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VW Tiguan ups styling, comfort, 3rd row

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The all-new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is a much-improved compact SUV that now offers more aggressive styling, a roomier cabin, available third-row seating, hands-free power liftgate, advanced safety & infotainment technologies, and an impressive warranty.

Blurring the lines between the compact and mid-sized SUV classes, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is 10.6 inches longer and offers up to 58 percent more cargo space than its predecessor.

While it competes in the compact segment, the new Tiguan looks and feels more like a mid-size SUV.

The 2018 VW Tiguan inherits similar styling cues to the popular and larger Atlas. I do prefer the new Tiguan’s wider and lower stance, and sharper character lines over the previous model’s tall and rounded physique.

It is this significantly more appealing design that I believe will help it garner more attention. Also helping its cause is new three-row seating and a fantastic 6-year/72,000 mile Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty that is transferrable to subsequent owners.

With a long list of standard and available amenities, and a modest entry price ($24,595), the 2018 VW Tiguan delivers impressive value in this segment.

The new Tiguan is offered in four trim levels; S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium. All trims can be had with front-wheel drive (FWD) or with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD).

Three-row seating is standard in FWD models, and an option for AWD models. The 50/50 split-folding third-row bench is difficult navigating to and from, and offers very tight quarters for two passengers. It is best suited for younger ones.

Three-row models have a very small cargo area (12 cubic-feet) behind the third row. It does open up to 33 cubic-feet with the third-row folded, and 65.7 cubic-feet with second- and third-rows folded.

Those who prefer more cargo capacity should opt for two-row model. It offers a voluminous 37.6 cubic-feet behind the second-row and 73.5 cubic-feet with the second-row seats folded.

The standard 40/20/40 split-folding second-row bench seats in all Tiguan models recline and slide seven inches fore and aft.

There is noticeably more leg room up front and in the second-row of the new Tiguan. The cabin looks and feels more refined, and remains pleasantly quieter than before.

Controls are easy to reach and operate, and the cockpit is nicely decorated. Base Tiguan S models feature a 6.5-inch color touchscreen while higher level models include an 8-inch color touchscreen.

Newly available advanced technologies include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Forward Collision Warning with Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist.

Powering all 2018 VW Tiguan models is a revised turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 184 horsepower. It makes a bit less power than last year but fuel efficiency has been improved to 22/27 mpg city/highway for FWD models and 21/27 mpg city/highway for AWD models.

Unfortunately, this engine is a bit too weak for my liking. Acceleration from a stop is sluggish, especially when loaded down with passengers. Pushing the pedal down for passing at highway speeds is also disappointing.

AWD models feature VW’s latest generation of 4Motion that decouples the rear wheels under certain conditions and automatically sends power to them when required.

The new Tiguan delivers a well-behaved ride that is tuned more for comfort than sport. It is a significantly improved vehicle with many likable attributes, but its sluggish engine might be a deal-breaker.