Best In Class 2012 Compact Crossover SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan
2012 VW Tiguan Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Compact Crossover SUV give the vehicle top ratings in sixteen of forty-eight categories in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Owners give the Tiguan top ratings for: Seating Capacity, Flexible Seating, Vehicle’s Reputation, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Quality Feeling of Controls, Brand of Audio System, Visibility, Cupholders, Tire Size/Brand/Appearance, Environmental Friendliness, Infotainment Technology, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings, Overall Quality and Durability. With a maximum score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points, a score of 4.5 or higher is considered very good. Tiguan owners rated their vehicle at 4.5 or higher in: Overall Satisfaction, Seating Capacity, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Exterior Styling, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Handling, Fun to Drive, Reliability, Visibility, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings and Overall Quality. There are five ratings under 4.0 satisfaction rating points: Cargo Space, Fuel Economy, Cruising Range, Recyclability and Collision Avoidance Technology. This is a very strong performance by Tiguan showing VW’s strengths in interior and exterior styling and materials selection are clearly appreciated by its owner group.
Long ago, back in 1991, Nissan launched what many thought of as the spiritual successor to the BMW 2002: the Nissan Sentra SE-R. It was a lightweight and tossable compact car that was inexpensive and an absolute blast to drive. Since then, Nissan has kept the SE-R name alive in subsequent generations of Sentra, but each one has gotten less and less thrilling.
Fast forward to 2011. Around the world, automakers are bringing small and sporty crossovers to the marketplace, addressing younger and more style-conscious consumers’ need for entry level vehicles with space and standout style. Nissan has jumped into the fray with the Juke, a product designed first and foremost for the European market. The U.S., which seems to prefer its crossover products big and bulky, is a secondary market. However, given that today’s younger Americans are expressive, enjoy technology, often accept miniaturized products, and value standout design, Juke has found its way across the pond nonetheless.
Ever since the Lexus RX300 first hit the streets thirteen (!) years ago, the sensibly-sized luxury crossover has been hugely desirable among the upwardly mobile. Over time, the segment has grown by leaps and bounds, not just in terms of sales but more recently in terms of the sheer number of players. Over the past couple years, the Europeans joined the fray with the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and Volvo XC60. And last year, Cadillac ditched the slow-selling and somewhat cumbersome three-row SRX with the smaller and more pert SRX seen here. Wait a minute, don’t we Americans always want bigger? What’s the deal here?
I’m rarely one to toot my own horn, but I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way: there’s a bit of me in the brand-new 2010 Hyundai Tucson. Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was a product planner at Hyundai who was tasked with finding and developing a new concept direction for the second generation Tucson. The first Tucson, which debuted for the 2005 model year, was a decent if uninspiring small crossover SUV, and Hyundai really wanted to hit the second generation out of the park.
Has Honda developed yet another blended vehicle–or just a big hatchback? On sale since November 2009, the Accord Crosstour aims to be a modern and stylish CUV. To our eyes, it is more like a hatchback on steroids. Honda’s not the only maker exploring this shape, as it is not unlike the idea behind the BMW 5-Series GT or Toyota’s Venza or Acura’s ZDX (the larger and more expensive ZDX is not a Crosstour in different metal). Accord Crosstour offers everything you expect from the Accord, wrapped in a new shape. Is that enough?
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, most people we’ve talked to have not found beauty the shape of the Crosstour. A love-it-or-hate-it shape can be great for image and buzz. But it seems to be difficult to find the love-it Crosstour crowd, at least relative to styling.
Pontiac‘s Vibe Slam event was webcast at www.pontiacunderground.com, introducing the 2009 Pontiac Vibe to the media and a Pontiac fan base all at the same time. Pontiac chose Detroit-area artists, vocalists, and poets to help, showcasing talent that they felt personified Pontiac energy and style. Before we heard from the marketing, design, engineering, and development guys, three vocalists dramatized the distinct personalities of three Vibe models (base, AWD, and GT). Each described their lifestyle in automotive terms tailored toward each Vibe model (Vibe, Vibe AWD, and Vibe GT).
Despite talented performers with smart and clever lines, the event’s vibe didn’t drive the excitement Pontiac was looking for in the sparse live audience, most of whom might have been a little past the target age bracket. The point of these presentations is showing off the image, improvements, and benefits of a new car, but this one tried too hard.
Poets aside, Pontiac brings an evolutionary Vibe to its showrooms next spring. The Vibe is versatile, the right size for many, and has the attributes to fill the image Pontiac wants. The AWD model is set to evoke an SUV look while the GT addresses those looking for a speed-racer mindset with manual transmission, bodykit, and rear spoiler. The base car looks competent but not cheap. But buyers are always the ones who determine the cool factor, and we were fed adjectives over information. (Click to see the presentation
yourself, or for a short YouTube interview
with the three vocalists.)
Back in September, VehicleVoice had the chance to drive the Infiniti FX35. Our driving impressions were largely positive giving it a thumbs up for those interested in an unconventional CUV, without a whole lot of “U”. With an FX back into our fleet recently, we’re given a chance to update our impressions.
The Saturn Outlook is a large Crossover SUV based on the General Motors’ Lambda platform. The Lambda platform is shared with the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia and also with an upcoming Chevrolet large Crossover.
Has GM Nailed Crossover SUV Execution?
First, you might be asking “what is a Crossover SUV”? For years, we at VehicleVoice have been avoiding using the “crossover” word because, frankly, our research shows that consumers are not yet using the term widely. In our eyes, an SUV is an SUV is an SUV. Our chief industry oracle, Jim Hall, always referred to Crossovers as “mongrelhalfbreedbastards”. But, with vehicles like the Outlook hitting the market we’ve decided to use the Crossover moniker.
Basically, a Crossover SUV takes the basic SUV theme and civilizes it. SUV drivers have for decades been asking for more maneuverable, more economical, more easy to live with SUVs. Crossover SUVs are the answer and the GM Lambda vehicles are the latest examples of Crossover SUV design and execution. We think GM has pretty well nailed it.
Pricing Makes Outlook a Persuasive Proposition
The Saturn Outlook XR that we evaluated is a mid-priced model listing at about $33,250. When you check the boxes you really want – like all wheel drive and a navigation system the price slips over $41,000. When you check ALL the boxes and add a moonroof and rear seat entertainment system you can touch $45,000. For a Saturn!
While you might think that is a high price, the base, base, base price of the FWD Outlook XE (the lower model) is about $28,000 including destination. This puts it mid-way between the base price of a Ford Explorer and Expedition. Given that Outlook is about the size of a Chevrolet Tahoe – priced about $4,000 more with a V8, the Saturn looks like a good deal.