Compact utility vehicles are the most popular and most competitive segment sold around the world by carmakers.
But the popularity and competition in the segment seems to have unnerved some executives. Fearing thinning margins and endless competition, those execs are thinking about ditching the segment in the hopes of finding fatter margins in some other segment, which is not quite so popular.
Volkswagen, however, is staying put, and the 2023 Tiguan SEL R-Line comes into VW showrooms fully loaded to take on the competition from popular vehicles such as Honda CRV, Toyota RAV 4 and Chevrolet Equinox.
The 2023 Tiguan enters the fray with plenty of spirit, a full array of technology as well as comfort and convenience features and a solid and deftly tuned chassis and suspension, which gives it an advantage over a number of competitors.
The Tiguan is designed as utility vehicle, so its shape is dictated by its height, which allows for a relatively tall rear hatch, making it easier to load bulky items such as trunks or large packages into the rear space, and to accommodate 7.4 inches of ground clearance in case you want to drive off the pavement.
The exterior is dressed up by Volkswagen’s signature front fascia, roof rails and 17-inch wheels with their own distinctive styling, and neatly defined sheet metal, giving the vehicle a bit of personality in a crowded segment with limited visual appeal overall.
On the inside, the Tiguan is a nice blend of simplicity and functionality. The controls are easy to reach, and the gauges are easy to read, while the entertainment system come with a rich sound. While not lavish or luxurious, the materials used throughout the cabin offer a clever blend of textures.
The seats are comfortable, and while there is not a lot of storage space, it is easy to find. Visibility is excellent and the advanced safety technology is neatly integrated into the cabin environment.
The 2023 Tiguan SEL R-Line features a 2.0-liter turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine, which is matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain on the Tiguan is augmented all-wheel and four different drive modes, including one for snow. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line a combined fuel economy rating of 24 mpg, including 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The Tiguan can also tow up to 1,500 pounds.
Safety and Technology
The 2023 Tiguan comes with multiple airbags. It is also equipped with forward collision warning and autonomous braking, active blind spot monitor, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, electronic stability controls and brake force distribution.
It has advanced cruise control, rearview camera, an 8-inch digital cluster, app connected smartphone integration via USB and Bluetooth connectivity as well as an electronic parking brake, automatic LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and touchscreen in the center stack for the entertainment and navigation systems as well as steering wheel controls.
One of the things I quickly noticed about the 2023 Tiguan is how well balanced it is. The vehicle tips the scales at a little over 3,700 pounds, and the 2.0-liter engine delivers ample power and torque, while the first-rate suspension provide a smooth ride on all sort of surfaces and even over major bumps in the road.
The vehicle quickly develops plenty of speed in freeway driving but also is plenty nimble in tight situations with a modest running radius, which is needed in densely packed urban areas such as Detroit’s Southwest corner. The Tiguan steers easily and the brakes have ample stopping power. Overall, the Tiguan is both a pleasant and fun vehicle to drive.
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line Specifications
|L: 186.1 inches/W: 72.4 inches/H: 66.1 inches/Wheelbase: 109.9 inches
|2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; 8-speed automatic transmission
|21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/24 mpg combined
|184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $26,950; As tested: $38,975 plus $1,295 delivery fees
The 2023 Tiguan is certainly worth taking out for a test drive. But at $38,000 it is pricey, plus it is a compact vehicle with limited interior space so it may not be suitable for a growing family, which needs to carry around a lot of stuff.
The Tiguan’s fuel economy is just average if it is needed for a long commute. But it is a comfortable vehicle to drive, and it is versatile — quite capable of handling modest off-road excursions with its well-honed suspension.
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Tiguan R and Tiguan R-Line?
The R-Line package also adds stylized air inlets up front along with front and rear bumpers that are unique to the R-Line trim models. Other notable exterior modifications include R-Line badging and side skirts that create a sportier look than other Tiguan models.
How many miles do Tiguans last?
The good news is that a Volkswagen Tiguan is built to last. A 2022 Tiguan can easily last more than 100,000 miles with proper care and maintenance.
Are Tiguans expensive to maintain?
They include the all-new Mazda CX-90, the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent. Also worth considering: the Jeep Grand Cherokee-L, Dodge Durango, Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and Nissan Pathfinder.