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2014 VW Tiguan

Tiguan ranks fourth among Volkswagen’s best selling models in America.

Most Sport Utility Vehicles don’t live up to their segment’s first name.

But for the compact-size 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan, ‘Sport’ is the rule; not the exception.

When Tiguan bowed in 2009, it was billed as “the GTI of SUVs”, referencing the German automaker’s seriously sporty GTI hatchback that spawned the small car ‘hot hatch’ movement 40 years ago.

The fun to drive Tiguan S, SE, SEL and R-Line is powered by a spirited 200 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine shared with Volkswagen GTI.

Managing Tiguan’s power train is a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with standard front or optional all-wheel drive (AWD) Volkswagen calls ‘4Motion’.

All but Tiguan S come with an automatic transmission as standard equipment.

The front drive Tiguan S with standard 6-speed manual at $23,305 delivers 18 miles per gallon in town and 26 mpg on the highway. With optional automatic, 21 mpg/city and 26 mpg/highway is achieved.

Tiguan equipped with AWD heralds 20/26 mpg respectfully.

Handling on all models is agile without sacrifice to ride quality courtesy of an independent suspension that irons out road imperfections for a smooth and comfortable commute across town or family trip cross-country.

“Tiguan is a small version of the midsize Volkswagen Touareg SUV,” says Les Griffith, Volkswagen brand specialist at Team Volkswagen in Merrillville. “The majority of our Tiguan buyers are coming out of a car looking for a small near-luxury SUV. In our region, 50-percent of those buyers choose a Tiguan with 4Motion.”

I tested a front-wheel drive 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SE priced at $29,620.

According to Griffith,  the SE is Team's Tiguan volume leader with a 70-percent take rate by Tiguan buyers.

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Tiguan SE’s interior has a quality look and feel with an ergonomically pleasing instrument panel that features straight forward controls and switch gear.

My 5-passenger SE comes with an Appearance Package ($2,625 value) that provides 18-inch alloy wheels, XM satellite radio, an upgraded audio system with touchscreen interface along with driver and front passenger power reclining seats.

Also included are silver roof rails, fog and cornering lights, a rearview camera and keyless entry with push button start.

Tiguan’s cargo hold is large for a small SUV ranging from 24 to 56 cubic feet of carrying capacity, depending on how the split-fold rear seats with fore and aft slide feature are configured.

The front passenger’s seatback also folds forward for carrying convenience, enough to swallow an 8-foot ladder inside with the lift gate closed.

Looking ahead

Last week, I drove the top-of-the-line 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line 4Motion priced at $39,235 across rolling blacktop in northern Virginia.

For 2015, R-Line’s design changes focus on the rear end with a new bumper treatment and restyled lower valance.

R-Line’s drivetrain remains unchanged with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

Notable changes through the 2015 Tiguan model line include more content brought into lower trim levels with standard rearview camera, roof rails and satellite radio.

A Premium 8 touchscreen radio is standard on S and SE trims, along with Volkswagen’s Car-Net connected services.

Tiguan S is available with heated front seats, while a panoramic sunroof is added to SE with Appearance Package.

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