Volkswagen is in the midst of a revamp of its North American offerings. The U.S.-built, midsize Passat, compact Jetta and subcompact Beetle still lead the lineup, but the Routan minivan will be fleet-only starting in 2014-MY. The sporty Golf and GTI will be produced in limited numbers with fewer configurations.
There will be no such restrictions placed on the Touareg or Tiguan, the OEM’s midsize and compact crossover SUVs. In fact, VW has doubled down on the Tiguan, which gets a complete redesign and an “R-Line” performance package in 2014.
The R-Line is powered by the same 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four as the S, SE and SEL editions. But the new edition adds a sport-tuned suspension and a unique appearance package that includes 19-inch wheels, distinctive bumpers, side skirts and a rear spoiler.
VW’s “4motion” all-wheel drive is available for any model. A six-speed manual transmission is available only on the S and only with front-wheel drive. The Tiguan’s fuel economy doesn’t lead the class, but it is remarkably consistent across the lineup.
For the most part, the exterior styling carries over from the prior generation. VW maintained the Tiguan’s classy, somewhat minimalist appearance, leaving any suggestion of off-road utility to the larger Touareg.
The Tiguan is available with a tow package and can pull up to 2,200 pounds. That easily beats the towing capacity of competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4; however, both models outdo the Tiguan in cargo space.
The cabin was redesigned but, like the exterior, it closely resembles the 2013 version. The Tiguan’s distinctive panoramic sunroof returns as an option on the S and SE and standard equipment on the SEL and R-Line. The base model comes with an eight-speaker stereo system, cruise control, a trip computer and Bluetooth connectivity.
The SE and SEL add features such as 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, iPod connectivity and a touchscreen infotainment center with satellite and HD radio. The R-Line brings the aforementioned extras as well as interior styling cues, leather seats, power driver’s seat, upgraded headlights and more.
Fun fact: the Tiguan was named as part of a magazine contest. The name combines the German words for “tiger” and “iguana.” The 2014 edition is available now. Prices start at $22,995 for the base S and top out at $36,535 for the R-Line.