Bottom line: If you want efficient haulers, look at the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe or even the Volvo XC-60 on the higher end. Shop for the Volkswagen Tiguan only if your primary concern is on-the-road performance.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The Tiguan gets excellent marks in all three.

Head-turning-quotient: Stately and attractive, with slight restyles for 2012. It looks like a smaller version of the big Volkswagen Touareg SUV.

Body style/layout: The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact, front-engine wagon with four side doors and a rear hatch. It is available in six iterations: base S, slightly better equipped LE, popularly equipped S 4Motion, up-level SE 4Motion, top-of-the-line SEL and SEL 4Motion.

Engine/transmission: The 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion driven for this column comes standard with a 2-liter, turbocharged, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing (200 horsepower, 207 foot-pounds of torque). It is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo capacity with rear seats raised is 23.8 cubic feet. With those seats lowered, cargo capacity is 56.1 cubic feet, rather unremarkable for its class. The fuel tank holds 16.8 gallons of gasoline. Keep in mind that the Tiguan runs with a turbocharged, high-compression engine. Premium gasoline is recommended for best performance.

Mileage: Nothing to cheer about. I got 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment for the 2012 Volkswagen SE 4Motion includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel antilock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic stability and traction control; pre-collision safety system; side and head air bags and child safety-seat anchors.

Price: The base price for the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion is $30,590. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $29,367. Price as tested is $31,840, including $1,890 for the power panoramic glass roof and onboard navigation system (without backup camera) and an $820 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $30,532.