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2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Truly Just The Right Size>

“You’re the first to review this car,” said the service provider. Big shoes to step into. Learn how the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL reacts in the real world and don’t mess it up for the next driver. Yep, that’s my job.

We were headed to Phoenix for a weekend of NHRA racing, a six-hour drive along US 10 that’s mind-numbing, so it’s always nice to have a horse for this course that’s comfortable, has sufficient power, a good audio system and hopefully a sunroof to see if the CHP or the Arizona Highway Patrol are in the sky looking for us.
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This VW fit all those bills and more. The Tiguan is Volkswagen’s small SUV and is not too small, not too large, but truly just right. It’s got VW’s permanent 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with a center differential to allow it off-road capabilities, but most of us will keep it happily on the tarmac.

The 2-liter inline, turbocharged, intercooled and direct-injected gasoline engine emits 200 horsepower at 5100-6000 and 207 lb-ft of torque between 1700-5000 rpm; engine redline is 6000 rpm. VW fits a 6-speed (easily) shiftable automatic transmission to the Tiguan and, despite its 3591 pounds curb weight as equipped, the VW Tiguan SEL scoots nicely from stoplights and when climbing hills.
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The rack and pinion electric power assisted steering has a pinch of on-center vagueness but does not ruin the wonderful ride of this SUV, which boasts front struts with lower control arms and coil springs and rear multilink/coil spring suspension to keep it tracking well. Brakes are exceptionally quick to respond and fade-free.

While mileage for this car is 21/26/23 from the 16.8-gallon tank, I’m sure most any driver can do better. Because of the low mileage (just under 900 miles) at pickup, every tank load was better than the next, but since VW requires premium fuel, it can get a little expensive. By the time our near-1200-mile excursion was complete, we were getting close to 29 mpg over the road, traveling just a smidge over the speed limit.
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There are no options on the SEL model driven here and it clocks in at $33,535 including freight. For that you get a very complete machine. Sure the seats are manually adjustable (including lumbar), but that saves weight; this built-in-Germany VW continues to have manual headlight operation as well, forcing the driver to communicate with the vehicle – what a concept! Our Reflex silver metallic Tiguan has black leatherette inside and it looks quite sturdy – if leather and power seats are a necessity, check out the R-Line model instead.

For long drives, this VW is truly comfortable; even after a four-hour stint I arrived refreshed. The seats are very comfortable, all controls do fall readily to hand and all features are extremely useful. Take the navigation screen, for instance. It’s a bit smaller than some but it’s very clear and all controls are intuitive. Pairing a phone in the Tiguan is easily accomplished in about a minute. The proximity key opens and locks doors and hatch using touch pads; the hatch is an easy reach and is covered to hide all the goodies necessary for a race weekend. VW cites 23.8 cubic feet of space with all seats in place and a whopping 56.1 cubes with rear seats folded.

There’s ample space for three in the back seat and VW equips the Tiguan with ventilation for those in the rear, who sit higher than front-seat occupants. There’s a 60/40 fold and a pass-through for larger objects. I noted very little in the way of blind spots on the Tiguan and loved the very crisp and clear backup camera on this vehicle. The cruise control can easily be ratcheted up and down on the left stalk and the trip computer on the right side of the steering wheel is simple to work and easy to use. Audio controls are on the left.
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There’s a large glovebox – I managed to fit a pro camera body inside – and very small central storage with iPod cord. The grippy open access at the base of the central stack is good for keeping a phone handy.

I adored the huge sunroof that has a large front opening and glass covering nearly the entire roofline. A handsome mesh cover keeps the sunroof from baking the car’s interior and being able to move the roof from closed through various open steps to wide-open sky was a delight.

I liked the Continental P235/50R 18-inch tires with 10-spoke alloy rims. They looked like they were keeping the brakes even cooler than expected.
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A week and nearly 1200 miles sure gives a driver the opportunity to find out what’s good and not so good about any vehicle. It’s hard to find any faults with this 2014 VW Tijuan SEL – so I won’t! If this type of vehicle is what you’re looking for, make sure the Tijuan is prime on the shopping list. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Words and Photos By Anne Proffit and Editor Christina Selter