2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline (Chris Chase)
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline (Greg Wilson)

Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

There’s nothing like an extended road trip to get the full measure of a vehicle. First impressions fade, opinions form and then change, and sometimes a new appreciation (or not!) emerges after you get down to the simple business of driving for the long haul.

Our Vancouver-based 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Highline model, and by the map, our two-week road trip included a 1,700-kilometre drive north to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) followed by a 15-hour ferry south to Vancouver Island’s Port Hardy, then another 500-km meandering drive to Nanaimo, from which another ferry deposited us back at our starting point in Vancouver.

We would cover a lot of ground (and water), but apart from our ferries and a tour on Haida Gwaii, our itinerary was unplanned.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline. Click image to enlarge

With a base price of $38,375, the Tiguan Highline arrives with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0L, direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode and “Tiptronic” manual control. The engine makes 200 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and 207 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 rpm, and it requires premium fuel.

Also standard on the Tiguan are 18-inch alloy wheels, leather interior, panorama sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control, but our vehicle added $4,200 worth of options in the form of a $1,900 Sport Package (19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights with LED technology and adaptive front lighting system, flared wheel arches, and sport suspension) and a $2,300 Technology Package (Dynaudio premium audio system, rear park distance control, and navigation system with 30-GB hard drive).

Add freight, pre-delivery inspection, fees and taxes and the MSRP for our 2012 Tiguan was $50,008 out the door.

The Tiguan is Volkswagen’s entry in a compact SUV segment that’s very popular in Canada. Distinguished by its sporty handling, peppy performance and appealing exterior design, the Tiguan has a look that’s quite different than competitive models from the US and Asia. But having been around for a few years, it is on the small side for this type of vehicle, especially when compared with the new 2013 Ford Escape, for example, and even the 2012 Honda CR-V, which is slightly downsized from the 2011 model but still bigger than the Tiguan.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline; bottom photo: the chosen route out of Vancouver. Click image to enlarge

My first impressions of our Pepper Grey Tiguan were that I loved the big chunky wheels, the sporty flared fenders, and the tasteful chrome/aluminum trim, but was surprised by the paucity of cargo space behind the rear seat when the rear liftgate was raised. It turns out the rear seat does slide forward to increase that space, which can be handy but will reduce rear-seat legroom.

Our solution (two adults on this trip, via air from Ottawa) was to fold the rear seats in order to load our two medium sized hockey bags, two carry-on rolling suitcases, two knapsacks and a couple of small bags. This is not a lot by SUV standards, but was sufficient to almost fill the Tiguan, at least at floor level. Much of our luggage consisted of camping gear and rain gear, the latter because all reports pointed to cold and wet weather on the north coast at Prince Rupert and especially on Haida Gwaii.

And so we began. Looking at the map, it appeared that our options for
leaving Vancouver were threefold, via Whistler, Kamloops, or a middle route
to Hope and Cache Creek, thence to 100 Mile House and beyond. We took the less-travelled middle route, but detoured through Lillooet in order to follow the Fraser River for a while, keeping an eye out for a government tourist information facility (of which there are many in BC) where we could pick up brochures, maps and maybe some local knowledge. Planning to camp overnight, we had no immediate destination in mind other than “somewhere around Lillooet.”

With nearly 10,000 kilometres on our press-fleet Tiguan, the vehicle was already fully broken in, and happily settled into a sedate highway cruising speed of about 110 km/h. At this speed the trip computer showed fuel consumption at around 8.2 L/100 km, which we never bettered (the “official” numbers are 9.8/7.4 L/100km, city/highway for the AWD Tiguan).

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