Test Drive: 2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives
2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2010 Volkswagen Tiguan

Toronto, Ontario – Those looking to buy a compact SUV/CUV in the current marketplace are absolutely spoiled for choice. Can you say option-anxiety? Almost every automaker has one on their roster, and they run the gamut from entry-level to the ever-expanding premium segment with vehicles such as the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK 350, Land Rover LR2, Infiniti EX35, Acura RDX, and the BMW X3, which was first to test these waters.

Test Drive: 2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives
2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion. Click image to enlarge

After piloting a 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion for a week, it became quite evident VW has managed to find its own little eddy in this congested pool, offering a premium SUV at not-quite-premium prices. Granted, VW is not exactly giving this top-line Tiguan Highline away with a base of $37,775, but compared to the others in this segment (that generally start in the mid-forties), this well equipped Tiguan could be considered a bargain.

Best of all, it’s a great drive, serving up a motoring experience not unlike that of a jacked-up GTI, which in essence is what the Tiguan is, or at least thinks it is. Nimble handling, alert steering and a general playful disposition are the hallmarks of VW’s compact ute. A very good ride too, showing a well judged balance of body control and compliance.

Having only four cylinders may at first appear as a detriment considering that the competition, save the turbo-four Acura RDX, sport six cylinders; but VW/Audi’s award-winning direct-injection 2.0-litre TSI turbo-four is strong and eager. It makes 200 hp and 207 lb-ft from 1,700 to 5,000 r.p.m., and in the Highline is hooked to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission powering all four corners via permanent 4Motion all-wheel-drive. The engine is a little gravelly in the lower rev range but overall it is a smooth unit that does a commendable job of motivating the Highline’s 1,647 kg (3631 lb.).

Test Drive: 2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives
Test Drive: 2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives
Test Drive: 2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives
2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion. Click image to enlarge

Fuel economy was a bit disappointing at 12.5 L/100 km (23 mpg) – considerably less than I saw in a front-wheel-drive six-speed manual Tiguan I drove last year (9.0 L/100 km/31 mpg). Much of that disparity can be chalked up to 4Motion all-wheel-drive and very cold temperatures. Official figures for the Tiguan Highline are 11.6 L/100 km (24 mpg) city and 8.3 L/100 km (34 mpg) highway. Premium fuel is required.

As with all V-Dubs, the Tiguan is a highway champ, settling into a quiet and rock-solid cruise.

The Tiguan’s interior is simple, yet elegantly designed, and the materials are first rate. All the controls are logically and ergonomically placed and there are lots of useful storage cubbies, including a padded recess on the top of the dash.

This tester, with its Cornsilk Beige – Vienna Leather treatment and “titanium” metallic accents looked nicely upscale. Using the tilt/telescope steering wheel, it’s easy to find a good driving position, and these leather chairs further reinforce my belief that Volkswagen has long held a magic formula for making great seats.

The 60/40 split and sliding rear seats with recline function are comfortable and there is plenty of head and legroom (three abreast is okay for the kids). With a tug of a couple straps they flip down to create a nearly flat and nicely finished load space. The Tig is shorter than many competitors, so space behind the rear seats is not very deep, although its upright architecture ensures there’s plenty of height to work with.

The gigantic panoramic sunroof (Highline standard kit) made the Tig’s upright and airy cabin all the more enjoyable, although a persistent rattle appeared in really cold temperatures. Large review mirrors, good rearward visibility and optional rear-view camera make it a friendly car for the urban jungle.

Test Drive: 2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion volkswagen car test drives
2010 VW Tiguan 2.0T Highline 4Motion. Click image to enlarge

Volkswagen does not scrimp on features in the Highline. You get Bluetooth connectivity, leather multi-function steering wheel and seats (12-way powered driver’s with memory including outside mirrors), auto-dimming interior mirror, compass, automatic headlights with coming home function, rain-sensing wipers, SIRUIS, media and iPod interface, dual-zone climate control, interior lighting package, and the aforementioned sunroof. The Highline is distinguished externally by chrome window surrounds.

This Wild Cherry tester benefited from every available option. The $3,225 Technology Package includes touch-screen navigation with 30-GB hard drive, rear-view camera and 300-watt Dynaudio sound. The $1,450 Sport Package adds silver roof rails, 18-inch “Pasadena” alloys and very good Bi-xenon adaptive headlights that illuminate into the corners. Rear side airbags – that brings the total airbag count to eight – are the only other option at $450.

Other safety items include standard traction control and stability control partnered with four-wheel disc ABS with brake assist, and anti-whiplash head restraints for the front passengers.

This is the Tiguan’s second year on the market, which makes it a real latecomer to the compact SUV/CUV party. But it’s a good one. Solid build, comfortable ride, good visibility, premium appointments and value make it a winner in my books. Plus there’s enough GTI DNA sneaking through here to keep you grinning.

Pricing: 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline 4Motion
  • Base price: $37,775
  • Options: $5,125 (Technology Package $3,225, Sport Package $1,450, rear side airbags $450)
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,580
  • Price as tested: $44,580
    Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

    Specifications
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan

    Competitors
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Acura RDX
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Ford Escape
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 GMC Terrain
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Honda CR-V
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Hyundai Tucson
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Jeep Patriot
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Kia Sportage
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Mazda Tribute
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Nissan Rogue
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Subaru Forester
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Toyota RAV4

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
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