The Tiguan is offered in S, LE, SE and SEL trims; both are offered either with front-wheel drive or 4Motion all-wheel drive, and while a 6-speed automatic transmission is available on either model, the S can be had with a 6-speed manual.
With either transmission, performance is strong from the 2.0L, direct-injected turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The engine delivers a stout 207 lb-feet of torque relatively low in the rev range to bring it the response of a larger V6. Fuel economy estimated to be as good as 19 mpg city, 26 highway with the manual gearbox.
The Tiguan has a sport-tuned, firm-but-absorbent suspension and its electromechanical power steering provides more reassurance and feedback than is typical in this class. Together with the strong engine, confident braking and impressive grip, the Tiguan feels much sportier than might be assumed from the taller utility-vehicle profile.
As with the rest of the Volkswagen line, the Tiguan comes with firm, well-bolstered seats in front, while the backseats both recline 23 degrees and slide six inches fore and aft to balance comfort, legroom and cargo. The seatback folds forward to expand cargo space and the front passenger seatback also folds forward flat to fit exceptionally long cargo such as skis or ladders.
The Tiguan's available 4Motion all-wheel drive sends 90 percent of torque to the front wheels normally, but when needed, it can send nearly all to the rear wheels to provide the best traction. Safety features are also strong on the Tiguan; standard on all models are front side thorax airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The Tiguan S comes with a very generous list of standard equipment that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air conditioning, 8-way adjustable driver and passenger front seats, and four power outlets. The LE upgrades the stereo to one with a media interface and an iPod cable as well as heated, power-adjustable leatherette seats. The SE model steps up to 18-inch alloys, fog lamps, a roof rack, extra chrome trim, heated seats, heated washer nozzles, leather trim, a power driver seat, a trip computer and an upgraded sound system. At the top of the line, the SEL adds even larger, 19-inch alloy wheels plus bi-xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, a self-dimming rearview mirror, a Smart Key entry system, a navigation system, push-button start and adjustable ambient interior lighting.
Major options include a sunroof on the S and SE, navigation on the SE and SEL, while a Dynaudio premium sound system package is available on the Tiguan SEL.