Clean European Styling That Will Stand the Test of Time
If you want a European look to your compact crossover, then look no further than the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan. The Tiguan’s classic design heritage has hit the mark with Americans, as it is the best-selling Volkswagen model. Size-wise, the 2020 Tiguan is bigger than other compact crossovers, so it almost slots in as a small midsize SUV. These factors, plus respectable fuel economy, driving comfort and a full suite of driver safety technology, makes it a must-see when crossover shopping.
Turbo Power + AWD
The Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Using an eight-speed automatic transmission, Volkswagen labels its all-wheel drive 4Motion, which is a permanent all-wheel-drive system. 4Motion is engineered to eliminate wheel spin under almost all conditions and to automatically decouple the rear wheels when the driving load and conditions don’t require additional traction, thus saving fuel. When necessary, in fractions of seconds, the 4Motion system engages the rear wheels for seamless and instant needed traction. More on this later.
EPA fuel economy is 23 mpg city/27 highway/23 combined, numbers we feel are a bit low since Volkswagen can squeeze upper-30 miles per gallon from its four-cylinder engines. In real world use, 332 miles of driving SoCal freeways, we averaged 27.8 mpg. However, over a 200-mile all-freeway run with the adaptive cruise control set at 65 mpg, we averaged a much more satisfying 32.1 mpg. Two technologies that can positively affect fuel economy are the respectable 0.35 coefficient of drag, or Cd, which is a technical measure of how slippery the Tiguan goes through the air, and the engine stop/start feature. Stop/start turns off the engine when at a traffic light or stopped in rush hour traffic, then restarts when you releasr the brake pedal. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience. Your numbers may differ.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium 4Motion handled with a responsiveness that requires little driver exertion. Except for a very minor burble, or hesitation, upon launching from a stop, turbo lag was minor and acceleration was smooth. The Tiguan 4Motion has four driver selectable drive modes of Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom. Then, there are settings for Snow and Off Road and Off Road Custom, which are more traction options than found on most crossovers. Eco is best for maximizing fuel economy when on the open road, but Sport gives the Tiguan more spirit by changing the transmission shift points, the throttle response and steering sensitivity.
The 4Motion system improved the handling even in normal and dry conditions. It gives balance so that body roll or side-to-side pitch during aggressive turns is manageable, and never was an issue. The 255/40 Hankook Ventus all-season tires on 20-inch alloy wheels provided sure-footed cornering, but gave a bit rougher ride than the base model 17-inch tires might provide. The four-wheel independent suspension produced the desired handling characteristic of pulling tighter the sharper you powered through hard corners. The power-assisted front vented and rear solid discs, with anti-lock brakes, stopped the car straight without brake fade. Electronic stability control is standard.
The front suspension is strut-type with coil springs, with multi-link and coil springs in the rear and anti-roll bars all the way around. The rack and pinion electric power steering had excellent road feel, and is progressive, as in it tightens (or becomes heavier) when on the open road, and lightens when in town. Highway 70+ mph cruising was solid and confident.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The 2018 redesign of the Tiguan continued the Volkswagen tradition of clean, contemporary styling. Clean Fleet Report drove the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan Premium R-Line, painted in Pure White, which is the top-of-the-line model for features and design cues. Nearly devoid of chrome except for tasteful accents and trim, the body is simple, with a slim front grille featuring automatic LED headlights and daytime running lights. The adaptive front lighting system includes swivel-mounted headlights that move based on the steering angle and vehicle speed. This technology is very helpful by illuminating the road when turning a corner.
The strong but subtle body line, or the line that runs the side of the car from front to back, leads to the horizontal, notched LED tail lamps. The roof, with a large power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof, has rails, the smallest-of-smallest antennas and an integrated spoiler over the power, hands-free lift gate. While badging is at a minimum to not distract from the overall design, a distinctive R-Line badge can be found on each of the front fenders.
Driving Experience: Interior
The Tiguan’s neat and tidy interior has a clean and thoughtful look with a crafted fit and finish. Nothing fancy, trendy or quirky, but it continues the German simplicity theme with a mix of soft and hard plastics throughout the cabin. Clean Fleet Report’s Tiguan had a very attractive black leather with Saffrono Orange inserts on the seats and door panels. The white backlighting for the dash gauges added a premium element that went along with the overall top shelf materials used throughout the interior.
The Digital Cockpit information screen can be configured for up-to four different drivers, while the centerpiece of the infotainment system is the 8.0-inch color touchscreen. The nine-speaker Fender Premium audio system delivered deep, full crisp tones for the AM/FM/HD radio with MP3 playback. SiriusXM is part of VW’s Media Device Interface (MDI) with Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music, a SD card slot and two USB ports. Volkswagen’s VW CarNet connected car technology provides a seamless link for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls, so thanks to VW for making it easy to operate the radio, and the dual zone climate control system, with the turn of a few knobs.
Our 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium 4Motion had first and second row leather-trimmed seats. The front seats are heated with the driver getting power adjustments and memory, and the passenger power and manual adjustments. The seats had good thigh bolstering with lumbar adjustable for the driver; combined with the height adjustable and telescoping steering column, a comfortable driving position was easy to be found. My road trip passenger and I found the front seats to be comfortable. Separating the front seats is a center console with cup holders and an ample storage area. The flat bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel has white top stitching and an R-Line badge.
The second row has excellent space for two adults, three in a pinch. The second row seat slides and reclines, offering great flexibility to increase leg and head room. HVAC vents, cupholders and reading lights make the rear seat an overall welcoming place to hang out. When lowered, the second row 40/20/40 split seat back increases the storage capacity to 73.5 cubic-feet. This storage space is very usable, as the roof is nearly flat and the lift gate is not raked at a severe angle. For even more storage, the Tiguan comes with roof rack rails. A third row seat is available on the 4Motion models for $595.
Interior conveniences, standard or optional, include wireless phone charging, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power windows, remote engine start with keyless access, heated multi-function steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, adaptive cruise control, power adjustable and manual folding heated exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, multiple power ports, and front and rear reading lights.
Safety and Convenience
Clean Fleet Report’s 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan came with six airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system and VW’s Intelligent Crash Response System. Standard or available safety features include a rear view camera, a blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, rear traffic alert, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. If you have never driven a car with these last two safety features, have your Volkswagen sales representative demonstrate them to you. Once you have used them you will feel naked when driving a car that is not similarly equipped. The overhead view camera, giving a 360-degree bird’s eye view, is a great feature for parking, or checking around the Tiguan before driving away.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in five trims and two drive systems. These are the base prices, including the $1,020 destination charge.
S – FWD $25,965
S – 4Motion $27,265
SE – FWD $28,115
SE – 4Motion $29,415
SE R-Line Black – FWD $31,315
SE R-Line Black – 4Motion $32,615
SEL – FWD $33,265
SEL – 4Motion $34,565
SEL Premium R-Line – 4Motion – $39,815
Clean Fleet Report’s 2020 Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion had a MSRP, with no options but including the $1,020 destination charge, of $39,815.
The 2020 Tiguan comes with these warranties:
- New Vehicle – Four years/50,000 miles
- Powertrain – Four years/50,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation – Seven years/100,000 miles
- 24 Hour Roadside Assistance – Three years/36,000 miles
- Scheduled Maintenance – Two years/20,000 miles
Observations: 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion
The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan is a pleasure to drive. You won’t be disappointed if you are looking for a compact crossover that is roomy, has a quiet ride and is fully-equipped with a nicely appointed interior. The classic European design will age gracefully, and an inviting entry price under $26,000 (S model with front-wheel drive) is appealing.
Clean Fleet Report did not have the opportunity to take the Tiguan off road to test the 4Motion all-wheel drive system. We have done this on other Volkswagen models and can report that 4Motion offers exceptional grip. But you don’t need to go off-roading to get the advantage of the sure-footed handling of the Tiguan. Confidence is high when entering corners or being passed by an 18-wheeler at freeway speeds. The 0-60 time in the low nine-second range isn’t fast, but for most people buying a Tiguan it will be perfectly fine for their driving needs.
The third-row seat option gives the Tiguan something its key competitors, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, don’t have. The fuel economy on the Tiguan 4motion is lower than a few of its competitors, including the CR-V, RAV4 and the Ford Escape—and the Tiguan doesn’t have a hybrid or plug-in hybrid model. But the Tiguan’s first two years of scheduled maintenance being covered, the comprehensive list of advance driver assistance systems (ADAS) and the optional third row seat are strong selling points.
What this all means is doing your homework before visiting your local Volkswagen dealer will prepare you to find the exact Tiguan that is right for your lifestyle. Request an extra-long test drive where you can see if the 2020 Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion suits your commuting, around town family needs and maybe your adventurous side of trekking through the back country.
Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!
Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Volkswagen.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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