The 2018 VW Tiguan Is Still Weird In Two Ways

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In the pursuit of volume sales, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan destined for North America has been brushed with the normal stick.

It's square, has a conventional-looking grille, has power comparable to the best-sellers in a class that includes the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V and does everything it can to blend in and not offend.

OK, it still has a weird name. "Tiguan" has never rolled off the tongue, but VW clearly wasn't concerned enough to change it for the American market unlike the larger Atlas SUV that will be called Teramont everywhere else. The U.S.-bound, Mexico-made Tiguan is a larger variant of the model already on sale in other countries and will be known as the Tiguan Allspace. Which I keep calling the "Allspice" instead.

But the stranger aspect of the new Tiguan is that it is offered with a third-row seat, bringing capacity to a theoretical seven passengers. While the Nissan Rogue offers one and the Mitsubishi Outlander comes standard with seven seatbelts, these are cheap seats for sure. The Tiguan's, however, might be the tightest squeeze. It's placed practically on the floor, it seems to be lower than you think it really is whenever you try to sit down. Another auto show visitor got in through the other side as I sat back there and I ended up sitting uncomfortably close to this person I'd never met. Consider this if you ever get into a three-row Tiguan uberPool.

There are nice touches, like the fact the cargo cover actually fits in the cubby under the cargo floor, so it's not forever gathering dust in your garage. The second-row, at least, slides easily forward and is less complicated to operate than in even more expensive three-row SUVs. And the new Tiguan itself is nicely finished, as we found when we tested a European-market example, though all the examples at Detroit were the top-trim SEL models.

The new Tiguan will probably be distinguished enough in the class thanks to its optional gadgets and the fact it's finally a good size for the U.S. market. Cargo space with just two rows of seats gives the new CR-V a run for its money, and it's probably as hatch-like to drive as the Escape or a Mazda CX-5. That third row in it, however, will be a source of amusement if you're seated in a more spacious area – or anguish if you drew the short straw.

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