Volkswagen's nifty compact crossover, the Tiguan, benefitted from a makeover for 2012, including a new front end that now resembles that of its bigger brother, the Touareg.
It's intended to give the Tiguan the new "face" of the Volkswagen brand, and it includes a new grille with twin chrome strips and a new, center VW badge. There are also new, swept-back headlights; a new bumper with integrated fog lights; and at the rear, new two-part taillights whose design also comes from the Touareg.
The top-of-the-line SEL models now come with adaptive bi-xenon headlights that turn slightly in the direction the car is turning, and there is a U-shaped band of 14 LED lights around the headlight lenses that are designed to serve as daytime running lights, Volkswagen says.
Tiguan arrived for 2009 billed as VW's first compact SUV, but it's technically a crossover because of its unibody construction -- frame and body in a single unit. It's built on the chassis of the Jetta/Golf/GTI compacts.
It's also one of the sportiest vehicles in its class. Designed to compete against vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Mitsubishi Outlander, the Tiguan seats five and comes with a turbocharged, 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine and either front- or all-wheel drive.
Volkswagen says that although the Tiguan costs a bit more than its competitors, it's intended to be more rugged and durable, and to offer a more-exciting driving experience, one of the hallmarks of VW vehicles.
In keeping with its sporty concept, the Tiguan handles better than most of its peers, and the turbo engine provides decent acceleration for a small crossover. The car can go from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. It has a factory-limited top speed of 129 mph for the U.S. market.
The Tiguan's 2.0-liter engine is the same one used in a variety of other VW and Audi models, including the Passat, Jetta and GTI. It has 207 foot-pounds of torque.
Inside, the Tiguan shines. There is a nice soft-touch fabric on the dash, and the front bucket seats are bolstered, but still quite comfortable. There are 23.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat -- expandable to 56.1 cubic feet by folding down the 60/40 split-bench rear seat.
The Tiguan has been named a Top Safety Pick for 2012 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
2012 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN
BASE PRICE: $22,995
PRICE AS TESTED: $30,525
EPA FUEL ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/27 mpg highway
ENGINE: 2-liter, four-cylinder
POWER: 200 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
LENGTH: 174.5 inches
WIDTH: 71.2 inches
HEIGHT: 65.6 inches
WHEELBASE: 102.5 inches
TOWING CAPACITY: 2,200 pounds
BOTTOM LINE: Crossover version of the Jetta sedan