Oh, What "Fun?"

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion
2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion. All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan

There are vehicles out there that speak to the fun quotient in all of us.

Seriously, when you shopped for your last vehicle, it did cross your mind about where it would fit in your lifestyle? The word "fun" did come up in various conversations leading up to the pen marks on the multitudes of paperwork you went through to get the keys to your new ride.

Admit it, you bought your current vehicle because it could be an escape from your routine. In your mind, you had trips to take it on, events to attend and other things considered "fun" in your life. The memories one has when traversing around in your vehicle in the good name of "fun."

The bonus would be if your vehicle looked the part. You could walk out your door, get the keys out and gaze at it. It speaks to you – "look at me! I'm fun!"

What vehicles can you think of that actually do look like fun – and drives like it!

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion

This is the first reaction I had to the revised 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan. This German compact crossover really looks like "fun." It could be "fun" to drive. You could go to some "fun" places in it and have some "fun" along the way.

The fun begins with its overall look. It speaks "Volkswagen" up front with its current design language. From the grille, there are a few things to consider. The bumper is quite high up front with a huge under-slope that appears to allow for an approach angle. Still, it is unmistakably Volkswagen.

From the front wheels rearward is where you will find some marked differences. It is a tall profile that has some huge doors that open wide for everyone. The Tiguan features a ground clearance that most crossovers wished they had. However, one might question the squat appearance aft of the rear doors before you get to the huge liftgate. The SE version of the Tiguan rides on eighteen-inch alloy rims with Continental tires keeping the things on the road.

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion

Space for passengers is also generous. Front seat occupants will find loads of space for any body, as would rear seat passengers. Sitting on these V-Tex seats are a different story. They are not entirely comfortable with a hint of bolstering for front seat occupants. In the SE model, there is a mix of both manual and power adjustments, including lumbar support. The rear seats are slightly better, as they big and accommodating, but with the same hint of bolstering keeping passengers locked in.

Volkswagen offers a minimalist design for its instrument panel, but with large dials and a good touch screen for the audio system. The center screen in-between the speedometer and tachometer informs you of fuel economy, trip, vehicle, audio and telephone information on the road. There is a bit of a learning curve on some switches – with the cruise control on the turn signal stalk, and the steering wheel controls for connecting your phone with the Bluetooth system.

On this SE model, SiriusXM was available, along with Bluetooth streaming and a cable for your iPhone 4/4S into the console.

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion

The engine is a good one. It is Volkswagen's corporate 2.0liter turbocharged TSI four-cylinder, putting out 200 horsepower with 207 pound-feet of torque. Though it is the same as the one under the GTI's hood, do not expect the same performance as the hot hatch. It is a strong engine designed for the light hauling the Tiguan will provide.

A six-speed Tiptronic gearbox keeps the TSI engine in line with smooth and solid shifts. The shifter is short and quite quick in response to your hand. Volkswagen’s 4Motion is a good system in the wet and other not-so-agreeable conditions. You can hardly feel it work – which is a very good thing.

Because it is a crossover, Volkswagen felt it was right to make the Tiguan ride pretty soft and solid. It does it best absorbing road imperfections and bumpy roads, but it could not help to transmit the worst of these conditions through the cabin. Handling is OK, with plenty of roll and lean through the curves. Brakes work well in both normal and panic stops. Steering is also decent with a bit of lightness to the feel, yet a sharp turning radius.

With the TSI under the hood, fuel economy turned out to be decent. At 24.7MPG, it is not exactly efficient, but within the acceptable range for compact crossovers.

Pricing for the Tiguan actually starts off nicely at around $23,000. That only gets you the base S model with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive only. The SE tester came with the Appearance package came to $31,575 – which is on the high side of the more popular compact crossovers. For the ultimate Tiguan, select the R-Line with a lower stance, sportier tires and wheels for about $38,490.

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion

We often view the compact crossover/SUV class as an assortment of "fun" vehicles for not-so-large families, couples or even single folks with an adventure streak or needing something to haul a lot more than a suitcase around. However, there are plenty of the Tiguan's rivals that have become serious. There is a serious side of the VW, too. It will go about its business as well as its rivals, even at a slight premium of a price.

The Tiguan does plenty of things quite well. Perhaps it is worth considering, especially if you are looking for some "fun."

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Volkswagen of America

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