A second generation was first introduced to other markets around the world in 2016, but Canada won't get its proper next-gen Tiguan until the 2018 model year.
There's no two ways about it - the Volkswagen Tiguan is getting on in years. It's still selling in the tens of thousands in Canada, though it's far below some other segment stalwarts. It's still not really in the collective consciousness of Canadians - be honest, when was the last time you heard someone sing the praises of the Tiguan before first mentioning the RAV4 or CR-V?
A second generation was first introduced to other markets around the world in 2016, but Canada won't get its proper next-gen Tiguan until the 2018 model year, and based on reaction it has received after showing up on this year's auto show circuit, it could legitimately make some noise in the segment. In the meantime, the current Tiguan will have to do, though what exactly does it do better than its competitors? We go in search of the answers.
Drives like a smaller vehicle - The 2017 Tiguan is much more "sport" than it is "utility," which is great if you're shopping for a crossover that can handle being tossed around on occasion. Competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue are doubling-down on things like technology (and who are we kidding - that's what customers these days really want), giving the more compact Tiguan the edge when it comes time to leave the grocery store parking lot.
Power ranger - The Tiguan is no stranger to turbocharged engines, using them since the beginning in Canada almost a decade ago. Although competitors such as the CR-V and Ford Escape are starting to come around when it comes to forced induction powerplants, the Tiguan's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo - which makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque - is still more powerful than a lot of engines in this segment. There was some noticeable turbo lag, but once things were wound up, the Tiguan was a blast to drive.
No-nonsense interior - You can always rely on the German car companies to put together well-thought-out cabins, and the Tiguan is no exception. Everything, from window and mirror controls to the numerous vents and HVAC controls, are a cinch to find and even easier to control/adjust. It ain't flashy, but I'm all for form following function - and not the other way around - when it comes to vehicle interiors.
Where are u(tility)? The whole "smaller than your average crossover" thing I mentioned earlier comes back to haunt the Tiguan. Take a quick gander at competitors' dimensions, and you'll see virtually every one larger than VW's offering, both inside and out. The centre pass-through and virtually flat-loading rear seats (and front passenger seat!) help when it comes to loading large-ish items, but longer getaways with larger families could make for an uncomfortably packed vehicle, really quick.
Not-so-comfortable living. My biggest beef with the 2017 Tiguan may be that I simply never found myself comfortable in the driver's seat. I've experienced entry-level vehicles with more soft touch surfaces than this Volkswagen, and no matter how many times I tried readjusting my seat, I never found a truly pleasing position. And as mentioned earlier, smaller interior dimensions all around meant I couldn't wait to stretch out after a drive.
Why go Wolfsburg? My test vehicle was the new-for-2017 Wolfsburg Edition trim (which replaces last year's Special Edition), and like so many "special edition" vehicles on the market these days, I don't really understand the appeal. The Wolfsburg trim - named after the German city and manufacturing plant where the Tiguan is built - is the third-most expensive of the four trims available for 2017, but beyond upgrades from the lowest trim that include leatherette seating surfaces, a rear-view camera, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration, and a better infotainment system, the Wolfsburg model just adds a few badges - can you see me giving a huge *shrug* here? Being only the second Tiguan trim, it jumps up thousands of dollars in price, though admittedly it does offer a lot of stuff.
Photos: Daniel Barron / Motor1 Canada