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2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SUV - FROM $22,995

The 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan offers a top-notch cabin and European driving manners, but some competing crossovers are more desirable overall.

2013  Volkswagen Tiguan SUV

What's New for 2013

For 2013, the Volkswagen Tiguan carries over largely unchanged. All models now come with a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel. Volkswagen also drops the LE trim level.

Introduction

Most folks buy a crossover SUV for an important measure of practicality, even a compact one like the 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan. For example, your priorities might call for a comfortable and fuel-efficient daily driver, but many buyers also want room for bikes and backpacks, a Marshall stack and a PA, or even just a Great Dane and a month's worth of its food. Whatever the need, the Tiguan distinguishes itself from other small crossover SUVs with an upscale interior and sophisticated driving dynamics.

The Tiguan's interior feels refined for its class, with Audi-like levels of quality and fitment. Though it's perhaps a little too nice for outdoor adventurers, this cabin nonetheless enhances everyday driving and feels like money well spent. Under the hood is a spirited 200-horsepower turbocharged engine with useful and seamless low-end power delivery that can be matched to an available all-wheel-drive system. And while it's not exactly sporty to drive, even the base Tiguan feels more compact and agile than you expect when the road begins to wind.

Here's the knock on the 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan, though. It just doesn't offer much cargo space, as the Tiguan is one of the smaller crossovers in the class. The Ford Escape, for example, is not quite 4 inches longer, yet offers 12 more cubic feet of volume than the Tiguan. Even the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen offers more cargo room. On the upside, the Tiguan does feature a fold-flat front passenger seat that allows long loads that measure 8.1 feet overall.

Consider also that the Tiguan's trim levels can be priced significantly higher than comparable models. We'd suggest buyers also look at the redesigned Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Rogue, as well as roomier crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. But if you don't mind paying a little more and sacrificing some space for buttoned-down European comfort and refinement, the Tiguan is a top pick.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan is available in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL.

The entry-level S comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels (upgraded to alloy on automatic transmission models), heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, 40/20/40-split rear seats with reclining seatbacks, a trip computer, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary jack. A panoramic sunroof is optional, bringing with it tinted windows.

The SE adds tinted windows, 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, roof rails, foglamps, heated washer nozzles, premium leatherette vinyl upholstery, heated front seats, a power-reclining driver seat with manual height adjustment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an upgraded sound system with a touchscreen interface, six-CD in-dash changer, SD card reader, satellite radio and an iPod interface. Optional is the panoramic sunroof bundled with a navigation system.

The SEL includes all of the above plus 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Tiguan S comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic is optional. The automatic is the only choice for SE and SEL models. Front-wheel drive is standard on all models, and all-wheel drive is available across the board except for S base models with the manual.

In Edmunds performance testing, a front-wheel-drive Tiguan with automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, a quick time for a small crossover and largely equivalent to similar size crossovers fitted with a V6 engine.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive Tiguan with manual transmission is 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. Automatic-equipped models return 21/26/23, while all-wheel-drive models achieve a respectable 20/26/23.

Safety

Standard equipment on the 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

In Edmunds brake testing, the front-wheel-drive Tiguan came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, an average result for the class. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tiguan its top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset, side impact and roof-strength crash protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

Like most vehicles in the VW lineup, the Tiguan features an upscale cabin that approaches Audi levels of quality with its solid craftsmanship (tight panel fitments, deft stitching), soft-touch materials and genuine metal trim. Climate and audio controls are well placed and intuitive, particularly the latest generation of the touchscreen interface. The navigation system is a bit of a letdown, however, as its small screen lacks detailed street names and other information.

Firm front seats -- heated on SE models -- offer ample support on long hauls or nightmare commutes. Rear seat riders have it pretty good, too, with reclining seatbacks and 6 inches of seat travel fore and aft. The three-way split-folding rear seat also allows two rear passengers to sit alongside longer items like skis or snowboards slotted in the pass-through.

Push the rear seats fully forward and the Tiguan can accommodate 23.8 cubic feet of cargo. Fold down the second-row seat and capacity jumps to 56.1 cubes. That's a pretty respectable number for a smaller crossover, though still well shy of the 70-plus cubic feet afforded by the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The front passenger seat also folds fully flat, offering up 98 inches from front to rear.

Driving Impressions

If the 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan doesn't charge ahead as fast as some V6-powered compacts in its class, it makes up for its horsepower deficit with plenty of useful low-end torque. Whether loping around town from stoplight to strip mall or passing a semi at highway speeds, the Tiguan's turbocharged four-cylinder puts power down where it's needed.

The Tiguan also feels confident and poised in the corners, particularly so in the SEL model with its sport suspension. But this is no Mazda CX-5; you won't find the Tiguan bending to your will around corners. But the small crossover still handily blends a firm, sporty ride with urban civility and, in all-wheel-drive configuration, all-weather capability.