2021 Volkswagen Tiguan

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Rear View Driving
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Dashboard

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: Beautifully Bland

by Michael Butler

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.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
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2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 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

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.

Best Deals on 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
SE R-Line Black
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
SEL Premium R-Line
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Trims and Specs

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.

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 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
Honda CR-V CarBuzz

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
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