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Volkswagen drops the prices of some Tiguan crossover models for 2016, including R-Line

Here’s some good news for Volkswagen Tiguan fans: Volkswagen lowered the starting price by nearly $1,400 for 2016, and added a new MIB II infotainment system with USB connectivity and smartphone integration with VW Car-Net App-Connect technology.

The Tiguan is VW’s compact crossover, and for 2016, the revised lineup – S, R-Line, SE, and SEL – brought more standard content, with prices starting at $24,890 before options and accessories. The starting price will be only slightly higher for 2017 — $24,995.

V-Tex leatherette seating and door trim, heated seats and keyless access with pushbutton start are new standard features.

Also for 2016, the R-Line was positioned to a lower price point between the S and SE trims, making the sporty, aggressive model more accessible. The 2016 R-Line 4Motion model I tested had a base price of $30,675. (VW is discontinuing the R-Line version for 2017, however.)

A 200-horsepower turbocharged TSI four-cylinder engine is standard, with a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual shifting, Sport Mode and Dynamic Shift Program, paired with either front-wheel drive or 4Motion all-wheel drive (adds $1,975).

The R-Line has shifter paddles on the steering wheel. EPA ratings for the Tiguan are 21 mpg city and 26 highway.

Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive automatically delivers force to all four wheels without using buttons or levers, depending on where traction is needed. Most of the time, 90 percent of power goes to the front wheels (helps save fuel), only directing power to the rear axle when needed – accelerating from a standstill, for example.

With the new MIB II (modular information platform) infotainment system, Volkswagen becomes one of the first to support all three available connected car systems – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink – allowing users to access select apps directly though the vehicle’s head unit. The touch screen actually mirrors the phone screen and works in the same manner to operate Spotify, Pandora, phone, messages, GPS, and more. This process does, of course, consume your data plan.

The infotainment system is the foundation for the new VW Car-Net, which is divided into “Security & Service” for Automatic Crash Notification, Manual Emergency Call, Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, Speed Alert/Boundary Alert, Vehicle Health Report, new last-parked location, remote lock and unlock, remote destination, and more; “Guide & Inform” for enhanced navigation with real-time fuel prices, movie information and weather data, and more; and “App-Connect” for streaming music, mobile maps and other apps from connected smartphones (two simultaneously), as well as sending/receiving texts.

My Tiguan R-Line 4Motion MIB II system featured a standard 6.3-inch capacitive color touch display with proximity sensor (brings up a menu when sensors detect the presence of a hand), two SD card slots, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD radio, CD/AM/FM, support for lossless audio file format, USB/aux input, and eight speakers.

The R-Line Tiguan is offered in five exterior colors including Pepper Gray, Deep Black Pearl, and Reflex Silver Metallic – the color of my tester.

The Sporty Tiguan has a raked-back windshield, large side windows, and a trademark C-pillar in the rear.

My tester had a distinctive chrome ring around the side windows and R-Line-specific details such a roof spoiler, body-color side skirts with silver metallic inset, stylized rear bumper with horizontal silver metallic inset, R-Line badging on the grille (with two double horizontal chrome bars) and aluminum door sill scuff plates, stainless steel pedal covers and footrest, and silver metallic interior trim (surrounding eight dash-mounted air vents and the shift lever) with Titanium black headliner and perforated V-Tex leatherette seating – heated in the front.

Squared-off wheel arches with black plastic surround protect the paintwork, and a short front overhang allows a 28-degree approach angle for 4Matic off-roading. Standard silver anodized roof rails will carry bike racks, kayaks or surfboards, and an optional trailer hitch can accept a bike carrier or pull up to 2,200 pounds of trailered fun equipment.

Silver-painted 19-inch alloy wheels had five chiseled open-triangle spokes, with low-profile all-season tires. The disc brakes had a drying feature to help remove water from the rotors during wet weather to optimize braking.

The cabin was spacious, with room for five – four rode comfortably on a road trip, with plenty of room for luggage. The rear seats even slid forward about six inches for more cargo room, 28.3 cubic feet. With the seats folded forward, cargo space increases to 56.1 cubic feet. An optional folding front passenger seat allows for loads up to 98 inches long. Wide-opening doors gave easy access.

A 40/20/60 split rear seatback allowed the outboard passengers to fold the middle down for a nice armrest with cupholders, and to adjust the seatback for added comfort. The middle could have accommodated fishing gear, skis, or other long gear. A high-lifting rear door would accommodate large objects, tie-down hooks would hold everything in place, and a 12-volt outlet would power an air pump or a cooler.

Tiguan has several impressive safety features, including a crash-optimized front end with impact-absorbing elements, which compress during a collision to absorb energy from the impact, thus reducing the effect on occupants.

Crash-optimized pedal controls also feature deformation elements to disconnect the pedals and footrest, which then exert very little force on the lower extremities of the driver.

Anti-intrusion side door beams also add protection for outboard passengers, along with side-thorax air bags in the front and Side Curtain Protection head air bags front and rear.

VW’s Intelligent Crash Response System automatically shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if air bags are deployed. A strong, rigid laser-seam-welded shell and heat-formed steel B-pillars add to the protective cage surrounding the passengers.

With $865 freight added to the base price of $30,675, I had a comfortable, attractive, versatile, safe, sporty vehicle for $31,540.

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