2010 VW Tiguan

Volkswagen defines the “cute ute” term with their Tiguan.

The compact CUV is not front of mind when people think of premium vehicles in this segment, but after spending a week inside the top-of-the-line Highline model its public image should drastically change in the next few years with the proper marketing.

Its design won’t turn heads, but the exterior styling is very pleasant and amiable. The front end, with the large VW emblem and chrome bars extending from it, makes it stand out and seem larger than it is. A quick peek around the corner tells the real story though – it’s a small body with attractive lines down the side, giving way to a cute backend that gently slopes over a few ripples to the bottom.

The simplicity of the design allows it to transition from scenes of everyday driving to something a bit sportier without too many questions.
Inside it’s surprisingly spacious – although competitors like the Acura RDX and BMW X3 have more cargo space.

Paired to a six-speed transmission with Tiptronic, the 2.0L turbocharged engine provides enough gusto. However, even with 200 HP, it feels a bit weak when powering up steep hills – especially when compared to the superior driving qualities of the RDX and X3 – but it becomes king on highways, providing one of the most silent rides I’ve had in quite some time.

The Highline trim includes all the amenities you’d expect – power everything, leather interior, rain sensing wipers, chrome details and more – plus the tech package adds navigation, touch screen with 30 GB hard drive and rearview camera.

But the biggest selling point is the price. The Tiguan Highline starts at $37,775, making it very competitive compared to the RDX (base model starts at $39,990) and X3 (base is $39,900). And if you want to step down, the base Tiguan Trendline begins at $27,875 competing with the likes of the Mazda CX-7, Nissan Rogue and Hyundai Santa Fe.

With its versatility – in style, performance and price – the Tiguan is one of the best places to start when looking for a CUV.

-Travis Persaud