2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line 4MOTION

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line 4MOTION

If you’re shopping for a compact SUV, there are lots of decent options. The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is one of only a few in the class that offers three rows of seating. Although the Tiguan doesn’t have the most athletic performance of the bunch, it’s still a well-rounded entry.

Base Price: $39,095
As Tested: $40,290
Horsepower: 184
Mileage: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway/24 mpg combined

The Tiguan was last redesigned for the 2018 model year. For 2022, the exterior and interior get some updates, more standard and available features are added including more advanced driver assistance technologies, and the SEL trim is no longer offered.

The 2021 Tiguan is available in four trims: S, SE, SE R-Line Black, and SEL R-Line. Starting prices range from $25,245 to $39,095 which is a little above average for the class. Trims with front-wheel-drive come standard with three rows of seating with room for seven passengers. The two-row trims come with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. A third row is optional on SE models and above.

All trims get the same engine: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Tiguan is not sporty. Sure, it’s just fine for driving around the city. But acceleration can take a while, whether you’re proceeding from a stop, or picking up speed to merge and pass on the highway. Once you’re up to speed, the Tiguan is a comfortable cruiser. There’s noticeable body roll when navigating tight corners. This isn’t a vehicle that you’ll want to push when behind the wheel; rather it delivers a smooth, compliant ride that’s suited for hauling the family. Visibility is good all the way around.

When properly equipped, the Tiguan can tow up to 1,500 pounds.

Fuel economy is below average for the class. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with a combined rating of 24. I got 24 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The interior is spacious and attractive with a modern look including gloss-grey and chrome details. My tester has snazzy two-tone seating with contrast stitching. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Adults in the first two rows enjoy decent leg- and headroom. The available third row is cramped for adults, as is usually the case, but smaller kids should be ok.

Standard features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit eight-inch digital driver display, infotainment system with 6.5-inch color touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Mirror Link, two USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, and roof rails.

Available features include remote start, surround-view camera system, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic or real leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, heated steering wheel, 10.25-inch digital driver display, nine-speaker Fender audio system, eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, additional USB ports, a wireless device charging, driver attention monitor, automatic high-beam headlights, and a sunroof.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, and rear cross traffic alert.

Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, lane centering, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, reverse automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, and traffic sign recognition.

Two-row models have 37.6 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 73.5 cubes with the second row folded. The 40/20/40 split seats allow accommodating of skis, fishing fear and other large items. Three-row models have 12 cubic feet with all three rows in place, 33 cubes with the third row folded, and 65.7cubes with the second and third rows folded. A power liftgate and hands-free liftgate are available.

The infotainment system is straightforward. However, the base system has a small screen. Even the larger eight-inch touchscreen still looks small in comparison to the big screens available in many rivals.

The good:

Comfortable ride

Roomy interior

Lots of cargo space

User-friendly infotainment system

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Pokey acceleration

Thirstier than other compact SUVs

Available third row is cramped

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $39,095. Destination charge is $1,195 bringing the grand total to $40,290.

Bottom line:

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan has a comfortable ride, attractive and roomy cabin, lots of cargo space, and is one of the few compact SUVs to offer three rows of seating. It’s not as much fun to drive as some rivals but is otherwise a good family hauler.

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