The all-new 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan arrives in stores later this year. It’s longer, lower, wider and lighter than this year’s model and will certainly earn our close scrutiny once it arrives.

For the time being, the 2016 VW Tiguan is the latest and greatest and though it’s not much different than the 2015 model I reviewed last year, it still easy to find five reasons to give this compact crossover SUV a close look.

Reason #1: The Volkswagen Tiguan is zippy

Most compact crossover SUVs are small and not particularly powerful. The Tiguan is a different animal altogether with a standard four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Honda CR-V offers 185 horses while the Hyundai Tucson has 175 ponies and the Mazda CX-5 makes only 155 horses. If you’re looking for a zippy, turbocharged ride, the Tiguan is an obvious choice.

Compared to most vehicles in the class, the Tiguan feels and drives sporty. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and though you feel some turbo lag, the engine feels responsive once it spools up. My friends and family members who rode in the Tiguan with me commented that it felt “zippy.” Notice I didn’t say “fast,” because the Tiguan isn’t. But “zippy” is a lot more fun than “boring” and the Tiguan certainly isn’t that, either.

You do pay a penalty for the power. Whether you choose the front-wheel or all-wheel-drive version of the Tiguan. Expect 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Choose the front-wheel drive Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5 and you’ll average 29 mpg. Meanwhile, the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape average 26 and 25 mpg respectively.

Reason #2: Various breeds of Tiguan

The Tiguan comes in a few flavors, including S, SE and SEL models, plus the more sporty R-Line models. 4Motion all-wheel drive is available on every type of Tiguan. The base S model starts at $24,890 and includes keyless access, push-button start and a rearview camera. Add all-wheel drive and the price climbs to $26,865.

The SE model starts at $31,390 and adds bi-xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof and the touchscreen navigation and audio system. All-wheel drive adds another $2,000 to the price.

The SEL model is the luxury version and adds leather seats, dual-zone climate controls and the Fender premium audio system, an upgrade I recommend if you’re a big music fan. It starts at $34,445 but reaches $36,420 if you add the all-wheel drive system.

The R-Line looks sporty thanks to an R-Line body kit and 19-inch wheels, but isn’t actually so sporty. It starts at $28,700 and the all-wheel drive version costs $30,675.

My test model was the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL 4Motion and added only minor upgrades, including a $530 trailer hitch and a $290 ball hitch system, which pushed the total price just over $38,100, including an $865 destination charge.

Reason #3: Cozy and refined inside

The Tiguan’s interior is like every other VW you know; refined and simple. Though it’s an older interior than many vehicles in its class — largely because the Tiguan hasn’t been significantly updated in years — the simplicity of the design has aged well. The five-inch touchscreen is updated for 2016, yet it’s still small for the class. Expect an 8-inch screen on the 2017 Tiguan.

What’s essential to know about the Tiguan is that it’s small on the inside compared to many vehicles in its class. We stacked some bags behind the rear seats for a weekend trip and quickly fell short of interior space. That’s because you only get 23.8 cubic feet of space back there, which is quite a bit less than you’ll find in the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson.

In daily driving, that smaller cabin wasn’t an issue as my friends and family all found ample head and legroom. If you’re a loyal Volkswagen fan and like the Tiguan — but prize interior space nearly as much as the brand itself — I suggest you wait a few months for the 2017 Tiguan, which will be wider, taller and longer and ensure you’ll have more space for people and stuff.

Reason #4: Still recommended by Consumer Reports

The 2016 Tiguan is recommended by Consumer Reports. In many cases, a “Recommended” rating by Consumer Reports is impacted directly by a vehicle’s reliability rating. If an exceptionally reliable vehicle is high on your list of “must have” features on the Tiguan, you’ll want to focus on recent models only. That’s because reliability was “poor” or “fair” on vehicles between 2009 and 2012. Reliability improved for the 2013 model and the 2014 model earned a “very good” rating.

For 2016, Consumer Reports’ editors expect the
Tiguan to prove average for the class. Good thing VW backs buyers with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

If reliability isn’t the high point of the Tiguan, what do Consumer Reports editors like so much? The vehicle’s agility, transmission, access, fit and finish, and roomy rear seat topped the list. Safety scores are decent, too. As always, the best way to know if the Tiguan fits your needs is a test drive.

Reason #5: Get a 2016 Tiguan at a discount

Since the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan should arrive in the summer of 2016, VW dealers may be motivated to move old Tiguans off their lots. Rebates and incentives are scarce as this review is written, but don’t be surprised to see prices drop as new Tiguans dominate discussions at VW dealerships this fall and winter.

A New Tiguan Looms on the Horizon

Last time I tested the Tiguan I was a bit underwhelmed. This time, however, I liked the Tiguan more than ever before. Perhaps it’s the higher ride height that provides a commanding view of the road. Perhaps it was the comfortable and streamlined interior of my SEL test model. Or perhaps it’s because I was simultaneously testing a full-size truck that made the Tiguan stand out in terms of drivability and desirability.

Whatever the reasons, the Tiguan, like its name, is cut from a different cloth and appeals to a different compact crossover driver. It’s not as spacious as a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, but it’s certainly more fun to drive.

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan photo copyright Waterdog Media, Inc.