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Volkswagen Tiguan

Like a Golf, but taller and thirstier.

The compact Golf might serve as ideal transportation in European cities, but Americans prefer bigger cars. With wider roads, wider butts, and — depending on where you live — tough weather conditions, an all-wheel-drive crossover seems to best fit the needs of American drivers. Enter the Tiguan, a tall hatchback based on the Golf but sized for us. VW calls it the “GTI of compact SUVs,” and that’s not far of. After all, the Tiguan shares the GTI’s basic chassis setup, excellent body control, and prodigious grip. The only engine is the powerful and refined turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The Tiguan offers a better driving experience than do most of its competitors, but at the expense of a few miles per gallon. Buyers can choose from a six-speed manual or automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. The Tiguan has a smooth ride and offers familiar, easy-to-use ergonomics. In fact, the Tiguan’s biggest drawback is its moniker. Named by an apparently intoxicated bunch of Germans, it’s half-tiger and half-iguana. This makes no sense, but the vehicle itself does. It’s much smaller than the Touareg on the outside but still offers a lot of room inside. It’s much less thirsty at the gas pump, too. Call it what you will, the Tiguan is a nice, if somewhat more expensive, alternative to the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.

COMPETITORS

Ford Escape

Honda CR-V

Nissan Rogue

Toyota RAV4

new for 2013

A face-lift for 2012 brought the Tiguan’s looks in line with the rest of the Volkswagen family, particularly the larger Touareg. For 2013, all Tiguans receive an electronic parking brake, hill-hold assist, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather shift knob. The SE trim gets a part-power passenger seat, and the SEL model is now equipped with a full-power passenger seat and a rearview camera.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; and traction and stability control are standard.

MPG

CITY 18–22

HWY 26–27

PRO

Poised driving dynamics

Spacious interior

Excellent ergonomics

CON

Noncompetitive fuel economy

Pricey

Base Price Range: $23,820–$35,690

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: S, SE, SEL

BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger

ENGINE: 2.0L turbo I-4, 200 hp, 207 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 95.4 cu ft

CAPACITIES: Towing 2200 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 23.8/56.1 cu ft

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