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William Maley

2014 Review Wrap-Up: Crossovers

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We're now at the end of our 2014 review wrap-up which deals with the largest group of vehicles I dealt with this past year: Crossovers.

Next: Dodge Journey Crossroad

Let us go back to the most recent dark age of Chrysler. During the floundering years of DiamlerChrysler to Cerberus ownership, Chrysler produced some of the worst vehicles to ever appear. Models such as the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Caliber, Jeep Compass, and Patriot left a bad taste in buyer’s mouths and would be one of the factors that would lead the company into bankruptcy. But after going through bankruptcy and being under the guidance of Fiat, Chrysler would rise from the ashes. One of the first things Fiat did for the company was to infuse the company with some much needed funds to give some of their vehicles much needed changes. One of those vehicles was the Dodge Journey, a small five to seven seat crossover that received mixed reviews when introduced back in 2007. With the changes that Chrysler and Fiat bestowed on the Journey, is it one that you should consider?

2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad 11

The basic shape of the Journey hasn’t really changed much since it was first introduced back in 2007, which unfortunately means that it looks like other crossovers in the marketplace. The Crossroad trim adds some ruggedness to the Journey with dark grille inserts and surrounds, off-road inspired front and rear fascias, 19-inch wheels in a dark finish, and black headlight housings. Inside is where some of the major changes happened as Dodge ripped out the old interior layout and materials and replaced it with a new dashboard with a better control layout and better materials. The excellent UConnect infotainment system with an 8.4 inch screen was in my tester and it still remains very easy to use. Seats are leather with "sport mesh" inserts which were kind of odd feeling, but providing a nice level of comfort. My Journey was a five-seater version which I think is the best way to configure the Journey as there is enough space for passengers and cargo. Jumping to seven-seat model means cramped space for passengers in the third row and barely any cargo space.

The Journey has a choice of two different engines. The base is a 2.4L four-cylinder, while my tester came with the optional Pentastar 3.6L V6. The V6 produces 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. The V6 is more than capable of moving the 4,238 pound as power is very abundant throughout the rev range. The six-speed automatic showed no signs of confusions when going through the gears, although on my tester, downshifts seemed to a take a second or two longer. One downside to the V6 is fuel economy. The EPA rates the Journey V6 with AWD at 16 City/24 Highway/19 Combined. My week of driving returned an average of 18. Not bad, but not good when compared to such competitors as the Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander.

2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad 6

The Journey’s ride is mostly composed over smooth and somewhat rutted roads. On rougher surfaces, the suspension has its work cut out and some road jostles do make their way into the cabin. Cornering is what you expect in a crossover, a bit of lean and body roll. Steering feels somewhat rubbery, but provides some decent feel.

The changes Chrysler and Fiat did to the Journey did give it a new lease on life. However, the Journey doesn’t really have anything that sets it apart except price. A base Journey will $20,295, while my somewhat optioned Journey Crossroads hits the road $31,380. If price your main concern, then give the Journey a look. Otherwise, you might be better off with another crossover.

Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Journey Crossroad, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2014

Make: Dodge

Model: Journey

Trim: Crossroad AWD

Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6

Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

Horsepower @ RPM: 283 @ 6,350

Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19

Curb Weight: 4,238 lbs

Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico

Base Price: $28,395

As Tested Price: $31,380 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

Navigation and Sound Group I - $995.00

Popular Equipment Group - $995.00

Next: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T


When I reviewed the Hyundai Sonata Fe Sport back in 2013, I said that it was a mostly competent crossover. The only downside was the base 2.4L four-cylinder as it felt that was under a lot of stress to get the vehicle moving. I said that 2.4 would be ok for most buyers if you decided to get the Santa Fe Sport with front-wheel drive. But if you were to go for all-wheel drive, the optional 2.0T would be a better choice. But is it? Well I had some time in a Santa Fe Sport 2.0T to find out if my original opinion was right.

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T 9

The turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder in the Santa Fe Sport produces 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet torque. This comes paired up to a six-speed automatic with the choice of either front or all-wheel drive. In my tester, I had the front-wheel drive version. Compared to the somewhat out-of-breath 2.4, the 2.0T seems like the perfect match for the Santa Fe Sport. With the turbo spooled up, the Santa Fe Sport moves with authority. With torque arriving at 1,750 rpm, the Santa Fe Sport gets out of its own way and feels like power is always available. Even though this is a four-cylinder, Hyundai has done a lot of work in refinement to make it feel more like a V6. There’s barely a hint of buzzing or racket that is common to four-cylinders. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T FWD at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined. My average for the week landed around 23.1 MPG.

Aside from the different engine, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is very much the same as the model I drove back in 2013. The styling is very distinctive for the class and equipment is very generous with such features as dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats, and sun shades for the rear windows. Making this even sweeter is a base price $30,650 which for what you get makes it quite a steal for the class.

So if you were considering getting a Santa Fe Sport, you might want to consider the 2.0T. It makes a good crossover into an impressive one.

Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2014

Make: Hyundai

Model: Santa Fe Sport

Trim: 2.0T

Engine: 2.0L Turbo GDI DOHC 16-valve Four-Cylinder

Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

Horsepower @ RPM: 264 @ 6,000

Torque @ RPM: 269 @ 1,750 - 3,000

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22

Curb Weight: 3,569 lbs

Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA

Base Price: $30,650

As Tested Price: $33,385 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

Navigation Package - $1,750.00

Carpeted Floor Mats - $110.00

Next: Volkswagen Tiguan SEL


Within the past few years, the compact crossover market has been booming. It seems every year that a new automaker joins the group with their interpretation of a compact crossover. But what about the old guard? How do they stack up? Well I spent some time in one of them, the Volkswagen Tiguan to find out.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion 8

Looking at the Volkswagen Tiguan, you can’t help but think its a smaller Touareg. The overall profile and shape make you think the Volkswagen just left their larger crossover in the wash a bit too long. Up front is Volkswagen’s two slim bar grille with large headlights and a strand of LEDs. Along the side is a lot of glass area to make the interior feel more spacious, along with body cladding and a set of eighteen-inch wheels. The back features flared haunches and a set of large taillights.

Inside is a mixed bag. Let’s begin with the good points. Controls for the standard infotainment system is in easy reach for the driver and passenger. Seats came wrapped in a beige leatherette which felt fine and provided good support. Back seat space is excellent with an abundance of head and legroom. Now onto the bad points. To start, material quality is somewhat disappointing. There is some spots of soft touch material, but the majority of the interior is made up of hard plastics. This would be fine if this was a crossover around the high $20,000 mark, not one that costs $35,490. Then there is the standard infotainment system on the SEL. This is the small screen system Volkswagen uses on many of their vehicles and comes with a litany of problems. To start is the graphic interface looks it has come from the early to mid-2000s which also means the touch points are very small, making them somewhat hard to hit. Also the small screen makes it hard to look at glance, meaning you have to take your eyes off the road for a few seconds longer than looking at larger screen. Then there is the rear cargo space which measures out to 23.8 cubic feet, which makes it the smallest in the small crossover class.

Powering all Tiguans is Volkswagen’s well known turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet. This is paired to a six-speed automatic and optional 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The turbo 2.0L gives the Tiguan some scoot with torque coming in 1700 rpm and it never feels that it will run out of power the higher you climb in the rev range. Plus the turbo-four is very refined with no hint the buzz that is common in four cylinders. The six-speed automatic makes the most of the power and delivers quick shifts. Fuel economy is somewhat of a disappointment with ratings of 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. I got around 22.4 MPG during my week.

2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion 13

Some reviewers have called the Tiguan’s handling GTI-like. I thought that was a bit dubious, but I have to admit that is the best way to describe it. The suspension limits the amount of body roll, while the tires and 4Motion all-wheel drive kept the Tiguan glued to the road. Steering has good feel and weight to it. On the day to day front, the Tiguan does ok with minimizing road imperfections and bumps. It likely helps that my Tiguan was equipped with the 18-inch wheels and not the optional 19-inch wheels which make the ride unbearable.

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it has some good looks and impressive handling characteristics. On the other hand, there is a number of problems with the interior, fuel economy is a bit meh, and the price tag of $35,490 is a bit too much. You’ll be better off with looking at a Mazda CX-5 or a Subaru Forester.

Disclaimer: Volkswagen Provided the Tiguan SEL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2014

Make: Volkswagen

Model: Tiguan

Trim: SEL 4Motion

Engine: 2.0L TSI Turbocharged Four-Cylinder

Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5100

Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1700

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23

Curb Weight: 3,591 lbs

Location of Manufacture: Wolfsburg, Germany

Base Price: $34,625

As Tested Price: $35,490 (Includes $865.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

N/A

Next: 2015 Kia Sorento SX AWD


The current Kia Sorento is one of my favorite crossovers on sale as it has a nice equation of standard equipment and improvements, with similar pricing to the older model. One downside to the Sorento I drove last year was the price tag. With an as-tested price of $41,600 for the SX Limited I drove, I felt it was bit much for what you got, especially considering you could get mostly everything in the SX model for about $2,000 less. So when a 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD arrived for weeklong test, it was time to see if I could stand on that opinion.

2015 Kia Sorento SX AWD 4

Now compared to the Sorento SX Limited I drove back last year, the SX really doesn’t have any differences on the exterior when compared to SX Limited aside from wheel finish. The SX came with nineteen-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited gets a chrome finish. Inside there are only few minor differences between the two trim levels such the SX Limited getting Napa leather and premium black trim. Otherwise there isn’t any real difference between the two trims as they both have heated and cooled seats, Kia’s UVO infotainment system, push-button start, and sunroof. So unless you really want Napa leather and chrome wheels, the SX seems like the better buy.

Now not much has changed under the Sorento since we last reviewed it. The standard 3.3L GDI V6 still makes 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive. Like I said in my review of the Sorento SX Limited, the V6 is quite punchy and has no problem of getting the vehicle up to speed. Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. I saw an average of 21.3 MPG. The Sorento’s ride still retains its comfortable characteristics of isolating bumps and imperfections.

So after spending a week in the Sorento SX, I would stand by my opinion of going with this model than the Sorento SX Limited. It just makes more sense as it does cents.

Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Sorento SX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2015

Make: Kia

Model: Sorento

Trim: SX AWD

Engine: 3.3L GDI V6

Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400

Torque @ RPM: 252 @ 5,200

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined -18/24/20

Curb Weight: 3,894 lbs

Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia

Base Price: $38,300

As Tested Price: $39,195 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

N/A

Next: Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum


In the talk of the seven-seat crossovers, we tend to mention the likes of the Chevrolet Traverse and its ilk; the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, and Honda Pilot. But there some models that deserve a spot in the light. Case in point is the redesigned Toyota Highlander.

2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum 5

The Highlander retains the boxy silhouette that has been a part of the vehicle for the past two-generations. But Toyota has given the Highlander a bit more of of muscular attitude to fit it more in line with Toyota’s SUV lineup. The new model has wider haunches, a more imposing trapazodial grille, larger head and taillights, and five spoke wheels. Moving inside, the Highlander has gone under a massive change. Higher quality materials and new dash layout help make the Highlander feel more premium.The dash layout now features a shelf sitting underneath the climate control and passenger side airbag to provide a spot for your phone or any small product. My particular Highlander comes equipped with seating for seven, though you can get seating for eight. Second row passengers get an impressive amount of head and legroom, however the flip-up cupholder on the passenger side seat is a bit flimsy and I worry it could break. Third-row passengers get decent headroom, but legroom is non-existent.

Power comes from Toyota’s 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive system. This is the powertrain I would go for instead of the base 2.7L four-cylinder as its up to the duty of moving the portly Highlander (can get up to 4,500 lbs). The V6 has enough grunt to get the Highlander moving and keep up with the flow of traffic. Engine refinement is tops with barely any noise or harshness coming from the V6. The transmission is smart enough to keep the engine in the area of power and provides smooth shifts. As for fuel economy, Toyota says the Highlander V6 AWD gets 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 21.1 MPG.

2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum 10

Toyota must have borrowed some of Lexus’ ride engineers to work on the new Highlander because it rides like a Lexus. Driving on some of the roughest roads in Detroit, the Highlander’s suspension was able to cope and provide a very smooth ride. There has also been work done on noise isolation to make road and wind noise almost non-existent.

My Highlander Limited Platinum rolled up with an as tested price of $46,156, making it one of the more expensive choices in the crossover arena. But with all of the changes and improvements, I think the Highlander can justify the price. If you are considering a seven-seat crossover, the Highlander deserves a space at the top of the list.

Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2014

Make: Toyota

Model: Highlander

Trim: Limited Platinum

Engine: 3.5L DOHC Dual VVT-i V6

Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

Horsepower @ RPM: 270 @ 6,200

Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/24/20

Curb Weight: 4,508 lbs

Location of Manufacture: Princeton, IN

Base Price: $43,590

As Tested Price: $46,156 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge)

Options:

Tow Hitch w/Wiring Harness - $699.00

Remote Start - $499.00

Glass Breakage Sensor - $299.00

Body Side Molding - $209.00


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      Inside, all Final Edition models are equipped with standard KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with unique “Beetle” clip, stainless steel pedal caps, Climatronic® automatic climate control, gloss black center console, a unique Safari Uni color dashpad with the classic kaeferfach glovebox or “Beetle bin” that harkens to the color-matched interior treatments in the Última Edición, and three-color ambient lighting. Final Edition SE models feature cloth and leatherette rhombus-pattern seats, while SEL models offer standard diamond-stitched leather seating surfaces.
      Final Edition SE models feature a Composition Media infotainment unit with a 6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display, Bluetooth® technology for compatible devices, USB multimedia port, SiriusXM® radio (three-month trial subscription), Voice Control, and Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect smartphone integration. Final Edition SEL models upgrade to Discover Media infotainment with navigation, Car-Net Security & Service, and Guide & Inform, as well as Fender® Premium Audio.
      All 2019 Beetle models, both convertible and coupe, are powered a 2.0 liter TSI® engine that puts out 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. All models are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and the EPA-estimated fuel economy rating is 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.
      To meet the demands of American drivers, all Beetle Final Edition models offer driver-assistance technology. SE models include standard Blind Spot Monitor Rear Traffic Alert. Final Edition SEL models add standard front and rear Park Distance Control.
      Pricing for the 2019 Beetle Final Edition coupe starts at $23,045 for SE models and $25,995 for SEL models. Beetle Convertible Final Edition pricing starts at $27,295 for SE models and $29,995 for SEL models. The destination charge for all Beetle models is an additional $895.

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    • By William Maley
      The end of the Volkswagen Beetle is coming. Volkswagen announced last week that production of the iconic coupe and convertible will end next July at the company's Puebla, Mexico. Before the final curtain call, Volkswagen will be building a Final Edition version.
      Available as a either a coupe or convertible, the Final Edition will be available with two exclusive colors - Safari Uni and Stonewashed Blue. You can also get it in white, black, or grey if the exclusive colors don't interest you. Convertibles aside from those painted in Safari Uni will get a light brown top. A set of multi-spoke 17-inch wheels are standard on the SE, while 18-inch retro styled wheels come on the SEL. For the interior, the Final Edition comes with seats that have pleating. SE models come upholstered in a combination of leatherette and cloth, while the SEL makes do with leather.
      Power comes from the same 2.0L turbo-four found in other Beetles. It produces 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. 
      Pricing for the 2019 Beetle Final Edition is as followed,
      SE Coupe: $23,940 SEL Coupe: $26,890 SE Convertible: $28,190 SEL Convertible: $30,890 Prices include a $895 destination charge.
      Source: Volkswagen


      Volkswagen Announces Beetle Final Edition
      Special models celebrate Beetle’s rich heritage as third-generation is set to end production in 2019
      Herndon, VA (September 13, 2018) — Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced today that it will end production of the iconic Beetle in 2019. To celebrate the Beetle’s rich heritage, two special models will join the lineup for its last model year—Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL.
      “The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the U.S. and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it. But as we have seen with the I.D. BUZZ—which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus—I would also say, ‘Never say never.’ We’re excited to kick off a year of celebrating one of the true icons of the automotive world, with a series of events that will culminate in the end of production in Puebla in July 2019.”
      Available in coupe and convertible body styles, the Final Edition models include exclusive equipment and unique upscale décor elements designed to send the Beetle off in style. Models also draw inspiration from the first-generation Beetle’s final run in Mexico, where the vehicle is assembled.
      The 2003 Última Edición (last edition) models were only available in two colors—beige and light blue. Today’s Final Edition models will feature two unique colors: Safari Uni—a reinvention of Harvest Moon Beige, a color from the New Beetle—and Stonewashed Blue, a nod to the 1970 Jeans Bug and most recently seen on the 2016 Beetle Denim. Final Edition models are also available in Pure White, Deep Black Pearl, and Platinum Grey. Convertible Final Edition SEL models in every exterior color except Safari Uni are available with a unique Brown soft top.
      Final Edition coupe models feature standard chrome treatments like the Última Edición models, in addition to body-color side mirrors, heated washer nozzles (all standard features across the Beetle Convertible lineup), as well as a sunroof. Final Edition SEL models are equipped with Bi-Xenon® headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), LED taillights, and fog lights. All Final Edition models replace the typical “Turbo” badge on the tailgate with a “Beetle” badge.
      Unique wheels complete the exterior transformation of Beetle Final Edition models. Final Edition SE models feature 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a 15-spoke design. Final Edition SEL models are shod with 18-inch white aluminum-alloy wheels in a disc design that is reminiscent of the Última Edición’s body-colored steel wheels fitted with chrome hubcaps and whitewall tires.
      Inside, all Final Edition models are equipped with standard KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with unique “Beetle” clip, stainless steel pedal caps, Climatronic® automatic climate control, gloss black center console, a unique Safari Uni color dashpad with the classic kaeferfach glovebox or “Beetle bin” that harkens to the color-matched interior treatments in the Última Edición, and three-color ambient lighting. Final Edition SE models feature cloth and leatherette rhombus-pattern seats, while SEL models offer standard diamond-stitched leather seating surfaces.
      Final Edition SE models feature a Composition Media infotainment unit with a 6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display, Bluetooth® technology for compatible devices, USB multimedia port, SiriusXM® radio (three-month trial subscription), Voice Control, and Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect smartphone integration. Final Edition SEL models upgrade to Discover Media infotainment with navigation, Car-Net Security & Service, and Guide & Inform, as well as Fender® Premium Audio.
      All 2019 Beetle models, both convertible and coupe, are powered a 2.0 liter TSI® engine that puts out 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. All models are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and the EPA-estimated fuel economy rating is 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.
      To meet the demands of American drivers, all Beetle Final Edition models offer driver-assistance technology. SE models include standard Blind Spot Monitor Rear Traffic Alert. Final Edition SEL models add standard front and rear Park Distance Control.
      Pricing for the 2019 Beetle Final Edition coupe starts at $23,045 for SE models and $25,995 for SEL models. Beetle Convertible Final Edition pricing starts at $27,295 for SE models and $29,995 for SEL models. The destination charge for all Beetle models is an additional $895.
    • By William Maley
      A few weeks ago, I wrote a comparison test between the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. It was a close fight, but the Atlas ended up being the victor as it proved to be the better all-around three-row crossover. I find myself comparing these two brands once again, this time with their compact crossovers. Like their larger brethren, the two models take different approaches. The Mazda CX-5 goes for something that provides a premium feel and exciting drive, while the Volkswagen Tiguan uses space and comfort as its guide. Which one of these crossovers  Which one of these crossovers is right for you?
      Exterior
      Mazda’s design team believed evolution would be the right approach for the second-generation CX-5’s design and we have to agree. Taking the first-generation model, designers added more curves to the body, widened the front grille, and angled the front LED headlights. In what is becoming a very crowded class, the CX-5 stands tall, especially when wearing the optional Soul Red paint.
      Like the Atlas, the Volkswagen Tiguan’s shape can be explained as  “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” Little details such as the three-bar grille, LED daytime-running lights, and slightly bulging fenders help give the Tiguan a touch of class. The optional Habanero Orange Metallic paint color on my test vehicle does show Volkswagen is willing to step outside of its comfort zone. In terms of dimensions, the Tiguan is six inches longer in overall length and rides on a wheelbase that is 3.6-inches longer than the CX-5. 
      Interior
      The Tiguan’s interior follows Volkswagen’s ethos of keeping it functional in terms of the design. It features simple dash and design touches such as a silver finish for various trim pieces. Volkswagen does make up for the boring design with an excellent layout of controls. For example, the climate control system is slightly angled upward to not only make it easier to reach, but also make it less of a hassle to look down and see the current settings. Material quality is average for this type of vehicle with a mix of hard and soft plastics.
      The front seats in the Tiguan SE offer a power recline and manual adjustments for fore/aft and height. I really liked the seats in the Tiguan as they provided excellent comfort and firmness for any trip distance. But the Tiguan really surprises in the back seat with head and legroom similar to what you’ll find on a full-size SUV. Passengers sitting back here can also move the seats back and forth, and recline to make themselves more comfortable. The long length of the Tiguan allows for a third-row seat. The seat is standard on front-wheel drive models and optional for all-wheel drive variants. The third-row should only be used for small kids as there is a minuscule amount of legroom. Another downside to the third-row is cargo space. The third-row causes a significant reduction in cargo space. With the third-row folded, it offers 4.6 cubic feet less than the two-row variant (33 vs. 37.6). Fold the second-row and the reduction becomes larger - 7.8 cubic feet. I would recommend skipping the third-row option if you opt for an AWD Tiguan.
      Like the exterior, the CX-5’s interior stands out. The dash shows Mazda’s effort on trying to make their interiors feel more like a luxury vehicle with sculpted contours, brushed aluminum, soft-touch plastics with a grain texture, and stitching on certain trim pieces. Compared to the Tiguan, the CX-5’s control layout is more spread out, making it somewhat difficult to find and reach certain controls. 
      The Grand Touring tester featured power adjustments for both front seats. The seats will feel a bit too firm for some passengers, but I found them to be just right. It would have been awesome if Mazda provided ventilation for the front seats to bolster their premium ambitions. The CX-5’s back seat offers a decent amount of headroom for those under six-feet. Legroom is somewhat lacking when put against the competition. I found that my knees were almost touching the back side of the front seat. Cargo space is right in the middle with 30.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 59.6 when folded.
      Infotainment
      A seven-inch touchscreen featuring the Mazda Connect infotainment system and a rotary knob controller is standard on all CX-5s. Grand Touring models get navigation as standard, while the Touring gets it as an option. Mazda Connect is a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look somewhat old due to the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Also, trying to figure out which parts of the system are touch-enabled becomes quite tedious as there is no way to tell except through trial and error. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, but I’m hoping the 2019 model will get it.
      For the Tiguan, Volkswagen offers three different infotainment systems ranging from 6.5 to 8-inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard. The current Volkswagen infotainment system is one of the best thanks in part to snappy performance and a simple interface. You can do various smartphone gestures such as swiping to move around the system. One disappointment is the lack of any sort of haptic feedback when touching any of the shortcut buttons sitting on either side of the screen. We would also recommend keeping a cloth in the Tiguan as the glass surface for the infotainment system becomes littered with fingerprints.
      Like in the Atlas I reviewed a few weeks ago, the Tiguan experienced an issue with Apple CarPlay. Applications such as Google Music or Spotify running in CarPlay would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to unfreeze the applications unless I restarted the vehicle. Resetting my iPhone solved this issue.
      Powertrain
      Under the CX-5’s hood is a 2.5L four-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet (up one from the 2017 model). Mazda has added cylinder deactivation for the 2018 model that allows the engine to run on just two cylinders to improve fuel efficiency. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. For the Tiguan, Volkswagen has dropped in a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive complete the package.
      With a higher torque figure and being available between 1,600 to 4,300 rpm, the Tiguan should leave the CX-5 in the dust. But at the stoplight drag race, the CX-5 bests the Tiguan thanks to a sharper throttle response and a steady stream of power. The Tiguan’s turbo-four gets hit with a double-whammy of turbo-lag and a somewhat confused eight-speed automatic transmission, making it feel anything but eager to get off the line. As speeds climb, the story changes. The Tiguan’s engine feels more willing to get moving whenever you need to make a pass or merge onto a freeway. The CX-5’s engine runs out of steam and you’ll need to really work it to get up to speed at a decent rate.
      Fuel Economy
      The EPA says the 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD will return 24 City/30 Highway/26 Combined, while the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan AWD returns 21 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. Both models returned high fuel economy averages; the CX-5 return 28.5 while the Tiguan got 27.3 mpg during my week-long test. Both models were driven on mix of 60 percent city and 40 percent highway.
      Ride & Handling
      When I reviewed the 2017 Mazda CX-5, I said that it carried on the mantle of being a fun-to-drive crossover set by the first-generation. Driving on some of the back roads around Detroit, the CX-5 felt very agile and showed little body roll. The steering provides sharp responses and excellent weighting. The sporting edge does mean a firm ride, allowing some road imperfections to come inside. Not much road or wind noise comes inside.
      Volkswagen took a different approach with the Tiguan’s ride and handling characteristics. On rough roads, the Tiguan provides a very cushioned ride on some of the roughest payment. This soft ride does hurt the Tiguan when cornering as there is slightly more body roll. But that doesn’t make the Tiguan a bad driving crossover. The chassis feels very willing when pushed and the steering provides a direct feel.
      Value
      The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE AWD begins at $30,230. This particular tester came to $31,575 with the optional Habanero Orange Metallic and fog lights. But the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Touring comes with more equipment such as radar cruise control, lane departure warning, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, and power adjustments for the driver for only $2,175 less than the Tiguan SE’s base price. You can add navigation, Bose audio system, and sunroof as part of $1,200 Preferred Equipment package. When it comes to the midlevel, it is no contest as the CX-5 walks away.
      The script flips however when you put the 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring under the microscope. The AWD version begins at $30,945 and with a few options such as the Soul Red paint and Premium package, the vehicle seen here comes to $34,685. But you can get into the Tiguan SEL AWD that adds adaptive cruise control, power liftgate, and navigation for only $2,295 less than our as-tested CX-5. While the CX-5 does offer more of a premium interior, the larger interior and slightly better infotainment system give the Tiguan a slight edge.
      Verdict
      It feels weird to describe the verdict between the two compact crossovers as a decision to satisfy your desires or needs. The 2018 Mazda CX-5 falls into the former as it boasts a handsome look that very few models can match, luxurious interior, and handling characteristics that make you feel like you’re driving a sports car. As for the Tiguan, it falls in the latter camp by offering a spacious interior, smooth ride, and a better infotainment system. I consider these two to be the best-in-class. But deciding which one is better will ultimately come down to deciding whether to give into your wants or needs.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-5
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 186 @4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/30/26
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $30,945
      As Tested Price: $34,685 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Package - $1,395.00
      Soul Red Crystal Paint - $595.00
      Illuminated Door Sill Plates - $400.00
      Retractable Cover Cover - $250.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Tiguan
      Trim: SE 4Motion
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged 16-Valve DOHC TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 4,400
      Torque @ RPM: 221 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,858 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico
      Base Price: $30,230
      As Tested Price: $31,575 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Habanero Orange Metallic - $295.00
      Front Fog Lights - $150.00

      View full article
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