When a person knows they're doing something well, they tend to stick to the approach that got them there. Automakers are no different. It's why vehicles like the Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, and Porsche 911 have successfully soldiered on for decades accomplishing the same mission year after year and generation after generation.
While a far less storied automobile than the F-Series or Carrera, the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is a new adherent to this approach. The debut of the second-generation of VW's compact crossover marked a huge step forward at a time when the brand knew little about building high-riders, having only sold the Touareg SUV and the unloved first-gen Tiguan before. This mid-cycle update refines that successful approach with more standard safety gear and technology, as well as light aesthetic touches and more premium interior treatments.
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|Quick Stats||2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line|
|Engine:||Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4|
|Fuel Economy:||21 City / 28 Highway / 24 Combined|
|Cargo Volume:||37.6 / 73.4 Cubic Feet|
|Towing Capacity:||1,500 Pounds|
|Base Price:||$25,995 + $1,195 Destination|
We split our time testing the 2022 Tiguan between the top-end SEL R-Line and the base Tiguan S, and while there are lots of good things happening on the high side, the real story is the base model. Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is now standard equipment for the Tig’s $27,190 starting price, including a $1,195 destination charge, and you can snag an in-car wireless hotspot, too. Paired with the 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster is a smallish 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system on the base model.
Neither of the displays here are particularly attractive, though. You'll find higher-definition screens in the Honda CR-V, for example. This shortcoming is particularly unfortunate, because we have no real qualms with the fidelity of the Tiguan's optional 10.0-inch cluster display nor the 8.0-inch touchscreen. We won't accuse VW of cheaping out – a digital cluster on an entry level model is nice – but the grainy screens feel like the result of an accountant saying “Tsk, tsk…”
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Volkswagen Tiguan
The other big addition to the base car comes on the safety front. Volkswagen isn't matching the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 by offering all the active safety goodies as standard, but it's at least making them accessible and affordable for entry level customers. At $895, the base model's IQ.Drive package adds blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, Travel Assist (VW’s name for the duet of ACC and LKA), auto-dimming mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers. That's in addition to the standard LED headlights.
While we weren't able to test these systems on our drive route through the rolling countryside west of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a highway road trip earlier this year in the 2021 Tiguan revealed VW's active suite to be among the more competent setups around. It lacks the composure of Nissan ProPilot Assist or Hyundai and Kia's Highway Drive Assist, but as a way of lessening the driver's load, Travel Assist's ability to manage the gas and brake while keeping the car centered did the job.
Volkswagen isn't matching the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 by offering all the active safety goodies as standard, but it's at least making them accessible and affordable for entry level customers.
While IQ.Drive is available on the Tiguan S, we'd strongly consider upgrading to the SE model, which includes it as standard for $30,690. In addition to the safety gear, you'll score a larger, higher-res 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, a wireless charge pad, and a power tailgate.
Hey Tiggy, You're So Fine
If you want to witness the full breadth of VW's interior and exterior updates, you'll need to check out the top-of-the-line SEL R-Line. Every 2022 Tiguan trim features some small aesthetic tweaks – updated LED headlights and taillights, a new grille, an attractive “TIGUAN” wordmark across the tailgate, and a host of new wheel options – but the R-Line treatment cuts the most attractive figure. Unique front and rear bumpers, pleasant chrome accenting, 20-inch alloys, and a grille-spanning strip of LED light, like the ID.4 electric crossover, highlight the sportier trim..
The Tiguan's interior sees some small upgrades too, but not all of them are good. Updated trim pieces freshen the cabin, as do touch-capacitive buttons on the steering wheel and for the climate control system. We're disappointed to see VW go this route with all its new models though, as the buttonless buttons are fickle, unintuitive, and either too sensitive or not sensitive enough. The steering wheel controls are particularly fussy, which makes interacting with Digital Cockpit a pain. You can avoid these ills on lower-end models like the Tiguan S, which retains conventional buttons.
Beyond those changes, this is still the same competitive and likable cabin. The front seats are the best in the segment, feeling more akin to something you'd find in a Golf GTI than a compact CUV. There's plenty of support for long-haul driving, while the rear bench offers impressive leg, head, and foot space. And of course, the cabin is quiet at virtually any speed. This new model stands out, though, with standard heated seats on all trims and available ventilated chairs. If you live somewhere that experiences climate extremes (so basically anywhere, nowadays), the Tiguan is easy to recommend.
Typical of mid-cycle updates, Volkswagen has mostly left the Tiguan's mechanicals alone. The lone engine is still a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Paired to an eight-speed automatic and an available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, the engine offers a pleasant if unremarkable experience.
As we said during our test of the 2021 model, the Tiguan feels quicker than its horsepower and torque figures might indicate, offering peak low-end twist at just 1,600 rpm. The eight-speed does its thing, managing engine speed unobtrusively, while the entire powertrain does its part to not wear on the driver, with the gearbox keeping the revs down and the engine sounding smooth and pleasant under heavy throttle.
The unchanged mechanicals yield a similarly uninspiring but inoffensive handling character. Zipping around what passes for twisty roads in southeastern Michigan meant dealing with a fair amount of well-controlled body motion and rather lifeless (but well-weighted) steering.
Wait, A Price Drop?
Despite the changes in tech, safety gear, and the updated styling, VW kept the price of the Tiguan reasonable. The base car's $27,190 starting price marks only a $750 increase over last year's model. On the high end, Volkswagen pared back, removing last year's SEL Premium R-Line but offering most of the same equipment on the new range-topper, the SEL R-Line. So instead of paying $40,290 for the car we sampled earlier in the year, you can get a 2022 model with the same goodies for $37,790. That substantial savings is a big reason the Tiguan's official rating jumped from the 2021 model's 8.0 to the facelifted crossover's score of 8.4.
The 2022 Tiguan is about as well executed as a mid-cycle update gets. Maintaining important qualities like a pleasant driving character, a premium feel, good technology, and a healthy and easy to understand collection of trims is easy, but with this refresh, VW amplified them. This is a more attractive, better-equipped crossover, and one that's absolutely worth your consideration.
Tiguan Competitor Reviews:
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line