Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A couple is shown near the rear lift gate of a white 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Looking for The One

You want a new compact SUV; that seems easy enough. You’re open to exploring various styles and brands in hopes of finding the right One. So you get online and begin researching, never realizing just how many SUVs are out there. There have to be dozens. But finally, finally! You manage to narrow it down to two similar vehicles, the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan vs 2022 Subaru Forester. Both are sexy-looking machines, but you can’t get both, and you’ve really been wanting something special, just for you.

You want The One. The One that won’t let you down and leave you stranded on the side of a dark street at 1 am in the snow. The One with that stellar sound system you’ve always wanted but never treated yourself to. The One with so many built-in features that it makes you feel uneasy because it just makes everything almost too convenient. The One who’s reliable and practical but still stylish and sleek. You want an SUV that can take you everywhere, on and off road with ease. You don’t want to make a mistake like last time, picking something on the fly just because it looked pretty sitting there in the lot, only to realize a mile down the road it wasn’t quite what you wanted but kept it anyway for reasons that you don’t even remember anymore. You’re in the position now once again to get what you want, and this time you’ll know The One when you see it.

So by just looking at their profiles, you think you’ve found The One; at least contenders for such. Both are compact, tough but refined looking, sport SUVs. In their photos, they are each blue: the Tiguan a refined dark cobalt, the Forester a sporty lapis. You’re intrigued and decide it’ll come down to one of these. There has to be some difference; they can’t possibly both be the same. You take a sip of coffee and decide it can’t be as complicated as all that. You’ll just start from the beginning. Your eyes slide over to the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan; it’s so confident and understated. It starts at $25,995, which fits your budget perfectly; it’s almost too good to be true. Okay, so you click over and check out the Subaru Forester hoping maybe the price will be the deal-breaker. That would be easy, right? $25,195! That’s practically the same. They both hold five passengers and have roughly the same cargo space. You have no choice but to go on.

A white 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is shown speeding down an empty highway.

Under the Hood

You turn back to Tiguan, examining its specs. It doesn’t disappoint. A compact sport SUV with a 2.0L I-4 Turbo engine, 184 horsepower with 221 lb-ft of torque. Wow, that sounds…amazing. And the Subaru Forester? 2.5L Boxer-4 engine. Hmm, that sounds fine. You expected they’d be close. But wait, you look closer at the Forest and finally see a glaring difference right away, 182 horsepower with only 176 lb-ft. That’s worth noting. The VW Tiguan is looking better and better. You can sense your decision is coming into focus. But still, you have to be sure and decide it’s smart to continue researching.

Since you’re on a budget and you care about the planet, naturally fuel economy is a big part of this. Both brands are known to have a good track record, but it’s always smart to double-check these things. In comparing the two, you see the VW Tiguan at 23 MPG city and 30 MPG highway, while the Subaru Forester is at 26 MPG city and 33 MPG highway. Again very close, but you still can’t take your eye off that VW. The torque and horsepower blow the Forester out of the water.

It’s What’s Inside That Matters

You decide to move on to trim options because while you’re practical, you still want some style, a little pizzazz to go along with it. Looking briefly over both, you notice there’s a lot to take in and decide to make a list to help sort through everything. After all, the devil is always in the details.

  • Tiguan S: $25,995 – which includes, among other things, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen.
  • Tiguan SE: $29,495 – adds not just the previous features but upgrades the 6.5-inch touchscreen to an 8-inch MIB3 infotainment with voice control. That’s useful. Plus, a panoramic sunroof option and an upgrade to 18-inch alloy wheels. This just keeps getting better and better.
  • Tiguan SE R-Line Black: $32,295 – Adds a little more on top of the previous features with 19-inch wheels and the sunroof coming standard on this model.
  • Tiguan SEL R-Line: $36,595 – And last but not least? Includes all the previously listed features plus standard 4MOTION all-wheel drive. And just to make it a little fun, a heated steering wheel for those times when you forget your gloves. That’s so considerate.

A silver 2022 Subaru Forester Touring is shown from the side during a 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan vs 2022 Subaru Forester competition.

Your mind feels made up, but in the interest of being fair, you want to give the Forester a fair shot. Right away, you feel like it’s trying too hard–six trims! That’s six too many. But again, you want to make the right choice because this SUV is going to hold a special place in your life. You’re going to see it every day, depend on it, so it has to be right. So let’s check this out:

  • Base: $25,195 – Included in the base are all-wheel drive and the 2.5L engine. Plus, the pick of four different body colors. It’s worth noting the base also has the option of several packages to choose from, each with its own modifications.
  • Premium: $28,195 – The premium package adds more body hues to choose from, plus three additional add-on packages that include small tweaks like blind spot monitoring and a power rear gate.
  • Sport: $29,795 – Once again, nearly identical to the previous trim but with fewer color options and a package that includes a reverse braking system. So far, none of this presents any stand-out features. But you’re halfway through, so you continue on to the last three trim options, thinking perhaps there’s something that will leap out at you.
  • Wilderness: $32,820 – The wilderness package sounds pretty rugged; you do like hiking. Hmm. All-terrain tires, skid plates, increased ground clearance…that might be a little much for your mostly suburban driving.
  • Limited: $31,875 – Okay, so limited has some nice color choices with names like Crimson Red Pearl and Autumn Green Metallic. Plus, a navigation system and a heated steering wheel. That’s kinda nice, but nothing the Tiguan doesn’t offer.
  • Touring: $35,29 – And lastly, the touring edition comes with tons of colors! That’s cool. Aztec Red is nice, and so is Brilliant Bronze Metallic. But other than that, the offerings feel a little lackluster, offering nothing outstanding for the price. Hmm.

So far, the two models seem to be very close, with the Tiguan seeming to offer a bit more bang for the buck, not to mention looking a little more sleek and contemporary than its counterpart. The Tiguan just has an effortlessly chic appearance compared to the Forester, which almost has to beg for you to notice it. It’s not bad per se, but there’s something that’s just missing.

Choosing a Winner

You consider this from all sides, putting together the pros and cons. They are similar models, the 2022 Tiguan and 2022 Forester, yes, but the differences they do have stand out. The Tiguan has Volkswagen Car-Net. This mobile phone app comes with convenience features like driveview remote commands. Plus plenty of add-on features. So it’s great for commuters, singles, and families alike. And while the Forester has some cool features, it just can’t seem to compete when it comes to the Tiguan and its up-to-date technology like Volkswagen’s IQ.Drive features.

The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan is a handsome compact SUV that fits in both city and country, and more importantly, fits your needs and wants, making your busy life easier with voice control technology, reliability, and more, all the while radiating an understated elegance. It’s everything you’ve been looking for.