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2020 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: Not Our Cup of Tea, That's Why

nicad 09/11/2021 780

2020 Volkswagen Tiguan

In our opinion:

Our colleagues and contemporaries in the automotive press hold the 2020 VW Tiguan in higher regard than we do. We wouldn't say the Tiguan is a dud - it's not - but for some reason it just didn't sit well with us. Granted, we had a trim level with 20-inch wheels, so maybe that was to blame for the lackluster ride? After a week on the road and with so many other choices on the market, we recommend shopping around before buying a Tiguan.

Exterior Styling


Interior design


Driving dynamics


Safety & Technical Specifications


Everyday functionality



Fuel economy

Security functions

Elegant & Sporty


Road & Wind noise

Uncomfortable seats

Engine prone to "swaying"


The 2020 VW Tiguan has some endearing qualities, but unfortunately for the Tiguan, the pendulum is about to swing the other way. During our week-long road trip with the 2020 VW Tiguan, some of the things we liked ended up pissing us off as well.

A combination of two words, tiger and leguan (meaning "iguana" in German), the Tiguan is a beast of a different kind. Here's how our test drive went.

VW Tiguan: What's new for 2020?

3rd Row & All-Wheel Drive

Our 2020 VW Tiguan press vehicle

Some cool extras!

How much does the 2020 VW Tiguan cost?

Interior Highlights: Initial Impressions

Interior Highlights: Without Rhyme or Reason

Interior Highlights: Redeeming Qualities

2020 VW Tiguan: Engine & Powertrain

2020 VW Tiguan gas mileage

How does the 2020 VW Tiguan drive?

Lethargic & Lack of refinement

Should you buy a 2020 VW Tiguan?

Gallery VW Tiguan 2020

VW Tiguan: What's new for 2020?

Every Tiguan comes with VW's Car-Net telematics system and on-board Wi-Fi. Wireless charging is available, starting from the SE version. SEL models get a heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The new SE R-Line Black features 20-inch black aluminum-alloy wheels, an R-Line with black bumper and badging accents, fog lamps and a panoramic sunroof, among other features.

3rd Row & All-wheel drive

The 2020 Tiguan with front-wheel drive gets a third row as standard. With 4Motion all-wheel drive, the Tiguan comes standard with two rows, but a third row is optional.

Our 2020 VW Tiguan press vehicle near a new development in Plymouth, Michigan.

Our 2020 VW Tiguan press vehicle

The Tiguan is available in five trim levels: S, SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL and SEL Premium R-Line. Our press vehicle was an SEL Premium R-Line with 4Motion and a 2.0-liter turbo engine.

The 20-inch wheels caught our eye right away, as well as the R-Line-specific bumpers, badging, badging. and other exterior trim. Our Tiguan press vehicle was quite nice!

VW splits the window sticker like this (pictured below). The exterior includes automatic LED headlights, daytime running lights and taillights; halogen front fog lamps with low-speed cornering lamps; rain-sensing wipers with heated washer nozzles; a heated front wiper area on the lower part of the windshield; and a panoramic sunroof.

The interior includes dual-zone automatic climate control; second-row air vents; leather-wrapped heated steering wheel; heated leather seats; 10-way power adjustments, including lumbar support, for the driver; lighted and carpeted cargo area with tie-down hooks, 12V power outlet and privacy cover; and ambient lighting among other features.

Some cool extras!

Technology & The convenience package contains a number of useful, fun, and otherwise nifty things. Among our favorites are the aerial view camera; remote start; hands-free tailgate; wireless charging; Bluetooth connectivity; and a premium Fender audio system.

Safety features are a strong point for the 2020 Tiguan, and our press vehicle was no exception. From the factory, the 2020 Tiguan provides six standard airbags; anti-lock brakes; Electronic stability control; Lower Anchors & Child Tethers (LATCH) and VW's Intelligent Crash Response System.

In Technology & The convenience package includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor and lane keeping assist, among others.

How much does the 2020 VW Tiguan cost?

The base price for our 2020 VW Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line with 4Motion was $38,795. There was an additional charge for the third row ($595), while the destination charge was an additional $1,020. Once those were added, the total MSRP was $40,410.

By comparison, the 2020 VW Tiguan starts at $24,945.

Window sticker of our VW Tiguan 2020 press vehicle.

Interior Highlights: First Impressions

Our 2020 VW Tiguan press vehicle felt spartan, despite niceties like heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel and navigation. The Spartan feel might have more to do with the specific trim level of our press vehicle, than the entire Tiguan lineup itself. Our Tiguan was an SEL Premium R-Line, which gives the vehicle a larger 20-inch wheel set. Some may feel a difference in ride quality with these wheels, and indeed, we thought it was rougher.

As we said at the start, some of the endearing elements of the Tiguan also make it shorter. Drivers who like a more rugged SUV will appreciate the interior layout and overall feel of the SEL Premium R-Line. The downside, however, is the lack of comfort this trim level provides when the miles add up. The seats aren't very accommodating for long drives, and the interior lets in a lot of road and engine noise.

After about an hour at the wheel, we were uncomfortable, as were our passengers. If you can live without the extra features and treatments provided by the SEL Premium R-Line, go for a lower trim level. We'd be curious to see how the small 17-inch wheels roll on the SE trim level.

Interior design of the VW Tiguan 2020.

Interior Highlights: Without Rhyme or Reason

The weird combo button for the heated seat and driver's side steering wheel didn't make much sense to us. Although it could have been user error, we were unable to activate one independently of the other. In our experience, the button on the bottom right of the center console turns on the heated seats and the steering wheel at the same time. Then you switch to the eight-inch touchscreen to adjust the level of seat heat or turn off the steering wheel if you only want the heated seats (or vice versa).

Some of the menus and displays in the eight-inch touchscreen are similar and left us scratching our heads. Sometimes things just seem unnecessarily complicated.

For example, we dim our interior lights at night, as it is best practice for safety. Most vehicles have a dial or button just to the left of the steering wheel. Drivers should be able to reach quickly and do so, with no problem.

With our Tiguan press vehicle, interior brightness settings were in a separate menu on the eight-inch touchscreen. This menu is not available while moving. We had to stop to dim our lights inside. While it's not exactly a compromise, be prepared for quirky little things like this with the Tiguan. If you're driving and the sun is setting, you'll need to find a rest area before you can dim the interior lights.

Related: A preview of the VW lineup for 2020.

p>Interior highlights: acquiring qualities

One thing we liked was the information display right in front of the steering wheel. We set it up so we can see the compass (directly in the middle), digital speedometer, fuel remaining, and current mpg. Sometimes we changed the compass for the navigation map. Thanks to the eight-inch touchscreen, drivers have the flexibility to configure this central instrument display to their liking.

The Fender Premium audio system is a nice addition to the Tiguan. As I often do when driving, I turned to watercolors (SiriusXM 66). It's pretty hard to go wrong with anything Fender, from guitars to stereos. It's a great choice from VW.

For a family on the go, the new Tiguan is versatile and offers plenty of storage space for book bags, sports gear and whatever else you can think of for weekend outings. In the two-row Tiguan, there's 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, expanding to 73.5 cubic feet when folded. By comparison, our three-row Tiguan had 33 cubic feet of space behind the second row, rising to 65.7 cubic feet when folded.

With everything in place, there's still 12 cubic feet behind the third row.

2020 VW Tiguan: Engine & Powertrain

Under the hood of every Tiguan is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with direct injection. The engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, develops 184 horsepower (4400 rpm) and 221 lb-ft. of torque (1600 to 4360 rpm).

Related: Is the VW Extended Warranty Your Best Option?

VW uses what is known as the Budack cycle for the 2.0 liter engine. The automaker describes it as an innovative modification of the conventional four-stroke cycle for a better combination of power, efficiency and responsiveness. Based on our week-long test drive, we'd like to disagree on two of those points. While we agree with the efficiency part, the motor isn't powerful or responsive.

2020 VW Tiguan gas mileage

2020 VW Tiguan fuel economy




2.0litre FWD



2.0 liter all-wheel drive



The blue italics in the table above indicate the engine and transmission of our press Tiguan 2020 vehicle.

We drove just under 186 miles in the week we had our 2020 VW Tiguan. Most of the driving was done in the small communities surrounding the Detroit area, so our speeds rarely exceeded 45 mph. However, we took jaunts on M-10, I-94, and I-96 to get to these towns.

Our press vehicle's combined rating is 23 mpg. However, we averaged 26.2 for the week, ahead of the EPA rating. We think the Tiguan's start-stop feature made a significant difference.

Screenshot of the center screen before handing over our 2020 VW Tiguan press vehicle.

How does the 2020 VW Tiguan drive?

It's difficult for me. No automotive professional should deliberately hammer to the press a vehicle loaned to them by a car manufacturer. With the Tiguan, I wonder if driving a different trim level without the 20-inch wheels would make a difference? I would be curious to see.

The first time I drove our Tiguan press vehicle was not a pleasant experience. I imagined being a potential customer taking a test drive for the first time. It didn't sell me and made me wonder what long-term ownership would look like. On my first ride, it was hard to get comfortable; it was noisy and weak; quivering in the wind when a gust arose; and generally difficult to maneuver at higher speeds.

It wasn't the best first impression.

Structurally speaking, the 2020 VW Tiguan rides on a one-piece steel subframe and strut. front suspension type with lower wishbones and long-travel coil springs. The 2020 Tiguan also uses an electromechanical power steering system. These types of steering systems are common today. They are designed to "tighten up" at higher speeds, then "loosen up" (for lack of better words) at lower speeds. When done correctly, a vehicle should feel more stable on the highway, but also easier to maneuver when traveling around town.

There's nothing on the spec sheet that jumps out at you as abnormal when it comes to chassis and handling. So I wonder if the 20 inch wheels are responsible for the ride quality?

Lethargic & Unrefined

However, the 20-inch wheels aren't to blame for everything. When cruising, especially between 15 and 35 mph, the powertrain makes things difficult. We passed through Plymouth, Michigan, a town of about 9,000 people about 25 miles from Metro Detroit. Speed ​​limits in Plymouth, like most small towns, are lower than those in larger towns. In these low-speed environments, the Tiguan's steering is responsive, but that's quickly eclipsed.

We would turn a bend and then let off the accelerator – usually because another traffic light, pedestrian or car was right there. – and our Tiguan press vehicle would swerve. It's like premature engine braking, or like an invisible hand pushing the hood away. Anyway, our passengers felt it and they didn't like it. This lurch never corrected during our week-long ride either. If we lived in a small American town, where much of the driving is local and slower, we wouldn't buy the 2020 VW Tiguan.

Acceleration from a stop is adequate, but most of the time the throttle response is downright sluggish. . While a driver may get lucky and feel a spark, it's rare. Turbo lag is evident and the 2.0-liter engine feels worn out under the throttle, especially uphill.

On the other hand, the 2020 Tiguan's braking force is excellent. The thing stops on a dime with its 13.4-inch vented discs up front and the 11.8-inch solid discs out back.

VW Tiguan 2020.

Should You Buy a 2020 VW Tiguan?

As noted earlier, the endearing elements of this Tiguan trim level are also its downsides. The SEL Premium R-Line is rugged, and that has its appeal, but not on long road trips. The 20-inch wheels look cool, but they might hurt ride quality.

We think there are far too many handling issues for the 2020 VW Tiguan to be a viable option. Admittedly, we're probably in the minority because the Tiguan is VW's biggest seller in the US and most reviews of the vehicle are positive. However, before signing the papers for a new Tiguan, we recommend you test drive the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-5 or Nissan Rogue.

< p>While we'd be hesitant to buy the VW Tiguan based on our experience, this might just be the vehicle for you. It's important to get an idea of ​​what dealerships in your area are offering in terms of prices and incentives. This simple, free* search tool will help you see which VW dealers near you are offering the best deals on a new Tiguan.

Carl Anthony is editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors of the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers and a loyal fan of the Detroit Lions.

Gallery VW Tiguan 2020

Additional photos: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

*Automoblog and its partners may be compensated when you visit this link.

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