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2022 Volkswagen Tiguan First Drive: It Won’t Be Easy

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Auto123 gets in a first test drive of the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON – Like just about every automaker, German giant Volkswagen is in the midst of turning its massive ship in direction of electric mobility. The recent introduction of the ID.4 crossover marks a crucial inflection point for Volkswagen, the first serious step on the way to a largely – and eventually completely – electric lineup. Thing is, to pull off this massive shift, VW still needs its gasoline-powered vehicles to help finance the whole thing.

The addition of the Taos earlier this year should help with that, but equally important is the lineup’s top gunslinger, which has led brand sales for several years now. Launched in 2018, the second iteration of the Tiguan compact SUV was reaching a point where it needed a bit of a facelift to stay in the game, especially in a category so large and competitive.

And so we have the Tiguan, revised for 2022 and already arriving in dealerships across the country. Last week, alongside the brand's two pocket rockets, the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R, Volkswagen's Canadian division also had the new Tiguan on site and available for a test drive. Given the importance of this SUV in North America, that only made sense.

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2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, front
Photo: Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, front

Changes in front, in back and even inside
Right off the bat, we have to say the new face of the Tiguan is a little more attractive, especially with the larger grille and chrome trim around the lower grilles for the R-Line editions, which the model's other trims don’t get.

Note that the model we tested was a Highline version that comes standard with the R-Line package, which is now available in a less-expensive trim, called Comfortline Black Edition, with several darkened details; this variant sits on the second-top rung of the model range ladder, below the Highline.

The presence of new 20-inch wheels, a first for the Canadian edition of the Tiguan, also gives the crossover a presence that’S more assertive than before. The 17-inch (Trendine), 18-inch (Comfortline) and 19-inch (Comfortline Black Edition) wheels are also new for 2022.

Finally, the rear gets a new bumper design, with fake chrome exhaust pipes on both sides. With these few additions, we find that the most-expensive Tiguan looks good - a little better than the other models anyways.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, rear
Photo: Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, rear

More-assertive drive
The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan didn't exactly storm the market when it arrived. For that, we can probably blame the driving experience, which was inferior to that of its predecessor. The powertrain didn't have the same aplomb as the first Tiguan, and it had to propel a heavier and more-imposing vehicle.

For 2022, the same 2.0L turbocharged mill actually remains in place, and it retains the same 8-speed automatic transmission (though with 4Motion all-wheel drive now standard). But VW’s engineers have made some tweaks to the powertrain, particularly in terms of its sound or response.

Without saying that the Tiguan is a transformed SUV, I will venture that this first contact with the vehicle revealed a livelier, more-dynamic creature. The automatic transmission's gears flow more smoothly and the response time is shorter when your foot’s on the right pedal. As for the sound, it's not bad for a family SUV, though don’t kid yourself, we're not talking about a Golf GTI!

With the 20-inch wheels, the Tiguan is certainly more agile in corners, but you have to remember what class this crossover belongs to. In fact, despite this small gain in power under the hood - especially in Sport mode - the 2022 Tiguan is no warrior. It's still surprising that Volkswagen isn't considering a more powerful engine for its compact SUV.

On the other hand, the flat-bottomed R-Line steering wheel is very pleasant to hold, and while the steering doesn't offer as direct a connection to the pavement as in VW's sporty cars, still, there are worse options to drive in the segment.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, interior
Photo: Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, interior

More equipment on board
A mid-cycle redesign also usually means more equipment at more trim levels, and so it is with the 2022 Tiguan. There are new and better materials in the cabin, new colours, a new gearshift lever, customizable ambient lighting and touch buttons for climate control.

In addition to 4Motion all-wheel drive, LED headlights, Digital Cockpit screen behind the steering wheel and heated steering wheel are all standard in 2022, on all trims. The Tiguan can also be delivered for the first time with heated rear seats or ventilated front seats, while the availability of driver assistance systems is more wide-ranging than in the past.

Also, did you know that you can configure your Tiguan with a third bench seat for when you have to move a crowd in an emergency? Priced at $800, this extra row puts the Tiguan on a par with the Mitsubishi Outlander, which also offers that option.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, profile
Photo: Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, profile

The last word
While we wait for the electric shift – VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant will be operational next year - the updated 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan will certainly help the German automaker’s fortunes in a market outrageously dominated by SUVs. The 2022 improvements are more than welcome and make for an improved product. But competition in the segment is fierce and consumers are spoiled for choice - just look at the long list of direct rivals below for proof.

Let's just say it won't be easy for the Tiguan!

We like

The more elegant style (R-Line package)
The steering wheel is comfortable to hold
The slightly smoother mechanics

We like less

The driving experience is still too aseptic
About 20 horsepower are missing
The touch-sensitive air conditioning buttons are difficult to use

The competition

Chevrolet Equinox
Ford Escape / Bronco Sport
GMC Terrain
Honda CR-V
Hyundai Tucson / Santa Fe
Kia Sportage
Jeep Cherokee / Compass
Mazda CX-5
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester / Outback
Toyota RAV4

Pricing

..VersionMSRP
 Trendline$32,995 CAD
 Comfortline$36,795 CAD
 Comfortline R-Line Black$39,495 CAD
 Highline R-Line$42,995 CAD

 

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Lines lined up
Photo: Volkswagen
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Lines lined up

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Photos:Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line pictures