The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, introduced for 2018, is Europe’s bestselling SUV, and the most popular model in the Volkswagen Group worldwide. In the U.S., however, it was outsold in 2021 by the Jetta sedan and Atlas midsize SUV. But the Tiguan remains a worthy vehicle, thanks to an affordable entry price and its unique character.
Offered in ascending S, SE, SE R-Line, and SEL R-Line trim, the Volkswagen Tiguan receives the usual midcycle refresh for 2022, including redesigned LED headlamps, a revised grille and bumpers, and fresh wheels. The cabin gets spruced up as well, with a digital instrument cluster, a redesigned steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls for various functions and heated seats on all models.
Volkswagen also updated the SE, SE R-Line, and SEL R-Line models with touch-sensitive climate controls. In the driveline department, those models receive adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and Travel Assist, VW’s semi-autonomous driving system. Third row seats are optional on all but the SEL R-Line. But try before you buy; its space may be of marginal usefulness.
The updated exterior design maintains the Tiguan’s handsome lines. In fact, this is easily one of the best-looking vehicles in the compact SUV segment, as it eschews the juvenile styling flourishes common in this part of the market, particularly among Asian manufacturers. Its looks will age well.
Of course, the American Tiguan is sold elsewhere in the world as long-wheelbase model; the short-wheelbase Tiguan sold overseas is nine inches shorter. If you had to size up the Tiguan, it’s about 10 inches shorter, six inches narrower and two inches lower than the Atlas CrossSport.
At just under 186 inches long, most drivers will find it the perfect size.
Climb inside and you’ll find the same sensible styling that characterizes the exterior. This is truly a peoples’ car, without extravagant flourishes or overly indulgent finishes. Instead, there’s a simple, Teutonic functionality that’s refreshing, an intentional seriousness that’s a welcome relief that makes the interior ridiculously easy to use.
There are some notable trim differences, starting with the seats. S models get cloth, SE and SE R-Line models are sheathed in leatherette, while SEL R-Lines are trimmed in leather.
Speaking of seats, they’re very comfortable, and our two-row SEL R-Line model provided more than sufficient space in both rows, a little less in the second than in the front, but more sufficient nonetheless. The cabin remained fairly quiet, with only the occasional intrusion of the engine disturbing it.
And there’s 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and 73.4 cubic feet when they’re folded, although those figures are for the front-wheel-drive model; 4Motion all-wheel-drive models have slightly less. Still, it’s sizable considering the car’s footprint.
The new touch-sensitive steering wheel controls add an upscale flourish to the interior, but the wheel’s small diameter crowds some of the controls making some hard to use, such as the button for the heated steering wheel. The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster (8-inch on all but the top model) features a large clear font that’s very easy to read. Thankfully, there are no flashy, infantile graphics here, just a sensible hierarchy of information that’s easy to ready quickly while driving.
Being a Volkswagen, it’s no surprise the company’s workhorse engine can be found under the hood. In this case, it’s the 2.0-liter EA888 4-cylinder, turbocharged direct-injection engine that’s found in a number of Volkswagen and Audi models. It’s matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive or 4Motion all-wheel drive. The driveline generates 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, and is rated to tow 1,500 pounds. Payload is rated at 1,157 pounds with front-wheel drive; 120 pounds less with all-wheel drive.
It features four driving modes, including “Normal,” “Sport,” “Eco” and “Individual.” VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive models feature four additional modes that adjust the vehicle for driving conditions, including Onroad, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad.
The Tiguan has 7.4 inches of ground clearance with front-wheel drive; 7.6 inches with all-wheel drive.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet rated the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan for overall safety nor front crash protection, but does give it five stars for side crash safety and four stars for rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates it as Good in crashworthiness, crash mitigation and crash avoidance.
Volkswagen installs its Travel Assist semi-automated driving assistance on all Tiguans, as well as forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot monitor, rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping system and semi-automated emergency assistance.
When it comes to tech, VW equips the Tiguan with a 6.25-inch capacitive touchscreen on Tiguan S models, and 8-inch touchscreens on others. As you’d expect, there are USB-C ports and Bluetooth, along with HD radio, SiriusXM radio and a Fender premium audio system. Then there’s Car-Net, VW’s connected car mobile app, which features Amazon Alexa integration and Pandora, vehicle health reports, and a number of different services depending on the subscription plan chosen.
And, if you opt for the SE trim or above, you can complain to your car and it will respond. Say, “Hello Volkswagen, my feet are cold,” and rather than tell you to go put on a pair of socks and shoes rather than flip-flops, it will crank the heat without you lifting a finger.
Whereas the turbocharged 4 provides adequate power, throttle response seems better than before, coming on a bit more evenly than in the previous iteration. The engine emits more sound than fury, but acceleration seemed sufficient, and the relative lack of turbo lag and engine vibration lends this Tiguan a more refined feel than previous versions of the same model. Steering is relatively light but you’ll find it to be linear and precise.
The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system lends the car neutral handling in corners, imparting confidence. There is some body lean, however, but it’s not excessive.
Being that Tiguan competes in a fiercely fought segment, it’s not surprising that the Tiguan puts a priority on comfort, although the Tiguan is fairly agile with some body lean in corners. This is not a hiked-up GTI. Those expecting a taught, sporty driving feel may be disappointed, but most consumers won’t care.
This is an easy car to live with.
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line 4Motion Specifications
|L: 186.1 inches/W: 72.4 inches/H: 66.5 inches/Wheelbase: 109.9 inches
|2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive
|21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/24 mpg combined
|184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $37,320; As tested: $38,910 including $1,195 destination charge.
The Tiguan’s popularity is easy to understand. More refined than before, and boasting some worthwhile updates, the Tiguan provides a roomy cabin, refined driveline, easy-to-use technology delivered in a crisp, conservative demeanor that gets down to business without theatrics. And it’s available at an attractive $26,490 starting price for the S trim.
In today’s market, that could prove hard to resist.
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line 4Motion — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between 2021 and 2022 VW Tiguan?
The Volkswagen Tiguan receives the usual midcycle refresh for 2022 with exterior and interior styling updates and more standard equipment.
What is included in Tiguan R-Line Package?
The Tiguan R-Line trim comes with all-wheel drive, specific exterior trim, a higher starting price and an upgraded audio system.
What is the 2022 Tiguan comparable to?
There are many compact crossovers, such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape — but none have three rows like the Tiguan; one of the only one that does is the Mitsubishi Outlander.