July 28, 2018

Volkswagen rolled out the completely redesigned Tiguan compact crossover for 2018 with one big surprise: the availability of a third-row seat and a capacity of seven passengers.

To accommodate the extra seat, the second generation of the Tiguan has 10.7 inches more length, most of it in the rear, which also gives it more cargo space. It’s now 185.1 inches long, with a wheelbase of 109.9 inches.

Prices for model year 2018.5 have been slightly reduced from what they were at the start of the 2018 model year. They start at $24,595 (plus $900 freight) for the base S front-wheel-drive mode, or $25,895 for the S all-wheel-drive, featuring VW’s 4Motion. The 4Motion system is available at all trim levels for an additional $1,300.

The higher trim levels are the SE ($26,750 for front drive or $28,050 with 4Motion; SEL ($31,090, front drive; $32,390, 4Motion); and SEL Premium ($36,250, front-drive; $37,550, 4Motion).

An R-Line performance package, offering a sportier exterior and some interior upgrades, is available on the SEL for $1,795 (also includes front and rear ParkPilot) and SEL Premium for $1,495.

The seating is flexible, with a sliding second-row seat and a two-passenger third-row seat, which is standard on front-drive models and available on all-wheel-drive versions for $500.

Under the hood of all Tiguan grades is a 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI direct-injection four-cylinder gasoline engine, producing 184 horsepower and 221 foot-pounds of torque, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

EPA fuel-economy ratings are 22 mpg city/27 highway/24 combined for front-drive models, and 21/27/23 for all-wheel drive.

The VW 4Motion with Active Control has four selectable driving modes designed for varied road and trail situations.

Available driver-assistance technologies include Front Assist with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Assist

Among standard or optional features are a panoramic power tilt and slide sunroof and remote power tailgate, both of which were included on my front-wheel-drive SEL test vehicle.

The sunroof is included on SEL and SEL Premium models, but costs $1,200 on the SE trim level in a package that also includes the ambient interior lighting that is standard on SEL and SEL Premium. Tiguan also offers active and passive safety systems such as Automatic Post-Collision Braking.

Standard on S models are 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights; LED taillights; rearview camera; heated side mirrors; black roof rails; and trailer-hitch preparation (with a 1,500-pound tow limit).

Cloth seating with an upscale Rhombus pattern is standard on the S, as well, along with a 40/20/40 split second row seat that slides and reclines, and can fold completely flat, using either the levers on the seatbacks or a quick-fold mechanism in the cargo area.

Among other standard interior features are a 6.5-inch composition color touch-screen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity; one USB port; six speakers; and Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect for compatible devices, enabling integration with the three major smartphone platforms: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

The SE model has most of the S features, along with an upgraded 8-inch Composition Media infotainment system with satellite radio, voice control and two additional USB ports; VW Car-Net Security & Service; keyless access with pushbutton start; automatic dual-zone climate control; rearview camera with dynamic guidelines; multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel; leather gear shift knob; leatherette seating surfaces; Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist), and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert.

Among the extras included on my SEL tester were additional advanced driver-assistance technologies, along with 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, an 8-inch Discover Media infotainment system with navigation; remote start; silver roof rails; and Adaptive Cruise Control, which has been upgraded for use in stop-and-go traffic.

We also had V-Tex leatherette seats, 10-way power driver’s seat and six-way manual front passenger seat; Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control with second-row air vents; and a leather-wrapped, three-spoke multi-function steering wheel.

The top-end SEL Premium comes with a leather interior, along with 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, LED headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System; LED daytime running lights; rain-sensing wipers; power-folding door mirrors with puddle lights; hands-free Easy Open and Easy Close power liftgate; ambient lighting; heated steering wheel; and a cargo cover.

Driver-assistance features on the SEL Premium include Lane Departure Warning with Lane Assist, automatic high-beam control, front and rear Park Distance Control (ParkPilot), and the Overhead View Camera system.

SEL Premium models also come with a Fender premium audio system and a 12.3-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display, which is driver-configurable.

Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist) and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert are available on the base S model for an additional $850.

The Tiguan and its larger sibling, the all-new Atlas midsize crossover, also come with the best transferable manufacturer’s bumper-to-bumper warranty offered on any SUVs in the U.S., Volkswagen says. It’s a six-year/72,000-mile (whichever comes first) new-car warranty — not just powertrain coverage, like most extended warranties. It’s transferable to subsequent owners.

Tiguan, like most Volkswagen vehicles, is designed for the driving experience, and as a result, it handles better than most of its competitors.

The turbo engine provides peppy performance that’s unusual in a small crossover. The Tiguan’s engine is the same one used in a variety of other VW models, including the Passat, Jetta and Golf.

4Motion operates automatically, with no driver input required, and is intended for bad-weather on-road use or occasional light off-road driving. There is no low-range gearing for serious trail driving, but the Tiguan doesn’t have enough ground clearance for trail use anyway — it’s just 7.9 inches.

The cockpit is well laid out, with controls easy to reach and operate, and gauges large enough to be read easily.

Four adults can ride comfortably, but the middle row is a bit tight for three adults. The third row is best left to two kids. There is only 12 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row rear seat, but that can be expanded to 33 cubic feet by folding down the 50/50 split-folding seatback. Folding both rear seats down opens up 65.7 cubic feet of space.

On 4Motion models, there is 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the second seat, opening up to 73.5 cubic feet with the second seat folded. The front passenger seatback also folds down to allow for carrying longer items.

Safety equipment on all models includes front seat-mounted side air bags and roof-mounted side-curtain bags for both rows. Also included are four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic stability control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

My front-drive SEL tester, which had no options, had a total sticker price of $31,990, including freight.

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