The Volkswagen Tiguan looks a bit plain and frankly, uninspiring at first look, but beneath the simple lines and somewhat boxy shape is a pretty fantastic combination of features and functionality that is anything but uninspiring.

My test Tiguan for the week was the SE in White Gold Metallic Exterior paint with Black Leatherette interior at a base MSRP of $28,950.
The Tiguan makes up in road handling and performance where it comes up a bit short in styling. The TSI Turbo had more than enough power for everything from in city driving to high altitude mountain passes thanks to its its 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual shifting, Sport mode, and a Dynamic Shift Program (DSP).

Premium fuel is recommended by VW for the Tiguan, not uncanny for a turbo, which imposes a small penalty on the otherwise decent fuel economy rating of 20/26 mpg City/Highway and average of 23 mpg. The six-speed automatic transmission includes a second overdrive gear to reduce engine RPM for cruising.

The Tiguan’s handled nicely thanks to its electro-mechanical power steering with variable assistance , with increased assistance in city driving and while parking and stiff, responsive steering at high speed.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion Review ZipRage (2 of 13)All five models in the 2014 Tiguan are powered by the 2.0 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine. All models that are equipped with an automatic transmission also have the option of 4Motion all-wheel drive with a six-speed manual transmission offered only on the front-wheel drive Tiguan S.

With a starting MSRP of $22,995, the 2.0T Tiguan S is the entry to the Tiguan range. Key standard features include a six-speed manual transmission; 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 215/65 R16 98H all-season tires for the automatic model and steel wheels for the manual model; electronic parking brake; power-adjustable, heated side mirrors; Bluetooth technology; trailer hitch prep; cloth seating; front manual lumbar support and height adjustment; split-folding rear seats with recline and center armrest; carpeted floor mats; cruise control; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel; leather shift knob; speed-sensitive power steering; multi-function display; Climatic air conditioning; intermittent front windshield wipers; 40/20/40-split folding rear seat; and an eight-speaker sound system with in-dash CD player.

Our test car was the SE, priced from $26,995 and takes the S automatic features and adds 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/50 R17 97H all-season tires; V-Tex leatherette seating; heatable front seats; power driver seat recline; privacy glass; VW Car-Net connected services; heated front washer nozzles; and Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod adapter.

In most driving conditions, 90 percent of the drive goes to the front wheels in 4Motion equipped vehicles, which helps save fuel. But when accelerating from standstill, for example, front-wheel slip is controlled by the Haldex coupling’s ability to progressively direct nearly 100 percent of the drive torque to the rear wheels.

The cabin design for the 2014 Tiguan is much like the exterior, uninspiring in appearance and a bit plain in materials, in the SE at least, but there is spacious seating for five adults, easy ingress through the wide-opening doors and generous legroom and headroom.

The SE I tested had the Black Leatherette interior which benefitted nicely from a two-tone layout with beige materials used above window lines.

The rear seat has a 40/20/40 split so the Tiguan can easily accommodate skis, fishing gear, etc…, while still having space for passengers on either side. With the rear seats in place, there is still an impressive 23.8 cubic feet of trunk space. With the second row seats forward it increases to 56.1 cubic feet. The available folding front passenger seatback allows the Tiguan to accommodate loads up to 98 inches long.

If you value functionality, performance and reliability over flashy styling the 2014 Tiguan is well worth the look.