I ride it out for what seems like a good two minutes, still on one straight-legged heel, my other leg tucked up to my body. The arm holding the camera is out in front for maximum impact protection, while the other flails wildly around my torso in random figure eights in an effort to regain my balance. Sadly there was no video camera present, but I'm confident I looked like an ostrich trying to fly with just one wing. Eventually my death match with nature ended with another crushing victory for gravity. I hit the ground hip first with a big ska-voooosh. No injuries to me or the camera.

After brushing myself off and sifting through the forest floor for what was left of my pride, I got back in the Tiguan for more off-roading. Even over rocks and thick branches the ride is smooth and quiet with very little of the impact transmitted into the cabin. On the trails, steering feedback is there, but never rips at your hands. Although it wasn't put to what off-roaders would call a definitive test, the 4-motion all-wheel drive provided surefooted traction that 99% of buyers will never even test.

When the Tiguan was launched in 2008 the corporate ballyhoo touted it as the GTI of SUVs. It was a capable soft-roader, but true off-roading was never really a consideration. After almost five years and 700,000 units of experience, VW is still convinced that the vast majority of Tiguans will never see anything more than a dirt parking lot.