2020 VW Tiguan SEL 4Motion: European quality at a low price
Sometimes it's so easy to be caught up in the new, you forget how good the relatively old is. That's the case with the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan, the company's well designed compact crossover that is currently being overshadowed by the positive reviews for its newer and larger SUV's, the midsize three-row Atlas and the shorter by still midsize two-row Atlas Cross Sport.
I tested both the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport in the past year. They are VW's most serious efforts to tap into the American crossover market yet. Both are much larger than previous VW crossovers, with easier riding suspensions than I normally associate with German manufacturers. They are justifiably among the company's most popular models right now.
Both versions of the Atlas made such a positive impression on me, I'd frankly forgotten VW still makes the Tiguan, which I last tested in 2018. Rereading that review and doing additional research, I realized what an oversight I made. It was, in fact, the company's first step toward larger crossovers, having been completely redesigned to be bigger than the previous generation and even offering an optional third row a seats, a rarity in compact crossovers.
Once I started driving the 2020 Tiguan, I realized something else. Despite being bigger than before, it still drives like what I expect from a German manufacturer. The suspension is much firmer than those on its larger cousins, giving in a sportier feel. Although the turbocharged 2.0-liter only has 184 horsepower, the eight-speed automatic is tuned to make it feel peppy around town, especially in the Sport mode. This is the VW for buyers who need something bigger than a Golf but still want a German road car.
And despite all the time and effort VW has put into the two versions of the Atlas, the company has not neglected the Tiguan. It is now available in five trim levels for 2020: S, SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL and SEL Premium R-Line. Options include the aforementioned third row of seats and VW's refined 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which offers four drive modes for defferent conditions: on-road, off-road, snow and custom.
Our test SEL version was also equipped with several other options that improved the driving experience, including a large sunroof and a high resolution digital display instead of the traditional instrument cluster. The 8-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dash was also easy to read and use.
After a week of test driving, I concluded the 2020 Tiguan is not just the remaining SUV that Volkswagen hasn't redesigned for the American market yet. It is a well designed, fun to drive, fully capable crossover that still competes well against all the other compacts on the market. In fact, with a starting price of under $25,000 for a front-wheel-drive S version, may be just the bargain that small families are looking for these days.
2020 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion
Base price: $24,945 (S FWD)
Price as tested: $35,160
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (184 hp, 221 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive Modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, Custom
AWD modes: On-road, Off-road, Snow, Custom
EPA estimated mileage: 20/27
Overall length: 185.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,858 pounds
Final assembly: Puebla, Mexico
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