On the outside, the Tigaun now wears the Walter De Silva-designed corporate face. It gives the little SUV a more aggressive appearance and looks more upscale than before. Higher spec models will come equipped with the now-ubiquitous LED daytime running lights that look modern and require less energy than traditional incandescent lights. VW has also added a new 19-inch alloy wheel to top-level cars, along with lower-rolling-resistance tires. The taillights now have a more elongated shape and give the entire back end a more cohesive aesthetic.

This is only considered a mid-cycle refresh for the Tiguan, but it feels like more than that. The suspension feels better sorted, and the steering more precise. It does have the feeling of a hot hatch, just slowed down a bit by the added height. Its looks, while more sedate, are now much classier and upscale than before. Volkswagen says marketing data reveal that the average Tiguan driver is younger and has a higher income than its rivals' customers. It delivers soft road performance while still being enthusiastic on-road. It may not be the perfect vehicle for the hard-core outdoorsman, but it's far more capable than the average urbanite in canvas sneakers.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan
BASE PRICE $25,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 4-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/200-hp/207-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSIONS 6-speed manual, 6-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT 3450-3650 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 102.5 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 174.5 x 71.2 x 67.0 in
0-60 MPH 0.0-0.0 sec (MT est, mfr est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 18-23/26-29 mpg (est)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 147-187/116-130 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.76-0.93 lb/mile (est)
ON SALE IN U.S. Fall 2011