Buyer's Guide

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan
Select a Different Model (9 Available): S
Fuel Economy $ 23 / 29 mpg
Cargo (Std/Max) 12/66 cu.ft.
Seating (Std/Max) 7/7
Horsepower 184@4,400
See All Specs
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan MODEL OVERVIEW

Pros

  • Sharp exterior styling
  • Adaptive cruise control now standard on more trims
  • Composed at freeway speeds

Cons

  • Cramped, uncomfortable third row
  • Bizarre driving dynamics
  • Refreshed Tiguan should arrive for 2022

For drivers who seek three-row versatility without huge SUV sizing, Volkswagen builds the Tiguan. It was originally introduced in the U.S. for the 2009 model year, and the current second-generation Tiguan debuted for 2018. The Tiguan is larger than most compact SUVs it competes with directly, but few of those offer a third row. Meanwhile, it's smaller than midsize three-row SUVs like Volkswagen's own Atlas, positioning the Tiguan as an SUV in-betweener.

What's New

  • Updated 17-inch wheel design on the S and SE trims
  • Adaptive cruise control now standard on the SE trim and above
  • Reworked infotainment system on the SE trim and above
  • Power-adjustable passenger seat added on the SEL Premium R-Line trim

What We Think

The Tiguan looks sharp, but don't let that draw your attention away from its concerning contradictions.

The turbo-four engine provides eager initial acceleration, but it runs out of breath at highway speeds. Handling is perplexing too; rounding a corner gives an impression that the front end isn't connected to the back. Ride quality on smooth pavement is serene, then becomes harsh on uneven surfaces. At least the available AWD system works well in loose conditions.

Inside, the Tiguan boasts impressive available tech features. Yet the cabin's plasticky materials make it feel cheap overall. The Tiguan's available third row might entice some drivers, but we found it cramped to the point of uselessness.

Given the Tiguan's disappointing overall execution, it currently finishes near the bottom of our compact SUV rankings. What's more, a better-looking and higher-tech refreshed version is slated to arrive for 2022. We recommend waiting for that one to see whether it improves over this year's model.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Every Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine producing 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Tiguan has standard FWD or AWD with the optional 4Motion system. MotorTrend testing measured an 8.6-second 0-60 mph time from a Tiguan equipped with AWD. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 23/29 mpg city/highway for FWD models and 21/27 mpg for AWD models.

Safety

When equipped with LED projector headlights (standard on the SEL and SEL Premium trims), the Tiguan earned an IIHS 2020 Top Safety Pick designation. Those headlights received a Good score, the highest, but the standard halogen headlights got a Poor score, the lowest. Regardless, the Tiguan earned Good scores in all crashworthiness tests.

All Tiguan trims include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert in their driver-assist and active safety features. For 2021, adaptive cruise control is included starting with the SE trim. Lane keep assist and rain sensing windshield wipers are added on the SEL trim.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Tiguan models equipped with FWD come with a third row for seven-passenger seating, while AWD models seat five passengers.

In three-row Tiguans, cargo space measures 12.0 cubic feet behind the third row. Capacity expands to 33.3 cubic feet when the third row is folded. With both rear rows folded, maximum cargo space is 65.7 cubic feet.

In two-row Tiguans, cargo volume is 37.6 cubic feet behind the second row, or 73.5 cubic feet when the second row is folded.

Front-row headroom measures 39.6 inches in the Tiguan, which compares to 39.5 inches in the 2020 Kia Sorento. Second-row headroom is 39.1 inches in three-row Tiguans, 38.9 inches in two-row Tiguans, and 39.3 inches in the 2020 Sorento. Third-row headroom is 33.8 inches in the Tiguan, much less than 36.3 inches in the 2020 Sorento. Front-row legroom is 40.2 inches in the Tiguan, much less than 44.1 inches in the 2020 Sorento. Second-row legroom is 36.5 inches in three-row Tiguans, 38.7 inches in two-row Tiguans, and 39.4 inches in the 2020 Sorento. Third-row legroom is 27.9 inches in the Volkswagen, and 31.7 inches in the Kia.

Technology

The entry-level Tiguan S has a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, while for 2021 the SE trim and above have an 8.0-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's new MIB3 user interface. All models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but have wireless connectivity with MIB3. Tiguans equipped with MIB3 have USB-C charge ports in the first and second rows and a wireless device charger, plus an available built-in navigation system. A 10.3-inch digital gauge display is fitted in the SEL and SEL Premium trims. A six-speaker audio system is standard, and the SEL Premium trim has a nine-speaker Fender premium audio system. The SEL Premium trim also has a 360-degree view parking camera system.

Which Tiguan Trims Offer the R-Line Package?

Choosing the R-Line package adds sport-inspired front and rear bumpers, metal pedal caps, and 20-inch alloy wheels. The R-Line package is available on the Tiguan SE trim and standard on the SEL Premium trim. Although it looks cool and sporty, R-Line specification doesn't add any actual performance enhancements to the Tiguan.

Recommended Trim

The entry-level Tiguan S trim seems like it's lacking. Meanwhile, the higher-end SEL trim is loaded with features but is somewhat pricey. That's why we think the mid-range SE trim is the one to get, especially considering the new content added for 2021.

Those center around the new MIB3 infotainment system, which runs on an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Volkswagen designed MIB3 to be more user-friendly than the previous version and to have better voice command functionality. It includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android auto to make hooking your phone up even easier. Adaptive cruise control is also added to the SE trim for 2021, which makes freeway driving much easier. Plus, there's a new 17-inch wheel design to spruce up the SE's looks.

By choosing SE you miss out on features like lane keep assist, a heated steering wheel, or built-in navigation like what's included on the SEL trim. However, the Tiguan SE can be had with FWD or AWD, five- or seven-passenger configuration, or with or without sporty R-Line trim. Given its price point and updated standard features, if you're committed to getting a Tiguan, we recommend the SE.

Key Competitors:

2021 VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN SPECIFICATIONS
OVERVIEW
FEATURES
WARRANTY/RECALL
SAFETY
REBATES
Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl Turbo 2.0 Liter TSI
Transmission Name
Transmission, Tiptronic® 8 Speed Automatic Mode Select with Manual Mode
Trim
S
Class
Compact Utility
Horsepower
184@4,400
Standard MPG
23/29
Body Style
SUV/Crossover
Drivetrain
FWD
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
7/7
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
100,000
Maintenance Warranty Months
24
Corrosion Warranty Months
84
Powertrain Warranty Miles
50,000
Full Warranty Miles
50,000
Powertrain Warranty Months
48
Full Warranty Months
48
Roadside Assistance Miles
36,000
Maintenance Warranty Miles
20,000
Roadside Assistance Months
36
IIHS Best Pick
0
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$0 1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$0 0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$0 2.4% Financing for a maximum term of 75 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$500 Volkswagen announces a College Graduate program for customers who finance or lease through Volkswagen Credit on select models. 01-03-2022