Best forFamilies who need flexible cargo storage but, don’t want a vehicle that’s too large
Top BenefitsLots of cargo space, roomy seating, touch-screen dash
Bottom lineThe Volkswagen Tiguan has a roomy interior and wide, comfortable seating that’s ideal for growing families (it also makes car seat installation that much easier). It’s hard to find a crossover SUV with more storage in the rear cargo area. Plus, unlike most crossovers, you can add an optional third row of seating to the Tiguan. The top trim Tiguan Highline feels luxurious at a pretty competitive price point.
Crossover SUVs offer a great mix of cargo area and nimbleness on the road. As your family grows and you’re considering a larger vehicle or even making your first vehicle purchase, you’ll need one that can easily fit a stroller, diaper bags, toys and your family, of course. So we asked families to spend some time behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Tiguan and report back on how it suits their needs. After spending a week with the top-trim Highline model, they were impressed with this crossover SUV, which can easily fit various types of strollers, is chock-full of safety features that increase confidence behind the wheel and boasts attractive styling inside and out. In fact, one of our parent testers loved the Tiguan so much they wished they didn’t have to give it back at the end of their test drive. Our editors were also fans of the drive, roomy interior and flexible options for seating and cargo space.
Safety features used to used to focus largely on preventing injury in the event of an accident, but today’s vehicles are more and more likely to come equipped with technologies to help prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Standard safety features on every Tiguan include electronic stability control to keep the Tiguan moving forward when one of the wheels loses grip, a rearview camera that’s helpful when backing into a tight parking spot or parallel parking on the street and automatic headlights.
The Tiguan also comes with reactive safety features that really impressed our parent testers and editors. Automatic post-collision brakes keep the brakes engaged after an accident until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. In a situation where the driver isn’t conscious or can no longer reach the brake, this will bring the Tiguan to a full stop quickly. The Tiguan also has multiple airbags, including front and side curtain airbags that deploy from the top of the door rails to keep your body from coming in contact with the window—especially helpful if the glass beaks—and these airbags stay engaged in the event of a rollover.
If you opt for the Highline edition, you’ll also get pedestrian monitoring, part of Volkswagen’s Front Assist package, which uses radar to alert the driver and then automatically engages the brakes if an adult or small child steps into the vehicle’s path.
Comfort is measured in two ways—both physically and emotionally—and the Volkswagen Tiguan came up aces in both categories. There’s lots of room in the Tiguan for the driver and all passengers: Legroom is generous in front and rear rows; seats are wide and easy to sink into (great for long rides especially); and the headroom gives passengers a real sense of openness that’s not found in many crossovers. Plus, the rear seats recline for added comfort for adults and teens (you wouldn’t recline a seat if you’ve installed a car seat or booster).
In fact, five adults would be comfortable on extended road trips. Bumps in the road are felt, but it isn’t at a level where you get the sense you’re driving something with a sport-tuned suspension. Shocks keep your car from bouncing on the road, sometimes they’re tuned to be a bit softer and absorb bumps and potholes quite well. Other times they are set to be firmer, which translates into feeling road imperfections more directly. Often vehicles with shocks like these are considered sportier because they help a vehicle go faster around a turn. The Volkswagen Tiguan finds a nice balance between too soft (feeling like you’re on a boat) and overly stiff.
The seats of the Tiguan are soft and wide, allowing you room to spread out while on a long drive. Editors especially enjoyed the generous amount of natural light that floods the Tiguan thanks to its extended side windows and panoramic sunroof (standard or optional on all trims except for the base Trendline model). No matter what seat you’re in, you’re in for a good view.
Finding a comfortable driving position was easy thanks to the multiple ways to adjust the driver’s seat (including lumbar adjustment on the Comfortline and Highline trims) and an adjustable steering wheel that, in addition to being able to lower, raise and move in and out, has a flat bottom—a feature our testers loved because it meant the steering wheel was never hitting their knees.
Cargo space in the Volkswagen Tiguan is ample: With 1,064.7 litres of total volume available in the rear cargo area, it’s one of the leaders in its segment. Each rear seat folds down individually, giving you the option of having one or two passengers in the rear while still being able to load up something long and narrow. Folding the seats down is super easy thanks to a pull tab on the seat, and they go back into position with such little effort that only one hand is required. When folded this way, the seats fold individually, allowing you the flexibility for your desired cargo configuration. If you begin to load things in the back only to realize you need extra storage space, there are two separate levers in the cargo area (one on each side of the car). The lever on the left brings down the second row’s left and middle seat together, while the right-side lever will bring down the remaining seat.
When you need to eke out a little more space, the floor of the rear cargo area can be lowered a few inches. This is done simply by lifting a handhold built into the floor of the cargo area and shifting the floor mechanism into the second available position. It’s setup this way because the cargo floor is nearly flush with the bumper, which makes it easy to get things in and out without having to lift over a lip. When you lower the floor to add extra room, you’ll have to lift items up to clear the lip, but you’ll have the added space.
If you often have your hands full when it comes time to load things into your vehicle, one of the best things about the cargo area in the Tiguan Highline edition is how you get into it: a sensor under the rear bumper opens the liftgate when you wave your foot under it—a real help when you’ve got your hands full. While this feature can be a bit finicky on some vehicles, with the Tiguan, it worked on the first try every time. As with a lot of crossovers, closing the rear liftgate simply requires the press of a button. Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done when you’re lugging groceries or baby gear, or you need both hands to unload a large or heavy item, so in addition to an immediate close button (pretty common among crossovers), the Highline has a delayed close button—a genius feature that our testers and editors love. So long as you have the vehicle’s key on you, you simply push the button, grab your cargo and walk away, and the liftgate closes as the Tiguan senses the key moving away.
The Volkswagen Tiguan uses regular unleaded fuel and delivers fuel economy in line with other crossover SUVs. Volkswagen says that with the Tiguan’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive (standard in all trims except the base model) you should get 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway and 11.3 L per 100 km on the highway. Based on normal driving patterns, you can expect to use about 9.8 L per 100 km. Given the Tiguan’s 60-litre fuel tank, you should net close to 600 km of travel between fill-ups.
One feature that helps boost the fuel economy is Volkswagen’s start/stop technology, which deactivates the engine when you’ve brought the Tiguan to a complete stop and then restarts it when you lift your foot from the brake.
Our parent testers enjoyed driving the Tiguan and found it easy to operate at highway speed and also when manoeuvring in a parking lot. They said the Tiguan was easy to control at highway speeds and the backup camera made getting in and out of tight spots a breeze. Plus, because the windows extend almost to the back of the vehicle, the blind spot is tiny. Add in the included blind spot detection on the Highline and Comfortline models, and you’d be hard-pressed to miss seeing a vehicle around you. These models also include a Front Assist feature, which can sense other vehicles and pedestrians in front of your vehicle, further helping you to prevent an accident.
One of the really nice features that’s exclusive to the Highline model is the digital cockpit navigation system, which is located in the dashboard directly in front of the driver so their eyes don’t have to travel far to check it. Drivers can choose to display the navigation map between the speedometer and tachometer, and parent testers told us this really helped boost their confidence on the road, and our editors agreed, finding the Tiguan comfortable and intuitive to drive.
Installing a car seat in a crossover can sometimes be a challenge. Typically, crossover SUVs sacrifice space in the second row of seating in favour of more legroom for the driver and front-seat passenger and more cargo room in the rear. However, the Volkswagen Tiguan is an exception to the rule.
Our parent testers had no trouble installing a car seat in the Tiguan. They said there was enough room to install a rear-facing car seat without having to move the front passenger seat forward.
When our editors tested car seat installation, they were impressed with how wide the rear door opens—no awkward shifting to get the car seat past the door and frame. Inside the vehicle, the generous head space made it easier to move around during the installation. The rear seats are wide and flat as well, which makes it easy to get the car seat level, and both our editors and parent testers found it easy to access the UAS/LATCH anchors and attach the UAS connectors to them.
Bonus: The wide-opening rear doors and the height of both the Volkswagen Tiguan’s seats and roof made it extra easy to get little ones in and out of car seats—in fact, parents said it was a breeze.
All trim levels of the Tiguan come equipped with front and rear reading lights, height adjusting front seats and carpeted floor mats. Depending on which edition of the Tiguan you purchase lots of leather can go into the production of a Volkswagen Tiguan Highline: the seats, steering wheel, handbrake and gear shift are all leather. If you opt for the Comfortline or Trendline editions, the seats will be leatherette or fabric, respectively. Both the Comfortline and Highline editions have heated cushions and seatbacks on the driver and front-passenger seats, and the Highline gets a heated steering wheel, too.
Our parent testers unanimously agreed the Volkswagen Tiguan is made with high-quality materials, and they were impressed with the tight, secure stitching on the breathable leather seats in the Highline model they tested. Editors, meanwhile, were impressed with the airy interior of the vehicle. Parent testers also reported road and engine noise wasn’t noticeable when driving. The Tiguan was engineered to create a comfortable environment for longer trips—special attention was paid to aerodynamics, material selection and exhaust. They love how much room there is for two adults and two young kids—and everything that comes along with them. The Tiguan Highline and Comfortline trims feature a large panoramic sunroof, adding to its overall airy feeling.
The Tiguan comes outfitted with carpeted mats, but between snacks and the occasional upset stomach, you may want to consider buying rubber mats—$114 is a small price to pay for the ability to quickly and easily hose down the mats and get back on the road.
With the amount of time you’ll spend behind the wheel, it’s understandable that you’d expect a quality entertainment system—one that’s easy to operate, delivers great sound, has options for rear passengers and can connect to your smartphone. Every edition of the Tiguan comes equipped with an LCD touchscreen (six-inch in the Trendline, and eight-inch in the Comfortline and Highline) to operate audio, view the backup camera and connect to devices. The Tiguan supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, which all allow seamless integration of your smartphone and with the entertainment system. Our parent testers were all able to get their smartphone connected, but some found the process a bit more difficult than others. Our editors, however, had no trouble at all connecting an iPhone 7 to the Tiguan’s Bluetooth system.
It’s worth noting that if you opt for the Highline edition, you’ll get an upgraded audio system. The Fender audio system includes a 400-watt amplifier, subwoofer and eight speakers, and our parent testers told us that the additional power in the audio system produced high-quality sound.
The Volkswagen Tiguan has a starting price of $28,925, and the model we tested, the top tier Highline edition, starts at $39,175. The price point is pretty average as far as crossovers go, but you get a lot for your money. The Tiguan has more cargo space than most, its interior feels generous, and while it may not lead its segment in fuel economy, it’s still competitive because you simply don’t get this kind of space in other crossover SUVs. In fact, one parent tester felt the fuel economy was better than they expected given the roominess of the vehicle.
Our editors and testers alike really enjoyed driving the Volkswagen Tiguan. The ride is comfortable, the navigation and audio entertainment systems are simple to operate, and the cargo area more than meets the needs of families. Our parent testers gave the Tiguan very good ratings across the board for quality and ease of use, and they all gave it good or very good ratings for value for money. Our editors, meanwhile, were particularly impressed with how roomy the Tiguan felt (that’s not always the case with crossover SUVs) and how simple it is to configure both the rear seating and cargo area—just what growing families need in a vehicle.
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners