The VW Tiguan is not a name that springs readily to mind for a lot of compact SUV shoppers, yet, Volkswagen sold 100,000 of them in 2018. In fact, the Tiguan is the most popular VW sold in America. This year Volkswagen redesigned the Tiguan, and made it substantially larger.

The first thing that you notice about the new Tiguan is that it is much longer than its predecessor. It’s grown by nearly a foot. It also looks more substantial, with a taller stance, and more aggressive grille, which mimics that of the midsize VW Atlas.

Inside, Volkswagen used that longer body to increase the second-row legroom, and to squeeze in a third row. (The third row is standard with front-wheel drive Tiguans, and optional with AWD.) As has been the case with other compact SUVs with three rows, there’s not much room in the way-back. Only small children will manage well there. However, compensating for this is a larger cargo area, and is at the top of its class, with up to 73.5 cu-ft. of storage space with seats folded down.

Overall, the interior of the Tiguan is nicely done. The seats are supportive and comfortable. The leatherette material on my test car was first class. The dash features a bright eight-inch touchscreen that is intuitive and very responsive. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard.

Under the hood, Volkswagen installs a new 2.0-liter, turbo four-cylinder engine that generates 184 horsepower—16-hp less than its predecessor. This engine is no ball of fire, and sounds a bit course as well. However, most buyers should find its acceleration adequate. Completing the drive train is an eight-speed automatic transmission that provides the engine with quick upshifts. Gas mileage is projected at 24 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 23 mpg with AWD.

Behind the wheel, the Tiguan does a decent job of smoothing out bumps in the road, and the cabin is reasonably quiet, except under full throttle. However, the athletic handling of the old Tiguan is missing on this new version. The steering, while precise, does not have much feel, and the suspension is not as firm as before, so the new Tiguan leans more in sharp turns. That said, the Tiguan still handles as well as most compact SUVs in its class.

Volkswagen offers the Tiguan in four levels of trim, S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium. The S ($25,495) is pretty basic, but buyers can get advanced safety features, such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning and braking in the $850 Driver Assistance package. The SE ($27,650) is the most popular model, with upgrades like leatherette upholstery, heated seats, an enhanced infotainment system and the Driver Assistance package all standard.

The SEL ($31,990) adds luxury with a panoramic moonroof, navigation, and adaptive cruise control. However, if you want more, the pricey SEL Premium ($37,150) will give you the whole enchilada, including leather seats and a Fender audio system. Both SEL and SEL Premium buyers can order the optional R-Line package that delivers distinctive black trim and larger wheels.

The new Tiguan is a better family hauler now, but, unfortunately, it’s less fun to drive.      

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