The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact crossover SUV that has been in production worldwide since 2007, but it didn’t arrive in the United States until the 2009 model year. First-generation Tiguans were built on the PQ46 platform, with the second-generation riding on the MQB A2 platform from the German automaker. The name Tiguan comes from the German words Tiger (meaning tiger) and Leguan (meaning iguana). With more than six million sold worldwide, the Tiguan is currently the best-selling model for the Volkswagen Group.
Before you purchase a used Volkswagen Tiguan, you want to make sure it’s the best model possible. It’s important to know which SUVs are reliable so you can avoid unnecessary expenses. To get you started, we’ve put together some in-depth data that gives you a clearer picture. This information helps to guide you when buying or selling a used Tiguan.
Our data comes from thousands of FIXD car scanners that have been installed by owners in the SUVs. We unite this information with the survey results from Tiguan owners. To further link the information, we use the average repair estimates, safety grades, KBB car values, fuel economy scores, and the open NHTSA recalls to supply you with comprehensive ratings.
Volkswagen Tiguan Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG, and Value v.s. Maintenance & Repair Costs – Year by Year
We’ve compiled all of the available data on the Volkswagen Tiguan models so you can do your research in one place. Our thorough charts leave no stone unturned. You will find the most important ratings and values necessary to make the best decision. After reading through the data, you should be able to determine which reliable Tiguan suits your needs the best. Our evaluation includes fuel economy ratings, owner satisfaction scores, reliability rankings, the average cost for maintenance and repairs, plus all of the necessary safety data.
If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.
Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years
Allowing you to see the Tiguan reliability as we’ve seen it, we put together two varying factors in a graph. This chart reveals the following aspects:
- The FIXD Reliability score (Green line) – we source this score from how many check engine lights were set by Volkswagen Tiguan models, weighted by mileage reported from owners.
- The Owner Reliability score (Gray line) – this score is sourced from the answers left by Volkswagen Tiguan drivers who took our survey.
Our reliability scale falls between 1 and 10 with every Volkswagen Tiguan model. When the SUV is awarded a score of 10, it means it’s the best-rated. Any scores with a 1 indicate that it’s the worst option. Average scores fall around 5.
We typically find that the newer models are among the most reliable, yet that’s not always the case. Additionally, we needed to remove the 2009 and 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan from our rankings because we didn’t feel we received enough data on these to provide the best ranking. With some more respondents during these years, the ranking may have been dramatically different.
Take a minute to read the most common reasons for the Check Engine Light on Volkswagen Tiguan models. This article helps describe the problems you may encounter with the VW SUV.
NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) protects Americans by running crash tests on today’s vehicles. The government agency provides a score revealing just how safe each vehicle is. A higher score reveals that the vehicle is safer, which is important to consider if you are looking for a family-friendly SUV.
However, it’s not always simple to look at a score and understand what it means. That’s why we graph the safety scores on Volkswagen Tiguan models compared to the average across the board. If you want the Tiguan scores, look at the green line. Then, compare it to the gray line to see how it stacks up among all of the vehicles we’ve charted. Sadly, the 2012 to 2017 VW Tiguan doesn’t fare well against the average.
You don’t just want good crash tests for safety purposes but also to ensure you receive cheap car insurance rates. By choosing an SUV with excellent safety scores, you keep your rate lower.
If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.
|What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:|
MPG – Over The Years
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact SUV that is sold in more places than the United States. In other parts of the world, there has been a diesel-powered option, but we haven’t received it. U.S. drivers can only choose the gas-powered configuration.
Still, you want to know which models earn the best fuel economy scores. Our graph pinpoints the average mpg scores of every VW Tiguan model for you. This information is sourced from fueleconomy.gov. The green line shows the average score across trim levels on gas-powered models.
Based on this data, the best fuel economy is considered the 2019 and 2021 gas models at 25 mpg.
Current Market Value of All Volkswagen Tiguan Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each
Volkswagen Tiguan models aren’t overly priced, so it’s easy to find a bargain in most model years. Several model years can now be purchased for under $10,000. However, the resale value drops quickly as it ages. The average resale value depends on what model year is chosen, the trim level and equipment, as well as the mileage. For this reason, we always recommend running your own KBB value report before you decide to buy or sell a Tiguan.
For the majority of Tiguan models, the cost of maintaining and repairing the SUV is also reasonable. There are a few models that average higher costs, but these are the ones you would want to avoid. By learning from the experience of other owners, you can avoid costly repair bills in the future.
During your research, you may find two VW Tiguan model years that suit you. When debating between two, we always recommend going with the newer option, as long as the reliability is good. With a newer SUV, you should get more mileage out of it, and there will be upgraded features.
When shopping for a used Volkswagen Tiguan, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!
Important Features Timeline
2009: Brand-new model becomes VW’s first in the compact crossover SUV segment
2010: Bluetooth becomes standard on SE and SEL trims, Wolfsburg Edition released
2011: Minor feature reshuffling, Wolfsburg Edition discontinued
2012: Redesigned automatic transmission increases fuel economy by 2 mpg, SEL trim receives new 19” alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and adaptive Xenon headlights, new LE trim released between the S and SE
2013: Leather-wrapped steering wheel standard in all trims, LE model dropped from the lineup
2014: R-Line trim becomes the sporty top level, Car-Net telematics service released
2015: New standard equipment includes an iPod cable, a rearview camera, Car-Net connected services and a 5” touchscreen display, S trim no longer offered with a manual transmission, R-Line model receives a new rear bumper
2016: New standard equipment includes heated front seats, keyless ignition and entry, and V-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, R-Line loses some features and falls between the S and SE trims
2017: SE and R-Line trims discontinued, Wolfsburg Edition and Sport trims released, 6.3” touchscreen display becomes standard, along with HD Radio, satellite radio, and Car-Net apps
2018: Start of 2nd generation is fully redesigned with a larger cabin and a third row, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto become standard technology
2019: Minor shuffling of trim levels and features
2020: SEL trim comes standard with a heated steering wheel and automatic wipers
2021: SE trims receive standard adaptive cruise control, newly available 8” touchscreen infotainment system
2022: Updated exterior styling, availability expanded of advanced driver-assist technologies
The Best Years of the Volkswagen Tiguan
We’ve picked the best Volkswagen Tiguan models by combining the FIXD Reliability Ratings with the Owner Survey Scores. In our evaluation, there’s also trouble code data, fuel economy scores, safety ratings, and projected ownership costs. We end each section with a look at recalls from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In our Best & Worst Volkswagen Tiguan list, we had to remove the 2009 and 2015 models because there wasn’t enough data for a qualified ranking. While we don’t want to speculate about these models, we do feel confident that they could likely be grouped with others around the same year. This is what we would suggest doing if you consider buying either one of these Tiguan models.
FIXD Reliability Score: 9-10/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-10/10
KBB Value: $17,566-$23,621
Fuel Economy: 24-25 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$583
Safety Rating: 4.67/5
The 2019 to 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan models top our charts because of their superior ratings and fuel efficiency.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan is a perfect 10 out of 10, with the 2020 VW model earning 9 out of 10 and the 2021 Tiguan ranking at 8 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2020 Tiguan earns 9 out of 10, but both the 2019 and 2021 VW models have a score of 10 out of 10.
The NHTSA crash test scores on all three Tiguan models are 4.67 (out of 5). This rating is above average, so it’s a great choice for a family.
The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan has an average fuel economy rating of 24 mpg. However, both the 2019 and 2021 Tiguan models average 25 mpg, which is the best found in the entire lineup.
Both the 2020 and 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan models show an average cost of ownership at $250 a year. The 2019 Tiguan is rated at $583 a year. That slight jump could have something to do with the VW warranty, offering coverage across four years or 50,000 miles. Still, these three models show zero to little mechanical issues that would require spending more than $500 at the shop.
Both the 2019 and 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan models deal with the Control Module Supply Circuit 1 Low Voltage (U3501) code. Most often, this is a simple electrical system fault that can be remedied quickly. The most common fault with the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is the Secondary Air Injection System Switching Valve A Circuit Open (P0413) DTC. Across the board, the faults tend to be minimal, such as the Cylinder 3 Misfire Detected (P0303) code with the 2020 Tiguan model. If a new ignition coil is required, you may only spend $51 to $173.
The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan has five open recalls and shows a minor safety concern. The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan has three recalls compared to the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, with five recalls. However, both of these models also show the same minor safety issue.
FIXD Reliability Score: 7-10/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-9/10
KBB Value: $11,298-$12,500
Fuel Economy: 22-23 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $393-$625
Safety Rating: 4.2-4.67/5
The 2016 and 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan models round out the 1st generation, while the 2018 model is the first in the 2nd, yet all three have similar rankings.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan is 8 out of 10, with the 2017 and 2018 VW models earning 9 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2016 Tiguan earns 7 out of 10, the 2017 VW shows 9 out of 10, and the 2018 VW Tiguan models have a score of 10 out of 10.
The NHTSA crash test scores on the 2016 and 2017 Tiguan models are 4.2 (out of 5), which is below average. However, this was improved with the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan, showing a rating of 4.67 (out of 5).
The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan has an average fuel economy rating of 22 mpg. Yet, both the 2016 and 2018 Tiguan models earn an average of 23 mpg.
Even out of warranty, these Tiguan models continue to have a low cost of ownership. The 2017 Tiguan has the lowest of the three at $393 a year, while the 2018 VW is only slightly higher at $417 yearly. On the top end of the spectrum, the 2016 VW is rated at $625 a year. Aside from that, there’s a slightly elevated chance of expensive AC/heat repairs with the 2018 model and fuel system repairs on 2017 Tiguans.
The most common DTC with the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan is the Intake Manifold Runner Position Sensor/Switch Circuit (P2015) code. The 2018 Tiguan also suffers from the Control Module Supply Circuit 1 Low Voltage (U3501) code. With all three models, there are random misfire codes that are present, such as the Cylinder 4 Misfire Detected (P0304) DTC with the 2017 Tiguan, or the Random Multiple Misfire Detected (P0300) with the 2016 and 2018 models. With these issues, you may need a new ignition coil, costing $51 to $173, or a crankcase pressure regulating valve, costing $54 to $170.
The 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan only has two open recalls. The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan shows four recalls, while the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan has 13 recalls, two investigations, and the same safety concern from earlier.
The Worst Years of the Volkswagen Tiguan
Now that you know which model years are the best, it’s time to pick the worst Volkswagen Tiguan model years. We took the same data to make these selections and listed the worst, starting with the ones that show the biggest issues and working our way backwards.
FIXD Reliability Score: 2-3/10
Owner Reliability Score: 5-8/10
KBB Value: $4,145-$4,200
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $1,000-$1,625
Safety Rating: 4-4.67/5
The reliability scores drop dramatically with the 2010 and 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan and the cost of ownership skyrockets.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan is 8 out of 10, with the 2011 model rated at just 5 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2010 model earns 2 out of 10, and the 2011 Tiguan shows a score of 3 out of 10.
The 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan has a safety rating of 4.67 (out of 5), but the 2011 Tiguan only earns 4 (out of 5). However, both of these are still considered average or above when compared with others from the same model year.
Both the 2010 and 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan have an average fuel economy rating of 21 mpg.
The cost of ownership for the 2010 and 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan is exceptionally high. The 2011 Tiguan is lower at $1,000 per year, but the 2010 Tiguan has a rating of $1,625 per year. When compared with the value of the SUV, expensive repairs aren’t going to make sense. Plus, they both show an increased chance of engine repairs, while the 2010 VW further struggles with AC/heat issues.
Both Tiguan models suffer from the Random Multiple Misfire Detected (P0300) code. There’s also a chance of the Cylinder 2 Misfire Detected (P0302) code with the 2010 Tiguan and the Cylinder 4 Misfire Detected (P0304) DTC with the 2011 model. These misfiring issues could require a replacement ignition coil, costing $51 to $173, or a crankcase pressure regulating valve, costing $54 to $170. On top of that, the 2010 VW Tiguan struggles with the Intake Manifold Runner Position Sensor/Switch Circuit (P2015) code.
FIXD Reliability Score: 3-4/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-9/10
KBB Value: $5,446-$6,819
Fuel Economy: 22-23 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $417-$750
Safety Rating: 3.8-4.2/5
Compared to the last bunch, the ratings are slightly better on these Tiguan models, but they still suffer from some mechanical issues and low safety scores.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan is 9 out of 10, while the 2013 and 2014 models are rated at 8 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2013 model earns 3 out of 10, and the other two Tiguan models achieve a score of 4 out of 10.
The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan has a safety rating of 4 (out of 5), but the 2013 Tiguan does even worse at 3.8 (out of 5). Out of the three models, the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan does the best at 4.2 (out of 5), but this is still below average.
The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan has the best average fuel economy of the three at 23 mpg. However, the other two models aren’t far behind, averaging 22 mpg.
The cost of ownership for these three models doesn’t seem too high. The 2013 Tiguan averages $417 a year, while the 2014 model is at the higher end, averaging $750 per year. The concern is that all three suffer from engine repairs, plus the 2012 and 2014 have brake issues, and the 2013 shows a higher chance of AC/heat trouble.
Both the 2012 and 2013 deal with the Turbo Underboost Condition (P0299) code. Additionally, all three show a higher likelihood of the Random Multiple Misfire Detected (P0300) code. There are other misfire codes, such as the Cylinder 4 Misfire Detected (P0304) DTC with the 2013 and 2014 Tiguan models. Once again, these vehicles may need a replacement ignition coil, costing $51 to $173, or a crankcase pressure regulating valve, costing $54 to $170.
According to our data, the 2010-2014 models deal with more expensive engine repairs. There’s also a higher instance of transmission repairs with the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan models.
Volkswagen has been known for making reliable vehicles in previous years, but it’s difficult to tell how the Tiguan will fare because it’s only been around since 2009. We don’t have a lot of data on high-mileage Tiguan models to pull from yet. Still, you could expect the Tiguan to do better if you keep up with regular maintenance.
Based on our data at this point, a high-mileage Volkswagen Tiguan could be considered anything over 100,000 miles.
The 2010 and 2011 Volkswagen Tiguan SUVs have the highest mileage in our surveys at 150,000. However, we expect that these numbers are only going to rise higher over time.
Volkswagen makes several SUVs that could be considered instead. We recommend looking into the Volkswagen Taos, Atlas Cross Sport, Atlas, or the electrified ID.4. If you aren’t opposed to a sedan, you could also check out the Volkswagen Passat, Jetta, or Arteon.
Beyond the VW nameplate, consider the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Bronco Sport, Mazda CX-50, or Nissan Rogue. You could also investigate the Subaru Forester, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Outlander, Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Compass, or GMC Terrain.
What owners of the Volkswagen Tiguan like to use their car for:
Percent based x/5-star: 0-10% = 1, 11-20% = 2, 21-30% = 3, 31-40% = 4, 41%+ = 5
|Frequent Use Categories:||How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)|
|Lots of Driving (travel/long commute)||***|
|Office on Wheels||*|
A Note About Data and Information Sources
This article has many details about Volkswagen Tiguan’s reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.
- FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App.
The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing.
This is an objective score.
- Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Volkswagen Tiguan owners who use FIXD.
The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the Volkswagen Tiguan.
This is a subjective score.
To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:
How reliable would you say your Volkswagen Tiguan is?
a. Just point A to point B driving
b. A Daily Commuter
c. Good for a 100-mile road trip
d. Good for a 500-mile road trip
e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem
From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:
a. = 2
b. = 4
c. = 6
d. = 8
e. = 10
Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is.
One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.
Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.
Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others.
It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars.
Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data.
We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.
- KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Volkswagen Tiguan with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
- Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Volkswagen Tiguan owners
- Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.
- Volkswagen Tiguan, wikipedia.org. Retrieved September 17, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Tiguan
- Volkswagen Tiguan reviews, edmunds.com. Retrieved September 18, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/volkswagen/tiguan/
- Volkswagen Carefree Coverage, vw.com. Retrieved September 19, 2023, from https://www.vw.com/en/carefree-coverage.html
Brian Jones owns a used car dealership outside of Dallas, Texas. He has also worked for decades as an ASE Certified Master Technician for a variety of new car dealerships. Now he spends his time consulting dealerships and writing for some renowned publications, such as Motor1 (https://www.motor1.com/info/team/brian-jones/). When he’s not working, he’s tinkering around with pickup trucks and traveling with his family.