2021 Volkswagen Tiguan

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: Beautifully Bland

The world of compact crossover SUVs is filled with all kinds of offerings, some great, others not so great, and some, like the Volkswagen Tiguan, fall comfortably in the middle. While living in the shadow of those at the top of the class, this doesn't mean that the Tiguan is a bad car - it's just not that exciting. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is disappointing, to say the least, and its driving dynamics also let it down, but Volkswagen's build quality and safety tech remain top-notch and help to bring the Tiguan back into contention. Starting at $25,245, the Tiguan goes up against the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Tiguan?

With a significant update on the horizon, the automaker has decided to keep changes to a minimum for the new VW Tiguan. Both the base model and SE now roll on a new set of 17-inch wheels, and the SE also gets standard adaptive cruise control. The top-of-the-range SEL Premium R-Line gets a power-adjustable front passenger seat for 2021, and the latest MIB3 infotainment system is now standard on upper trims.

Pros and Cons

  • Smooth ride
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Optional third-row seats
  • Refined interior design
  • Not very fuel-efficient
  • Tight third row
  • There's a new one on the way

Best Deals on Tiguan

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$25,245
SE
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,395
SE R-Line Black
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$30,595
SEL Premium R-Line
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$39,095

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Exterior

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is not a bad car to look at, but it is reserved compared to competitors such as the Mazda CX-5. The base model features black roof rails, automatic headlights and LED taillights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The SE includes heated windshield washer nozzles and two-tone 17-inch wheels. On the SE R-Line Black, you'll get a standard panoramic sunroof, fog lights, 20-inch wheels, and unique R-Line styling features, including a black grille, door accents, black window trim, and black mirror caps. Further up in the lineup, the Tiguan gains LED headlights.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Front View Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Rear View Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Side View Volkswagen
See All 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Exterior Photos

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Dimensions

Classified as a compact crossover, the Volkswagen Tiguan SUV compares in dimensions to the Honda CR-V, although seeing it in pictures might make you believe it is larger. This VW rolls on a 109.8-inch wheelbase and is 185.1 inches long, three inches longer than the CR-V. The Tiguan is 72.4 inches in width, stands 66.3 inches tall, and has a front track of 62.2 inches and a rear track of 61.8 inches. The base model weighs 3,757 pounds, while AWD versions tip the scales at 3,847 lbs.

  • Length 185.1 in
  • Wheelbase 109.8 in
  • Height 66.3 in
  • Max Width 72.4 in
  • Front Width 62.2 in
  • Rear Width 61.8 in

Volkswagen Tiguan SUV Exterior Colors

The 2021 Tiguan exterior is stylish yet reserved, like most VW products, and the range of paint colors on offer reflects this grown-up look perfectly. The base model features most of the colors and includes Pyrite Silver Metallic, Deep Black Pearl, Platinum Gray Metallic, Pure White, and Atlantic Blue Metallic. The SE adds two more colors to the palette, namely Cardinal Red Metallic and Stone Blue Metallic. The SE R-Line Black's moodier color palette is made up of only Pure White, Pyrite Silver, Platinum Gray, and Deep Black Pearl to complement its dark exterior detailing. Finally, the SEL Premium R-Line is available in all colors besides the Cardinal Red. The Tiguan can be a real undercover SUV when painted in ordinary white or black, but to really stand out, Blue Silk Metallic or Cardinal Red Metallic is recommended.

  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Pure White
  • Pyrite Silver Metallic
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Atlantic Blue Metallic
  • Stone Blue Metallic
  • Cardinal Red Metallic

2021 Tiguan Performance

The humble compact crossover SUV was never meant to be a performance-minded track weapon, and although some manufacturers have gone down that route, the VW Tiguan firmly remains a suburban family transport that offers mild performance levels. Under the hood of every 2021 Tiguan lies a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which sends its power to the front or all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Outputs are rated at 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, the Tiguan lags behind the competition in terms of performance. According to independent testing, the FWD variant will do the 0 to 60 sprint in a leisurely 8.2 seconds, while the 4Motion AWD version will do the same run in 9.1 seconds. The Honda CR-V, by comparison, makes use of a smaller 1.5-liter turbo engine but will out-accelerate the Tiguan. Expect a top speed of no more than 114 mph. The Tiguan is not the best at hauling either, with a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 lbs, matching the CR-V, whereas the RAV4 TRD can pull an impressive 3,500 lbs. Unfortunately, the R-Line's cool looks adds no performance whatsoever, and the base FWD model would be the one to go for if you're after maximum go.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Front View Driving Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Rear View Driving Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Wheel Volkswagen

Engine and Transmission

Volkswagen makes things easier for the car-buying public by offering a single engine option. The 2021 Tiguan is exclusively available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This might sound promising, as the smaller 1.5-liter engine in the Honda CR-V already pulls rather nicely, but unfortunately, the extra capacity does not translate into a better engine here. The Tiguan feels sluggish from pull off, and things don't really improve from there on out. The Tiguan produces 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, and in city traffic, it feels drowsy at best, with turbo lag holding up any sort of eager surge lower in the rev band. Once the turbo kicks in, the 221 lb-ft of torque makes itself known, but in the real world, that's too little, too late. On the highway, things improve slightly, but don't expect massive overtaking ability. If it's power you're after, the Mazda CX-5 is offered with a turbocharged four-pot that delivers 250 hp. The eight-speed transmission is smooth enough, and while the car will hesitate to provide a lower gear in manual mode, it is still the best way to drive the vehicle if you're in any sort of rush.

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Despite its lackluster engine, which puts a severe damper on the overall driving experience, the Tiguan manages to claw back some driver points in the driving and handling department. As can be expected from a Volkswagen product aimed at transporting families and lots of cargo, the Tiguan offers a compliant and well-balanced driving experience. At low speeds, a test drive will reveal that it absorbs road imperfections with no complaints and feels adequately comfortable in the city, where it will spend the majority of its life. It is an accomplished cruiser and should make for an excellent companion on long road trips out on the highway. Pushing through the corners does reveal a few faults, however. The FWD vehicle can get unsettled through mid-corner bumps, and the light steering that is so well adjusted to city driving offers very little feedback when pushing on, and numbs the overall driving experience. The 4Motion AWD system gives the Tiguan an added sense of stability and would be highly recommended for those living in snowy or wet conditions throughout the year. Brake pedal feel is soft, but it will bring the car to a stop in a respectable distance with enough motivation. With a slightly lifted ride-height, the Tiguan can handle some very light off-road work, but city driving remains the best option.

2021 Tiguan Gas Mileage

With a considerable curb weight and turbocharged power under the hood, the Tiguan will never win any fuel economy awards, but it is still respectable compared to the competition. According to the EPA, the 2021 Tiguan will achieve its best fuel consumption figure of 23/29/25 mpg (city/highway/combined) in FWD guise. On the other hand, the Honda CR-V will deliver an excellent 28/34/30 mpg in its most frugal configuration. In AWD guise, the Tiguan will see a slight drop in economy to 21/27/24 mpg. FWD models are equipped with a 15.9-gallon fuel tank, while AWD versions get a larger 16.4-gallon tank, equating to a maximum range of between 394 and 398 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.3 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 23/29 mpg
* 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T S FWD

Tiguan Interior

Volkswagen is well-known for building premium quality interiors, even in its most humble offerings, so it comes as no surprise that the Tiguan interior is a stylish and well-crafted space. The dashboard layout is clean, simple, and easy to use, which is a boon in such a family-oriented car. The choice of materials is also spot-on and encompasses lots of soft-touch plastics along with leatherette or genuine leather seats on upper trims. Seat comfort is also good in the front, with power-adjustability in higher-spec models making things even better. Base model variants feature manual air conditioning and manually-adjustable cloth seats. The SE introduces dual-zone climate control, keyless access, V-Tex leatherette seats with heating in front, and a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support. The SE R-Line Black gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and stainless steel pedal caps, while SEL models feature a heated steering wheel. The infotainment system is offered in 6.5-inch and eight-inch configurations.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Steering Wheel Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Dashboard Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Rear Passenger Seats Volkswagen
See All 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

As standard, the Tiguan seats seven occupants across three rows, although the third row is optional on AWD versions from the SE trim and above. Getting in and out of the Tiguan is simple, thanks to sizable front and rear doors, as well as a moderate ride height that won't strain tall or short passengers. The Tiguan's front seats are supportive and comfortable and should keep the driver and front passenger happy on longer trips. The rear seats don't offer as much support but are comfortable enough. In terms of space, front-seat passengers are offered more than enough legroom and headroom, and six-foot-tall occupants will have no trouble finding a comfortable seating position. In the second row, the same applies; there is ample legroom and headroom for adult passengers. Models fitted with third-row seating can access that space via a lever on the second-row bench, but this row should be reserved for children only.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.2 in
  • Front Head Room 39.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.5 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.1 in

VW Tiguan Interior Colors and Materials

Even in base form, the Volkswagen Tiguan offers solid materials that will last the lifetime of the car itself. The base model features cloth seats in your choice of Storm Gray or Titan Black. The SE introduces V-Tex leatherette seats in the same colors that feel almost as good as the real thing and should stand up to the onslaught of small children. At this level, there is also a leatherette-trimmed steering wheel. SEL models also get leatherette seats, while the SEL R-Line Black introduces a leather-wrapped steering wheel with an R-Line badge, and pedals with stainless steel caps. Finally, the SEL Premium R-Line gains Vienna leather seats with an additional color choice: Saffrano and Black. The cabin of the Tiguan is finished off in soft plastics, and brushed-aluminum-look trim pieces.

Tiguan Trunk and Cargo Space

The compact crossover segment is highly competitive, and one area where these vehicles can't fall short is in overall cargo capacity. With two seating configurations, the cargo and trunk space of the VW Tiguan will depend on how much room is required for both passengers and storage. The two-row version gets a roomy 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is slightly less than you get in the Honda CR-V. Fold down the second row and that space opens up to 73.5 cubes, which is once again somewhat less than the Honda (75.8 cubic feet). If you need to squeeze in the third row, the trunk space decreases to 12 cubic feet, opening up to 33 cubic feet behind the second row, and finally to 65.7 cubic feet behind the first row. Small items can be stored in the glovebox, front center armrest storage bin, deep door pockets, and front and rear cupholders.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Trunk Space Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Trunk Space with Seat Folded Volkswagen
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Maximum Cargo Space Volkswagen

Tiguan Infotainment and Features

Features

All models in the US lineup are well equipped across the range, with the top-spec version feeling decidedly premium. The base model features manual air-conditioning, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera system, and USB ports for data and charging. Standard safety systems across the range include forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and pedestrian monitoring. SE models add Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, a leatherette multi-function steering wheel, keyless access with push-button start, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, heated front seats, a ten-way power driver's seat with power-adjustable lumbar support, a second-row air vent, Wi-Fi connectivity, and wireless phone charging. The SE R-Line Black gets a leather-trimmed steering wheel and front/rear parking sensors. Progressing to the SEL adds Volkswagen's digital cockpit, remote start, and a heated steering wheel. Finally, the SEL Premium R-Line includes interior ambient lighting, high beam control, genuine leather seats, three-position memory for the driver's seat, and a top-view camera system.

Infotainment

The refined interior of the Tiguan features a capable MIB infotainment system that works well enough and should be easy to get to grips with by most drivers. On the S variant, there is a rather small 6.5-inch color touchscreen display with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth streaming, App-Connect, an SD card slot, and Volkswagen Car-Net Safe & Secure. The SE adds SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month trial subscription, a larger eight-inch touchscreen display, and voice control. The SEL and SEL Premium R-Line get integrated navigation, but all models enjoy Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit instrument cluster features a ten-inch TFT display and comes standard on the SEL and SEL Premium R-Line. If music is a highlight in your life, consider going with the SEL Premium R-Line, which comes standard with a nine-speaker Fender sound system. Other derivatives make do with a six-speaker sound system.

Tiguan Problems and Reliability

Don't let the haters tell you that VW cars are unreliable. It's the perfect example of a trustworthy VW; in reviews of the VW Tiguan by J.D. Power, it scored a solid 81 out of a possible 100, with a specific 83/100 score for quality and reliability. The 2021 Tiguan is yet to be recalled, but the 2020 model has faced two recalls, the first due to an incorrectly torqued third-row seat belt anchor bolt, and the second for a front seat backrest frame that wasn't welded properly. Volkswagen covers the 2021 Tiguan with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a four-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a maintenance plan valid for two years or 20,000 miles.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 20,000 Miles

Tiguan Safety

The Tiguan is an SUV that prioritizes its occupants' safety at all times and is one of the safest vehicles when compared to the competition. While there is no review for the Volkswagen Tiguan for 2021 by the IIHS yet, the 2020 Tiguan did receive a Top Safety Pick rating from the authority, making it one of the safest in its class. At the NHTSA, the 2021 Tiguan hasn't received an overall rating just yet, but it did attain a five-star side crash rating, although the agency pointed out that in the side barrier test, the driver's door unlatched. The crossover attained a four-star rollover rating.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Being awarded a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS doesn't come easily, and only vehicles with the best safety tech make the cut. The Tiguan is one of those cars and is packed with advanced driver-assistance systems. The base model comes with standard stability control, ABS/EBD brakes, and a suite of six airbags (dual front, front side, and side curtain). Standard active driver assistance systems include forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and pedestrian monitoring. The SE adds adaptive cruise control, while the SEL and above offer standard lane keep assist. The top three trims have park distance control, but only the SEL R-Line includes a surround-view camera system, with the rest limited to a rearview camera.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan a good car?

The compact crossover SUV market is one of the most competitive in the automotive world, and the race is heating up by the day. This means that automakers need to bring their A-game, and in this case, Volkswagen has only managed to deliver a B-grade effort at best. As a whole, there is nothing much wrong with the car; it is handsome, if not a bit understated, but that will appeal to a significant number of buyers. The same can be said about the interior, which features a typical VW design that is restrained and simplistic. Inside, the Tiguan is beautifully put together and there's a generous amount of passenger space. The fact that the Tiguan can be configured with seven seats is also a significant bonus, but that severely compromises trunk space with all the seats folded up. Standard features and tech are good, and the standard infotainment system works well. So, what exactly is wrong with it? The Tiguan loses out on the mechanical side of things. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine offers below-average acceleration and fails to inspire confidence. It rides well enough but isn't as exciting to drive as competitors like as the Mazda CX-5, and its gas mileage figures are average at best. The Tiguan is let down by its drivetrain and general lack of inspiration but will still make a capable family SUV for those who like its understated styling, premium feel, and competitive price tag.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan?

Despite its German badge, the Volkswagen Tiguan is still a relatively affordable player in the crossover game. Depending on how much you want to spend, the Tiguan lineup offers something for most budgets. The base price for a 2021 Tiguan starts at an MSRP of $25,245. That price is right on par with the entry-level Honda CR-V at $25,350 and the Mazda CX-5 at $25,270. Adding AWD into the mix ups the price to $26,545. The SE starts at $27,395 for the FWD model and $28,695 in AWD guise. The SE R-Line Black goes for $30,595 or $31,895 for AWD. The SEL is not cheap at $32,545, but adds a lot of premium features, while the AWD version will set you back $33,845. The top of the range SEL R-Line will cost you $39,095 and is fitted with AWD by default. The prices of the Volkswagen Tiguan listed here do not include tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,195.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Models

VW offers the Tiguan in five different trim levels, starting with the S, followed by the SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL, and finally, the SEL Premium R-Line. All trim levels are powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Tiguan is available in FWD or AWD configuration (except for the AWD-only SEL Premium R-Line); AWD Tiguan models have the option of a third-row seat.

The SE features 17-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, manually-adjustable cloth seats, manual air conditioning, and driver assistance features such as forward collision warning, emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and pedestrian monitoring.

Next in line is the SE. It features dual-zone climate control, keyless access with push-button start, leatherette seating surfaces, heated front seats with ten-way power-adjustability for the driver's side, an eight-inch infotainment display, and wireless phone charging.

The SE R-Line Black adds numerous cosmetic changes, including blacked-out mirror caps and front fascia trim, a panoramic sunroof, as well as a set of massive 20-inch alloy wheels.

SEL derivatives feature Volkswagens' digital cockpit display, remote start, navigation, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing window wipers, and lane-keep assist.

The range-topping SEL Premium R-Line adds ambient interior lighting, high beam control, leather seats, three-position memory for the driver's seat, an overhead camera system, 20-inch wheels, and a premium Fender sound system.

See All 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Volkswagen offers the Tiguan fully-loaded, so the only way you're going to be able to access additional features will be to go for the next trim up. All models, except for the SEL Premium R-Line, can be specced with either FWD or AWD, and the SE is offered with an optional panoramic sunroof for $1,200. Third-row seating will add $595 to the base price on 4Motion models from the SE trim and above.

🚗What New VW Tiguan Model Should I Buy?

There are five trims on offer which can end up confusing some potential buyers, but look closely, and you'll quickly be able to spot major differences. All trim levels share the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic, and all trims, except for the SEL Premium R-Line, can be selected in either FWD or AWD, while AWD variants can also be fitted with third-row seating. Seeing as the R-Line models differ only in appearance, for the most part, we'll skip on those (unless you want to look mildly badass, of course). For a premium experience at not a lot of money, the SE would be our pick of the bunch. This trim offers features such as the larger eight-inch infotainment display, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, and V-Tex leatherette seats. The SE starts at $27,395.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Comparisons

Volkswagen Atlas Volkswagen
Honda CR-V CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Tiguan184 hp23/29 mpg$25,245
Volkswagen Atlas 235 hp22/26 mpg$31,545
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$25,350

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan vs Volkswagen Atlas

The Atlas has the honor of being the largest VW SUV on sale in the USA and rides on the same MQB platform as the Golf. This midsize SUV offers seating for seven and is provided with two engine options. Under the Atlas' hood lies either a 235-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot or a 3.6-liter V6 generating 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. The V6 model is capable of towing a notable 5,000 lbs, and in 2.0-liter FWD guise, the Atlas will manage 21/24/22 mpg city/highway/combined. The Atlas feels notably more eager when pushed hard, but its extra weight can be felt in the corners. The Atlas is arguably the better-looking car, and the interior is a more grown-up place. Interior space is ample but doesn't offer much more than the Tiguan. Trunk space is good, with over 20 cubic feet on offer behind the third row, significantly more than the Tiguan, and with all the back seats folded down, it opens up to a massive 96.8 cubic feet. Starting at $31,555, the Atlas offers better standard features. This decision boils down to how much space you need. We'd have the Atlas.

See Volkswagen Atlas Review

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan vs Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is quickly taking over as Honda's favorite child, with sales of this beloved SUV growing at a steady pace. The CR-V starts with a price of $25,350 and can seat up to five adults. Powering the 2021 CR-V is an eager 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. The Honda feels faster and more enthusiastic on the road. It's also the more dynamically-pleasing car to drive and is as comfortable as it is fun. The CR-V is also significantly lighter on fuel, with an EPA-rated best figure of 28/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined. Although the CR-V's interior is not as refined as the Tiguan's, it features Honda's legendary build quality and ergonomic design. Interior space is superior, and the top-range trims offer a more comfortable 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The CR-V is the class hero for trunk space and offers 39.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. The CR-V provides similar standard features and has a Top Safety Pick Award from the IIHS. We would recommend going with the lively CR-V.

See Honda CR-V Review

Volkswagen Tiguan Popular Comparisons

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