2009 Volkswagen Tiguan First Impressions Review – VW goes wild with their new compact SUV

Expert Reviews Volkswagen

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan
Review and photos by Derek Mau


  • Comfortable ride
  • Quiet cabin
  • Zippy 2.0L 200hp engine with a generous helping of torque
  • View to the heavens with panoramic sunroof
  • Turn-by-turn directions from nav-system is audible and displayed directly in front of the driver


  • Too much body lean with aggressive turns
  • Touch-screen for navigation and audio functions has a slow response
  • The cargo area with the second-row seats in place is too small for bicycles, camping gear and other large items
  • Missing the TDI version with better fuel economy
  • A little pricey with today’s weak dollar and strong Euro exchange rate

Tiguan. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue very well, unless I’m missing something in the German to English translation. Anyone know what a Tiguan really is besides it being V-dub’s new sport compact crossover SUV?

What I discovered is that Tiguan is another one of those names concocted by the marketing department. A melding of the German words Tiger (“tiger”) and Leguan (“iguana”). Someone please tell me how Volkswagen’s new cute-ute has the combined the attributes of a fierce jungle cat and a lazy decorative reptile.

Volkswagen Tiguan - tail light

What I can tell you, after driving the Tiguan around the San Francisco bay area for a few days, is that VW did a very nice job of coming up with a compact crossover that is well appointed with enough electronic features to keep the hidden geek within us very happy. For those who don’t live for the latest in geek technology, the Tiguan drives comfortably like an expensive luxury car and is ready for that weekend trip to the mountains. Looking into the eye of the tiger, the Tiguan has enough muscle underneath the hood to scoot you along without serious mashing of the accelerator pedal and sounds manly passing those do-good hybrid cars on the freeway. Cruising along at highway speeds, the intrusion of road noise is kept at bay by a well insulated cabin.

Volkswagen Tiguan - interior

Power to zip through NorCal traffic is provided by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that cranks out 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. That is enough power to go from 0 – 60 in less than 8 seconds or tow 2,200 pounds. Yes, you can go fast AND haul your Sea-Doo to the lake with the same car. Although, I do not recommend doing both at the same time. Having a powerful engine comes with a price. And that price is evident at the gas pump. After 350 miles we recorded 20 mpg during our few days with the Tiguan.

Volkswagen Tiguan - 200hp 2.0L TSI engine

Its short wheelbase makes the Tiguan easy to maneuver through crowded streets or on narrow off-road trails. Seven inches of ground clearance gives the Tiguan plenty of height to clear tree roots or rocks when adventuring beyond the urban jungle. Standard seventeen-inch wheels on the SE grade provide a stable footprint, while a fully independent suspension gives the Tiguan a responsive ride and handling with a little too much body lean for my driving habits.

Volkswagen Tiguan - panoramic sunroofA wee smaller than the Honda CR-V, the Saturn Vue and Toyota RAV4, the Tiguan is an urban-friendly, ski resort-capable sport-ute with optional all-wheel drive. The cargo area is quite functional and the back seats fold flat so that the limited size of the Tiguan is not wasted. Even the passenger side front seat folds flat to accommodate those extra long projects we sometimes purchase at Home Depot.

Check out the panoramic, power-sliding sunroof that is an option with the SE and SEL trims. Bring along the cool shades and hat as this glass portal to the sky has four times the area of a typical sunroof. Even your rear seat passengers will enjoy the benefits of this ultimate skylight to the world.

The 2009 Tiguan is a 4-door, 5-passenger sport-utility, available in 3 trims, ranging from the S to the SEL. Our test vehicle was the SE trim with the 4motion (AWD) option and 6-speed automatic transmission. Base price for the SE trim with 4Motion option is $28,875. Total price for our test vehicle, including destination charge, rear side air bags with head protection, power-sliding panoramic sunroof, and DVD satellite navigation system comes to a whopping $33,165.




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