Key Takeaways

  • The best model year for the Volkswagen Tiguan is 2019.
  • The Volkswagen Tiguan years to avoid are the first generation (2009 - 2014).
  • The Tiguan is VW’s offering for compact SUVs and has not sold until the launch of the third generation for the 2018 model year.

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When the VW Tiguan was introduced, it quickly became a darling among SUV owners, but it didn’t sell well. If you are looking at a used one, what year is best?

Most review sites rate the VW Tiguan as one of the least reliable cars on the market. Since the beginning of 2009 (in the US market), Consumer Reports has only rated one year with high-reliability ratings, which was 2019. Interestingly, the same model scores 1 out of 5 in owner satisfaction.

If you shop for a used Volkswagen Tiguan, you might be surprised to see how much negative press this little SUV has generated over the years. Frankly, most online reviews are just plain awful. In some ways, the pushback is warranted because since being introduced in the American market in 2009, the compact SUV has encountered more than its fair share of problems. Sales could have been better, averaging around 25k units a year, (just recently in the last few years). To VW’s credit, they stuck with the model, and with the advent of the third generation in 2018, the Tiguan has been gaining some traction (selling over 100k SUVs each year). So, what is the best year for Volkswagen Tiguan? Are there years to avoid? This article will help you research this compact SUV to determine if any model year should be purchased. Let’s review this peppy little SUV to see if we can’t provide you with enough information to decide whether the car is best for you or your family.

Table of Contents

A Brief History Of The VW Tiguan

The Tiguan found a place in Europe when it was first offered. While it wouldn’t begin US sales until a few months later, the SUV was overpriced. VW strategized that the SUV would appeal to the luxury market, but compared to its rivals, sales were flat. American buyers didn’t want to pay the price of an Audi or Lexus for an imported Volkswagen with fewer features.

The first generation of the compact SUV was powered by a direct-injected 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder that produced 197 hp and sipped fuel at 21 mpg combined. While the SUV got decent early reviews, especially for its upgraded interior, the final line of MotorTrend’s early review of the 2009 Tiguan said it all when it surmised that “the Tiguan is an outstanding first effort, but it may be too pricey….”

The Tiguan got a facelift in 2012, but that didn’t help sales much. The headlights were more angular, and the front end conformed to a style more closely shared with the Passat and Golf. Engine performance was enhanced, and the steering wheel was updated, but owners were still not impressed. Early ratings from safety agencies were very positive (IIHS front crash ratings were 5-star), but the most VW could muster from sales that year was a pitiful 32k unit. VW muddled on for a couple of years before introducing the second generation in 2017 for the ‘18 model year in the US).

The second generation of the Tiguan (2018 MY) saw some significant changes, including adding an SEL Premium trim level. The 2.0 TSI four-cylinder engine was mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle was offered as a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive model and in both five-seat and seven-seat units with a third row. The company slashed the new model's price and found that sales skyrocketed.

VW announced to the US public in 2017 that it would continue to sell the previous model Tiguan along with the new generation, and to distinguish between the two, it renamed the older version Tiguan Limited. Whether this was an attempt to clear out old stock, or just a weird attempt to continue to push the outdated older version onto buyers, the Limited didn’t sell and was soon discontinued after 2018.

The Tiguan was given a major update in 2022, with refined cabin space, increased cargo room, and much more tech than before. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a new infotainment complex highlighted the updates and the new IQ Drive safety components. The new driver assistance features, like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear park assist, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking. The turbocharged engine was held over from the previous model year, but third-row seating was no longer offered on the AWD model.

Volkswagen is working on a third generation of the compact SUV, which is expected to be released in 2024.

What Is The Best Year For The Tiguan?

There is much debate about what years are best for the Volkswagen Tiguan. Many review sites feel that the 2009 - 2013 Tiguans are the best to purchase, but others do not bear that out, suggesting that the second generation is better (2018 - 2022). Considering that the second-generation vehicles have better safety, driver’s features, and fewer models, our vote would be for a more recent Tiguan if we had to choose.

Since its introduction in 2009, Consumer Reports has indicated that there has only been one year since Tiguan scored high-reliability marks. The 2019 scored a 5 out of 5 mark for the model year (although it also scored a 1 out of 5 for owner satisfaction for the same model year).

The model earned a Top Safety Pick Plus from the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety). The Tiguan joined the GTi as the second VW model to receive the award for that year, primarily due to its six airbags and a slew of new safety features.

In the CR review, the high-reliability score is based on “better” marks for engine rebuild and repair, along with fewer electrical and coolant issues. Most owner reviews complimented the luxurious premium interior and advanced tech and driver features, but some found the engine noisy and underpowered. While performance numbers are less than most competitors, the safety features and fuel economy scored well enough to help balance things out. Vehicle History offers an overall score of 7 out of 10.

What Are the Features Of The 2019 VW Tiguan?

The following paragraphs review some of the features found on the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan. It is considered to be a dependable vehicle offering well-mannered ride quality.


The exterior styling was a radical approach for the Tiguan using the MQB platform, which had not been used on an SUV before. The new generation of Tiguan had an increased width and length to give the vehicle a more SUV appearance than a crossover. The SUV was given elongated headlights, a wider bumper, and new taillight treatments. With body-colored mirrors, solid-colored front and rear bumpers, and 18-inch rims, the SUV has an athletic look as it moves down the roadway. Tinted glass helped to give an upscale appearance.


The powerplant for the 2019 Tiguan was a 2.0L TSI DOHC four-cylinder engine. The engine produced 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy numbers were 21 city and 29 hwy. In comparison, the engine received some reports of being underpowered, with slow acceleration.


The interior is where the 2019 Tiguan shines, with increased room for front and rear seat passengers. Cloth seating surfaces were standard for the base model, but the SE and SEL models have leatherette, and the top-of-the-line trim SEL Premium had a leather interior.

The dash is simple and practical, as you might expect in a German-engineered vehicle. The addition of several standard safety features and an optional 8-inch MIB II infotainment system was very well received by consumers. Driver controls were integrated into the steering wheel. Upper trim models had a ten-way power driver's seat and a six-way power passenger seat. The rear seats could be moved forward and back, even reclining if needed, and with some models having a panoramic sunroof, consumers began to buy the Tiguan in record amounts, beating even the aggressive projections VW had hoped for.

The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan offers quite a bit of room for being a smaller SUV, with ample interior room and above-average cabin space. The cargo space is larger than similar compact SUVs, with flat rear seats.


To help spur sales, VW offered a new extended warranty for the Tiguan, stretching the bumper-to-bumper coverage up to six years/72k miles. The warranty was transferrable to subsequent owners and added intrinsic value to purchase for many consumers.

What Are The Specs For The 2019 VW Tiguan?

The following are some of the specifications for the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Item Specification
Production Units (US Market) 109, 572
Length 185.1 “
Width 72.4 “
Height 66.3 “
Engine 2.0 L TSI DOHC 4-cylinder
Horsepower Rating 184 hp
Torque Rating 221 lb-ft
Transmission 8 speed automatic
Fuel Capacity 15.6 gallons
MPG 21 city/29 hwy
Towing Capacity 1500 lbs
Payload Capacity 940 lbs.
Cargo Capacity 73.5 cu ft (all rear seats down)
Curb Weight 3858 lbs
AirBag system Yes (six airbags)
Front Headroom 39.6 “
Front Leg Room 40.2 “
Wheelbase 109.8 “

What Are The Issues From Other Volkswagen Tiguan Model Years?

While there are no serious reports of issues with the 2019 Tiguan, several problems have been associated with other years.

Timing Chain Tensioner

The VW Tiguan suffered from a defective timing chain pre-tensioner that seems common to the VW model, not just the Tiguan. As the miles pile up, pre-tensioners are prone to fail and can cause serious engine damage if the timing chain fails. The repair is not cheap, often needing a service technician to dismantle a large part of the engine to install the new components.

Symptoms of this issue include engine stalling, sluggish engine performance, or an engine refusing to start. A death rattle from the passenger side will likely require a new motor, so it is best to get the vehicle directly to the service center as quickly as possible if you hear the sound.

Water Pump Failure

The VW water pumps are known to have issues, and the Tiguan is no exception. Without an effective water pump, coolant cannot circulate through the engine, which produces excess heat, and when it gets too hot, the engine will overheat or seize up. In addition to the water pump going out, inferior gaskets are prone to be one of the primary causes. Ensure that you monitor any leaks or puddles that you might find under the car. Watch your temperature gauges to keep things flowing like they should be.

Ignition Coil Pack Failure

This is a problem for many engines, not just the 2.0L TSI. Unfortunately, the TSI engine seems to fail more than most. There are several coil packs on each valve, so there is plenty of opportunity for the ignition coils to go out. A bad coil might set off an engine light or cause the engine to stall or run roughly. But it can get worse since they tend to fail in a series, it can get worse. Multiple coil failures could lead you to be unable to drive your car without getting it repaired.

Intake Manifold Gasket Failure

This issue has to do with a broken plastic intake manifold that tends to develop issues. The valve inside can stick open, which lets too much air get sucked into the engine. While the problem is not necessarily the manifold itself, if the inner valve fails, you must replace the entire manifold.  When VW was made aware of the issue, they knew that the part was probably defective and to their credit, they did the right thing. The company extended the warranty for the manifold to 120,000 miles/10 years, so if yours goes out, the company might repair it.

Best Year For Volkswagen Tiguan

About The Author

Matt Meurer

Matt Meurer

Matt is a VW Master Technician since 2009 after proceeding through the ranks as a Team Leader and Shop Foreman. He has developed software to increase car dealership efficiency, managed 10+ techs, and instructed students at multiple high-performance driving events since 2011. He is also the lead mechanic, engineer, and driver for Blue Goose Racing.

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