By Larry Lark / Herald Special Sections Writer
The compact SUV niche – in my book at least – is the most competitive class in the automotive industry.
The one I drove most recently is the one I like the best. That’s because there are at least a handful, probably more, that are top notch. It’s hard to go wrong.
My most recent tester, the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL with 4Motion, is my new favorite. My daughter wants to buy one, while our son fawned over the premium Fender sound system.
Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC, four-cylinder, direct-inject engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that combine to generates 200 horsepower and lots of fun, the Tiguan provides precision engineering, solid construction, premium craftsmanship, upscale features, four-wheel drive and versatility to its lucky owners.
The 2017 Tiguan adds new trim lines and features that further enhance the model’s value story. The trim order is now: S, Wolfsburg, Sport and SEL, with more standard content added across the entire line-up.
Always ready for action, the Tiggy (as my wife affectionately called it) is designed to be a carryall for fun gear. Roof rails, standard on all trims, can accommodate an array of accessories including bike racks, kayak and surfboard carriers. The available towing hitch accepts an attachment to carry up to four bikes, or can be used to pull up to 2,200 braked pounds of jet skis, dirt bikes or ATV’s when properly equipped.
Cabin designs don’t come much more flexible than the Tiguan. There is spacious seating for five adults, easy step-in through the wide-opening doors, and generous legroom and headroom.
But the versatility of the Tiguan seating sets it apart and makes it the perfect lifestyle vehicle. The rear seat has a 40/20/40 split to fit an owner’s load-carrying needs. Fold down the wide center section and it can accommodate skis, fishing gear, or rugs, while still having space for passengers on either side.
With the rear seats in place, there is 23.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the second-row seats forward and it increases to 56.1 cubic feet. And for the ultimate in cargo space, the available folding front passenger seatback can fold forward and flat to accommodate loads up to 98-inches long.
I loved the panoramic glass tilt-and-slide sunroof. This panoramic roof comprises a front opening glass segment and a fixed glass panel at the rear. It features pinch protection and an electrically operated, one-touch sunshade that covers the inside of the entire glass area.
VW adds all the goodies including navigation, rear-view camera, USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio and apps. Everything is instinctive to operate, and not overwhelming.
Electronic assistance includes electronic stability control, anti-slip regulation, anti-lock braking system and tire-pressure monitoring system.
All Tiguan models feature the advanced Volkswagen Intelligent Crash Response System that automatically shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and even switches on the hazard warning lights if the airbags deploy.
Without a doubt, VW hits its mark with the Tiguan. Just ask my neighbors. They are satisfied owners.
Base Price: $36,475
Price As Driven: $37,870
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.