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Momentum is a fickle commodity. When it’s on your side, it can be quite the ally. When going in the opposite direction, it’s a difficult opponent indeed.

A momentum swing has taken place with the Volkswagen Tiguan, which experienced lukewarm sales during its U.S. debut in 2009. Although sales are not yet off the charts for this compact crossover sport utility vehicle, “the big mo” is definitely headed in the right direction.

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The younger brother of the pricey Touareg (just under $44,000), the Tiguan has gradually gained some traction in the very competitive compact crossover class. Some nice additions to the 2012 Tiguan certainly helped make it more of an appealing buy.

Those changes a year ago included a restyled exterior, some automatic transmission modifications, and a slight increase in mileage by 2 mpg. The 2013 Tiguan doesn’t include any changes.

Even with the mileage increase to 20-26 mpg, that remains one of the knocks against the Tiguan. Class leaders like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape are all topping out at 31 mpg. And let’s face it, if you’re shopping for a small crossover SUV, mileage is one of the key selling points. Also note that premium gas is recommended for the Tiguan.

While mileage is not a strong characteristic, the Tiguan does much better in regards to performance. It features a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that yields 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The all-wheel drive Tiguan is quick for its class, clocked at 7.5 seconds going 0-60 mph.

The Tiguan is a versatile SUV in all types of situations, providing good passing capability in freeway driving, climbing hills with its assertive power, or motoring around town doing errands or commuting to work. It provides a confident, sporty ride when navigating challenging corners and is relatively quiet.

There are many positives with the interior as well. The Tiguan features smartly placed climate and audio controls that are both convenient and more intuitive than most. There are many soft-touch surfaces in a cabin that can be labeled well crafted. The Tiguan seats five and provides solid comfort, even in the second row, which has seats that slightly recline.

What the Tiguan doesn’t offer is enough cargo space; it’s not as roomy as many competitors. The Tiguan measures 23.8 cubic feet of cargo room, yet fold down the back seat and capacity is pretty good at 56.1 cubic feet.

Despite its improvements, when measured against the industry leaders, the Tiguan still comes up short. One area that it doesn’t fall short is price: the base model starts at $22,995. And a new Tiguan can climb to a high of $37,130.

2013 Volkswagen Tiguan

  • Performance: turbocharged 2.0-liter, four cylinder, 200 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 20-26 mpg
  • Price: $22,995 to $37,130
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000 miles
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