Strength of Volkswagen Tiguan is engine, handling

By composition, compact sport-utility vehicles offer a blend of function and versatility. Working on a budget? Here you go. Need to do some light hauling? The cargo areas provide sizable access. Want easier entry/exit than a sedan offers? Slide on in.

The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan touches on all of these points. But where the Tiguan stands out in the crossover category is in the old-school measurement of engine capability and road manners.

The only engine is a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that stands up to the competition in this class. Equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission, it is quick off the line with negligible turbo lag and is a solid highway cruiser. The Tiguan also handles curves with aplomb. As far as strengths go, these are noteworthy. Wait. There’s more.

Inside the Tiguan driver and passengers will both find plusses. The driver can utilize the standard infotainment system with 6.3-inch screen, Bluetooth and VW Car-Net App Connect. There are steering wheel audio controls. Materials are of good quality all around. Passengers can enjoy leatherette seats, decent head room and good views of the outside from the high perch.

Tiguans come in four trims, each with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The base S trim with FWD starts at $24,995 (AWD is $1,975 at each level). Next are the Wolfsburg Edition ($30,095) that replaces the R-Line from 2016, Sport ($32,605), which replaces an SE trim, and SEL ($34,500). For the most part, this year’s models closely resemble the initial Tiguans from 2009. When the 2018s come in, there are expected to be marked changes if this year’s European rollout is any indication.

We drove an all-wheel drive Wolfsburg, which comes with unique badging, floor mats and a panoramic sunroof.

One area that the Tiguan does not measure up to many of its competitors is with a smallish rear cargo area of 23.8 cubic feet, although that can be expanded to 56.1 cubic feet when the seats are folded.

If big loads are not necessarily your thing, though, and you want to get the most driving enjoyment out of a compact SUV, the Volkswagen Tiguan deserves a look.

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