim starts closer to $28,000 and the SEL at around $31,500. 4Motion adds about $2,000 to the bottom line. By comparison, Honda’s CR-V EX with all-wheel drive starts just under $25,000. Other competitors in this price range include the Saturn VUE, Mazda CX-7 and Toyota RAV 4. As the Tiguan is a new vehicle, we expect it to hold a better-than-average resale value, similar to the Volkswagen Jetta and Passat.
The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan features a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, six-speed manual transmission, traction and stability control, electronic differential lock, six-airbags (front, front-side and front and rear side-curtain), power heated side mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM stereo with single CD player, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and an electronic parking brake.
Options vary by trim and include 4Motion all-wheel drive (SE and SEL), six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels (S), panoramic glass sunroof, leather seating, heated front seats, 300-watt Dynaudio stereo, in-dash CD changer, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, 12-way power-adjustable front seats and rear side thorax airbags.
Touch Screen Navigation with Rear CameraVW’s latest navigation system features a 3D viewing angle, intuitive controls and a 30-gigabyte hard drive for storing map data and audio files.Panoramic Glass SunroofOptional on the SE and SEL, the massive panoramic glass sunroof covers nearly 13 square feet, bathing occupants in light and fresh air. A power sunshade shields occupants when tanning time ends.
Under the Hood
Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection is arguably one of the best four-cylinder engines on the market. It’s smooth, quiet and always a willing supplier of horsepower and torque. Pumping out 200 horsepower, the 2.0-liter still manages highway fuel economy in the mid-20 mpg range, even when saddled with the extra weight of the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. 2.0-liter in-line 4 turbocharged200 horsepower @ 5100 rpm206 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1700-5000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (manual), 18/24 (automatic), 18/24 (4Motion)
Volkswagen calls its new Tiguan the GTI of compact SUVs; a bold statement considering the hot hatchback’s legendary handling capabilities, but not completely without merit. Although the Tiguan shares most of its chassis and suspension with the Passat, it is powered by the GTI’s 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Compared to the competition, the Tiguan has a lot going for it, including a substantial number of standard safety and comfort features, terrific performance and great styling. Starting out around $24,000 for the base model and topping out well past the $30,000 mark for a loaded SEL, steep pricing may unfortunately turn out to be the Tiguan’s Achilles’ heel.