2009 Volkswagen Tiguan review: No diesel but still a cool cat-lizard

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

By now all the tiger/iguana jokes have been told at the Volkswagen Tiguan’s expense, but it’s hardly anyone’s fault but VW’s for naming their compact SUV after an improbable feline-reptile crossbreed.
Debuting as a 2009 model, the Tiguan is a Volkswagen’s punchline to the compact SUV question.

Neat and tidy on the outside with a distinctively VW face, the Tiguan matches the exterior with the conservative but stylish interior. Front and rear seats are comfortable, and while the rear seatbacks do fold forward to increase cargo capacity, they don’t make a flat cargo floor. The rear seats slide six inches forward and back to optimize rear legroom or cargo capacity, depending on the need of the moment. An optional panoramic sunroof is available for, as VW puts it, “almost 13 square feet of sunshine.”

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan dash

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan dash us simple and workmanship-like. (click to enlarge)

With a curb weight of 3600 lbs, the Tiguan is not a lightweight, but the turbocharged 2.0T, the only engine available in the States, makes 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. That’s good enough, according to Volkswagen, for 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds with the six-speed automatic transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive, as tested. The Tiguan is also available with front wheel drive with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. The manual transmission is not available with all-wheel drive.

The Volkswagen Tiguan has fully independent front suspension and four-link suspension at the rear. Ride is well controlled and cornering good considering the high center of gravity of an SUV. Stability control is standard.

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan cargo area is compact but grows with the rear seatbacks folded forward. (click to enlarge)

No diesel engine option is available in the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan, nor is one planned for 2010. That’s surprising, perhaps, considering the success that Volkswagen has had with diesel engines in other models. Why no diesel with the Tiguan, especially after Volkswagen added the V-6 diesel Touareg 3.0 TDI?

The Tiguan gets no diesel simply because of the stringent U.S. emissions regulations. While Volkswagen offers diesel Tiguans in other markets, putting a diesel engine in a Tiguan for America would require use of the expensive AdBlue system as used in the Touareg. The largest vehicle size before needing AdBlue to meet emissions regulations is the Jetta 2.0 TDI. And it’s that cost of the elaborate urea injection and control system that mitigates against a diesel-powered Tiguan.

So in a way, the joke’s on us. Despite obvious environmental advantages of diesel power, environmental regulations restrict diesel applications. In the meantime, in a field flooded with domestic and Japanese compact SUVs—none diesel though several hybrid—the Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T has a lot to offer, and that’s no joke.


2009 Volkwswagen Tiguan 2.0T 4Motion selected specifications
Layout Front engine, transverse/all-wheel drive, unit body construction
Engine 2.0L/200 hp DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4
Displacement, cc 1984
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Construction, block / head Cast iron / aluminum
Fuel delivery Direct injection
Recommended fuel Premium unleaded
Horsepower @ rpm 200 @ 5100 – 6000
Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 207 @ 1700 – 5000
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Steering, type Rack & pinion, electro-mechancial power assist
Turning circle, ft
Suspension, front / rear Macpherson strut w/ lower A-arm / four-link independent
Brakes, type, disc dia, f / r in 4-wheel disc, 12.3 / 11.3
Wheels, size, type 7.0 x 17,  alloy
Tires, size, type 235/55R17
Dimensions & capacities
Length, in. 174.3
Width, in. 71.2
Height, in. 66.4
Wheelbase, in. 102.5
Ground clearance, in. 6.9
Curb weight, lbs 3,631
Towing capacity, max, lbs 2,200
Payload, lbs 1,330
Cargo cap., cu ft., seat up / down 23.8 / 56.1
Fuel tank, U.S. gal. 16.8
0-60 mph, sec. 7.9
Top speed, mph 129, electronically limited
Fuel economy, EPA mpg, city/hwy 18 / 24

Features and prices next page.

2009 Volkswagen Tiguan SE AWD, selected features and prices

Base price $26,925
Exterior: Fog lights, power/heated mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles std.
Interior: Cruise control, floor mats, trip computer, AM/FM/CD/Sat/MP3 8-speaker audio, front, front, full side-curtain airbags, heated 8-way partial pwer driver seat, heated 8-way manual passenger seat, sliding rear seat, leather multi-function tilt-and-lelescope steering wheel, power windows w/ one-touch operation, std.
Mechanical: ABS, Stability, traction control, electronic dfferential lock, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution std.
Power sliding panoramic sunroof 1,300
Navigation system, 6.5-in. hi-res screen, 30 gb hard drive, WMA, MP3, video DVD, SD memory card slot, aux, USB, rearview camera 1,950
Rear passenger side airbag 350
Delivery 750
Total price $30,275