Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

November 3, 2013

Cargazing: Tiguan has turbo power, unique feeling

If you want to know what sets the Volkswagen Tiguan apart from the other gazillion crossover vehicles on the market, it’s one word: fun.

That’s a hard thing to quantify, but the Tiguan seems to have it in spades. It’s sporty like the Mazda CX-5 and spunky like the Kia Soul, but it combines those traits in a unique way that only VeeDub can do.

Part of the fun comes from the Tiguan’s base engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. That’s a good amount of power for this size crossover and helps contribute to a fast, zippy vibe, even in the $22,995 base model.

But even more than that, the Tiguan has a sense of German precision that’s rare to find in this price class. It has a nicely tuned suspension, doors that shut with a quality “thud,” and dials that click with the delicacy of a mechanical watch movement. It just feels like it’s got more engineering thought and originality to it than many cars in this class.

One example: the switch for the climate control system doesn’t have just a few limited options for blowing air on your feet, at your head or on the windshield via the defroster. It’s got a knob with an almost infinite amount of variation — letting you pick the exact mixture of air that you want.

If you’re the kind of picky person who wants just a little air blowing on your feet and a lot on your face — or vice versa — that’s an important thing.

The Tiguan’s changes for 2014 are mainly about value, taking popular features and expanding them to trim lines at lower prices. The Fender Premium Audio System, for example, is now available on more affordable lines.

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