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A Brave, New EV World

Talk to your ID.4 and it'll make friends with you as you navigate this brave new world of battery electric vehicles.

 

CLIFF LEPPKE'S CYBER SEAT

VW’s Revamped 2022 Tiguan; VW Intros AWD ID.4

Tiguan is VW’s best selling vehicle worldwide.  For model year 2022, the U.S. version gets a new expressive face with LED headlights, eight-inch Digital Cockpit instruments (10.25-inch optional) and keyless entry and start.  Other available features include Climatronic Touch (steering wheel with touch controls), 15-color ambient lighting and Park Assist (self-parking steering).  

VW’s Front Assist and Side Assist are standard on all trims.  VW’s IQ.DRIVE is optional on the base “S” model; standard on second-level trim SE and up to SEL R-Line.  It adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go, plus Lane Assist.

VW describes the Tiguan’s exterior as sharpened and the interior as redefined.  MSRP starts at $27,190.  Heated front seats are standard, while heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats are optional.  Leatherette wraps the steering wheel on lower trims, upper ones get a leather-wrapped sports wheel.

Tiguan SE and high get touch-screen climate controls with voice commands.  You can say, “Hello Volkswagen, my feet are cold.”  Then the Tiguan will toast your popsicle toes.  The infotainment screen’s capacitive touch-sensor doesn’t need much pressure to operate it.  It responds to sliding and pinching motions.  

All Tiguans models have Drive Mode selection.  You can tailor steering effort and throttle response.  

Expect the two-motor all-wheel-drive version of VW’s ID.4 battery electric vehicle by late this year.  Scott Keogh, VWoA’s CEO, says it costs $3,600 more than the rear-drive version.  Leases start at $439 per month.  VW is pushing leasing nationwide as a means of retaining control of the vehicle’s battery for recycling purposes.  Meanwhile, VW’s preparing an addition to its Chattanooga plant in order to build the ID.4 during June 2022. Expect a shorter-range ID.4 priced less than $35,000.  

CLIFF LEPPKE'S VW REVIEWS

2021 VW Atlas SEL Basecamp: A La Carte Brawny Poser

Literary critic Susan Sontag wrote the primer on Camp.  She says Camp is relishing in style for style’s sake, deliberately artificial, too much to be real.

VW’s Basecamp treatment (dealer-installed) lets you decide whether you’ll cross the line from camp to Sontag’s Camp, akin to turning Barbie’s Ken into GI’s Joe.  The fee for going Basecamp varies—about $4,500 as tested.  Less for just the Basecamp bumper bits.

Air Design USA dresses the bumper inserts and body cladding with the now cliché mountain/mesa cliche graphics.  VW supplies a new grille flanked by new-smaller IQ.Light (LED matrix) headlamps. Fake exhaust outlets embellish the rear.

For shoes, try:  Fifteen 52’s 17-inch special alloy wheels.  Clad with Continental tires, the Atlas nails everyday driving ease.  There’s better dry-road road sense then you’d expect.

Basecamp is all show, no meaningful mechanical upgrades.   VW recommends a trailer kit, though. Go full Basecamp and you get special fender badges.  As such, the Atlas doesn’t seem as outrageous or corny as Disco-era Camp: opera windows, hood ornaments and padded vinyl roofs.

The 2021 Atlas’ forte is its voluminous interior.  All seven perches in VW’s chariot are adult-sized, although the well-stuffed aft folding chairs are slab-like.  The middle-split row kneels for third-row access.  VW snubs the driver—no overhead grab handle.

From the driver’s throne, notice VW’s newly minted steering wheel, fresh logo and fancy switchgear.  Lots of buttons are gerrymandered into the hub or spokes.  While some are awkwardly shaped, their elevations help you manipulate them by feel.  For toasty hands, click the steering wheel’s heat button.

In SEL trim, you get VW’s Digital Cockpit and other items poached from VW’s passenger cars.  These look out of scale.  But you can configure gauges to suit.

While video Cockpit is chic, the dashboard and door panel inserts are plastic-icky—unacceptable when the MSRP with Basecamp finery tops $50K.  At night, LED ambient lighting, strung from the dashboard into the doors, adds interest.  And VW’s contrasting stitching on seats and door panels lighten the noirish interior.

A knob lets you customize the 4Motion driveline.  Plus, you adjust the ID Drive’s level of intervention—a now mostly standard driver-assist pack.  On a dry highways, the Atlas has nicely weighted steering and some road sense.  Expect modest wind rush, good ride damping but some suspension pounding.  Body roll is obvious.  The Atlas’ size makes tight maneuvers difficult.  Parking aids, in contrast, are helpful.

In the go department, the 3.6-liter V-6 narrow-angle mill mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission is adequate.  It hums pleasantly and eked out 17 mpg during wintry weather.  A start/stop feature reduces idling.

Loading via the easy-open liftgate requires a stretch beyond the bumper.  All aft seats fold flat for generous luggage space.  Should you want to stow and go in a brawny poser, head to your VW dealer for an Atlas.  The parts department has Basecamp accessories.

WHAT IS THE VWCA?

The VWCA (Volkswagen Club of America) is a not-for-profit hobby club for owners and enthusiasts of Volkswagen and Audi automobiles. Founded in 1955, the Club has followed the evolution of Volkswagen from the early air-cooled Beetle to the latest models to roll off the assembly line. We are not owned by, affiliated with or sponsored by Volkswagen AG or Volkswagen of America, the Importer. The Club is operated and managed solely by volunteer members who contribute their time and energy in pursuit of our motto, "to help Volkswagen and Audi owners enjoy their cars to the fullest." Read about the club's history.

 

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