The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV is offered in four trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available on all models. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV is offered in four trim levels. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available on all models. (Manufacturer photo)

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan adds more space, improves gas mileage

The compact SUV is fully redesigned with a third row, but still sports VW quality characteristics.

Volkswagen’s Tiguan could rise to the level of serious contender in the compact SUV competition thanks to a total remake for 2018.

A longer wheelbase, 10.6 inches of added overall length, available seven-passenger seating, up to 58 percent more cargo space, improved fuel economy and advanced technologies put the new Tiguan on the radar of the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4, three forces of nature in the small SUV category.

Volkswagen does those competitors one better by giving the 2018 Tiguan the most generous bumper-to-bumper warranty in the segment: 6 years/72,000 miles, and fully transferable to subsequent owners.

Tiguan’s new design pushes the envelope a little beyond the previous version’s appearance, while still staying within the confines of VW’s signature low-key approach.

There are four trim levels: S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium. Pricing starts at $25,590 including destination charge. All four grades come standard with front-wheel drive and are available with Volkswagen’s proven 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

The S grade is respectably equipped, including halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, foglights with cornering function, heated exterior mirrors, 17-inch wheels, roof rails, a third-row seat on front-drive models, and VW’s Car-Net App-Connect system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

My tester was the SE grade with all-wheel drive and two-row seating. Like all models in the lineup, its power comes from a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces less horsepower (184) but more torque (221 pound-feet) than the previous Tiguan. It’s joined to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The mechanicals have been engineered to boost Tiguan’s fuel economy, which is 22 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. The numbers for AWD models are 21/27/23 mpg. These ratings aren’t as high as some other compact SUVs, but they do beat those of last year’s Tiguan.

Tiguan’s all-wheel drive system includes four driver-selectable modes: on-road, snow, off-road and custom off-road. The on-road mode includes normal, sport, eco and custom settings.

The generous torque produced by Tiguan’s new engine translates into entertaining acceleration from a standstill. Torque isn’t quite as lively at higher speeds, and when revs are high, such as during hill climbing, sounds from the engine are far from throaty.

But those characteristics did nearly nothing to lessen my enthusiasm for the 2018 Tiguan, whose handling and ride quality are exemplary. The same can be said for the car’s interior, in both design and build quality, not to mention the intelligent placement of everything and its ease of use.

Versatility is rampant within the Tiguan’s cabin. The 40/20/40 split second-row bench seat reclines, slides 7 inches fore and aft, and folds down. Cargo volume created with the bench seat folded is a whopping (for a compact SUV, anyway) 73.5 cubic feet.

2018 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN SE AWD

Base price, including destination charge: $31,130

Price as driven: $31,130

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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