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2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan delivers a cushioned ride and comes with plenty of standard features, but its weak engine and overall underwhelming performance keep it stuck in the middle of our compact SUV rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable ride
  • Generous cargo space
  • Engine feels underpowered at times
  • Less engaging handling compared to some rivals
  • Below-average fuel economy ratings

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan's #8 ranking is based on its score within the Compact SUVs category. Currently the Volkswagen Tiguan has a score of 7.9 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 33 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.0
Performance: 6.6
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 9.6
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Volkswagen Tiguan?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Volkswagen Tiguan a Good SUV?

Yes, the Volkswagen Tiguan is a good SUV. Its cargo capacity is above the class average, and its high price is offset by its generous list of standard technology, like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. It's also one of the few compact SUVs to offer third-row seating. This VW stumbles a bit when it comes to performance, though. While the ride is compliant, the vehicle is slow to accelerate, and it isn't very engaging to drive. Additionally, fuel economy ratings are subpar.

Why You Can Trust Us: 33 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 33 Volkswagen Tiguan reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision. This 2021 Tiguan review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2018.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Tiguan?

The Tiguan is a good pick for shoppers who need a good amount of cargo space and could occasionally use a third row of seats but don't want a larger vehicle. However, there are several other compact SUVs that are worth a look. The Honda CR-V has even more cargo room and nicer cabin materials than the Tiguan, while the Mazda CX-5's precise steering and spry handling make it more engaging to drive than this VW.

Find a 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan: What's the Difference?

There are no major differences between the 2020 and 2021 Tiguan.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Tiguan »

Here are the key changes for the Volkswagen Tiguan over the last few years:

  • 2017: revised trim levels; added a larger standard touch screen
  • 2018: fully redesigned with extra passenger and cargo room, as well as an available 8-inch touch screen and lots of available driver assistance features; three-row, seven-seat model introduced
  • 2019: minor shuffling of features; R-Line trims debuted
  • 2020: added several safety features to the standard features list; gained an available Wi-Fi hot spot and available wireless device charging
  • 2021: no notable changes

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Tiguan, 2019 Tiguan, and 2020 Tiguan reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Tiguan Cost?

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan's base S trim starts at $25,245. Next up are the midlevel SE ($27,395), SE R-Line Black ($30,595), and SEL ($32,545) trims. The range-topping SEL Premium R-Line starts at $39,095 and comes standard with all-wheel drive. Every other trim is available with AWD for an additional $1,300.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen Tiguan Versus the Competition

Volkswagen Tiguan vs. Honda CR-V

The Tiguan comes standard with more tech features than the Honda CR-V, and it's available with a third row, while the Honda is not. The CR-V, however, is a more well-rounded vehicle that sits near the top of our compact SUV rankings. It has an even larger cargo capacity than the Tiguan, as well as a more upscale cabin. The CR-V also comes with a more efficient powertrain, and its ride is just as comfortable as the Tiguan's.

Compare the Tiguan and CR-V »

Volkswagen Tiguan vs. Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is a better pick than the Tiguan, especially for performance-oriented shoppers. The CX-5 boasts responsive steering, agile handling, and an optional turbocharged engine that's more potent than the Tiguan's engine and nearly as fuel-efficient. The only reason to choose the Tiguan over the CX-5 is if you need more cabin space. The Tiguan offers third-row seating and between 6 and 14 cubic feet of additional cargo room, depending on the configuration.

Compare the Tiguan and CX-5 »

Compare the Tiguan, CR-V, and CX-5 »

Tiguan Interior: Roomy and Packed With Features

Tiguan Cargo Space

Three-row models have 12 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 33 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 65.7 cubic feet with the second row folded. Two-row models give you 37.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 73.5 with it folded. That's good for a compact SUV. Plus, the cargo area is wide and deep. The SEL trim comes standard with a power liftgate, and the range-topping SEL Premium R-Line has a hands-free liftgate.

How Many People Does the Tiguan Seat?

Front-wheel-drive Tiguans come standard with seating for up to seven people in three rows, while all-wheel-drive Tiguans come with seating for five people in two rows. The third row is optional in AWD models.

The first two rows have plenty of room for adults to stretch out, but the third row is best left for children. Still, the Tiguan is one of the few vehicles in the compact SUV class to offer a third row, which can be handy if you need extra seating in a pinch.

Tiguan and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the second-row outboard seats and a tether anchor for the middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this setup the second-highest rating of Acceptable for its ease of use. Though this system is relatively user-friendly, the lower anchors can be difficult to maneuver around.

Tiguan Interior Quality

The Tiguan has upscale cabin materials and a simple design. However, its interior styling isn’t as sophisticated as that of some class rivals.

Tiguan Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

A user-friendly infotainment system with both touch and physical controls is standard in the Tiguan. The touch screen has responsive menus, and drivers will appreciate how easy it is to operate the physical temperature and climate knobs on the center stack. An available feature of note is Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit, which replaces the traditional gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch digital display that shows navigation, vehicle information, audio settings and more.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.5-inch touch screen, six speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, HD Radio, two additional USB ports, navigation, a nine-speaker Fender audio system, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster (Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit)
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Tiguan Performance: Relaxed Ride but Limited Power

Tiguan Engine

The Volkswagen Tiguan's powertrain consists of a 184-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This setup is suitable for moving around town and cruising at highway speeds, but the vehicle feels strained when attempting to pass or merge on the highway. Also, the transmission is sometimes slow to shift when more power is needed.

Tiguan Gas Mileage

The front-wheel-drive Tiguan gets 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Those are below-average figures for the compact SUV class. Models with all-wheel drive get an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Tiguan Ride and Handling

The Tiguan prioritizes comfort over agility, which many shoppers will appreciate. However, this Volkswagen suffers from numb steering and some body lean around corners. As a result, it isn’t as engaging to drive as competitors like the Mazda CX-5.

Tiguan Towing Capacity

The Tiguan can tow up to 1,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about performance »

Tiguan Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Tiguan Reliable?

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Volkswagen Tiguan Warranty

The 2021 Tiguan comes with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Tiguan Safety

Tiguan Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan five out of five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover test. The NHTSA also noted that the driver's door opened during the side barrier test, which makes it more likely that an occupant could be ejected during a side impact crash.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 Tiguan the highest rating of Good in all six crashworthiness tests. The Tiguan received the lowest rating of Poor for how well its standard halogen headlights illuminate the road ahead. Models with the available LED headlights earned a Good rating for forward visibility.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. The Tiguan received the highest rating of Superior for its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, along with a midtier rating of Advanced for its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian system.

Tiguan Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection

Available advanced safety features:

  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Surround-view parking camera system

Read more about safety »

Tiguan Dimensions and Weight

The Tiguan is about 15.4 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,757 to 3,847 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is between 5,093 and 5,203 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Built?

Volkswagen builds the 2021 Tiguan in Mexico.

Which Volkswagen Tiguan Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan comes in five trims: S, SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL, and SEL Premium R-Line. All models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Every trim but the Premium R Line comes with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is standard in the Premium R Line and available for $1,300 in the other trims. Models with FWD come standard with third-row seating, while the third row is a $595 option in models with AWD.

Most shoppers will be pleased with the base S trim, which comes loaded with features, but opting for the SE trim will get you more tech treats, like an 8-inch touch screen, and extra comfort features like heated front seats.

Volkswagen Tiguan S

The S trim starts at $25,245 and comes with cloth upholstery, alloy wheels, and an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, six speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Several active safety features are also standard, including a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection.

Volkswagen Tiguan SE

The SE trim (MSRP: $27,395) adds synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, HD Radio, two additional USB ports, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

A panoramic sunroof is available for around $1,200.

Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

The SE R-Line Black trim starts at $30,595. It gains front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and larger alloy wheels.

Volkswagen Tiguan SEL

Starting at $32,545, the SEL trim adds rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, navigation, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster (Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit).

Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line

The SEL Premium R-Line trim has a starting price of $39,095. In addition to all-wheel drive, it gains automatic high-beam headlights, a surround-view parking camera system, genuine leather upholstery, a hands-free liftgate, and a nine-speaker Fender audio system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is a good compact SUV that offers an expansive cargo area, three-row seating (albeit cramped), and a lengthy list of standard comfort and technology features. However, the engine could use more power, the Tiguan's handling is dull, and fuel economy is subpar.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2021 VW Tiguan may not be as fun to drive as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, but it has a European sophistication and a solidity that we appreciate and is characteristic of Volkswagen." -- Autotrader
  • "The compact SUV segment is full of good options, but one of our favorites is the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, which is one of the most well-rounded choices. It's handsomely styled, well-equipped, and practical. Plus, the VW is one of only two compact SUVs that offer an optional third row of seats (the other is the Mitsubishi Outlander)." -- Car and Driver
  • "Thankfully, the … Volkswagen Tiguan isn't anywhere as zany as its name would suggest. It's actually quite the sensible, practical thing, boasting more interior space than most 'compact' crossovers. It's so big, in fact, that VW managed to squeeze in a standard third-row seat for those occasional times when your kids' friends want to come back for swim. Its cargo space is comparable to most midsize crossovers (though, to be fair, so is a Honda CR-V's). If anything, the Tiguan is perhaps too sensible. The interior is pretty drab, the driving experience dull, and the styling blocky and conservative. Avoiding zany was smart, but some more personality would still be nice – especially in a segment where many carve out niches within the sport, luxury or rugged realms." -- Autoblog (2020)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 15, 2021

Slow Demand: The Tiguan ranked in the lower third of the compact SUV class in terms of overall sales for 2020. Volkswagen dealerships moved 8.4 percent fewer Tiguans last year compared to 2019. Overall, Volkswagen sold 10.3 percent fewer vehicles across its lineup in 2020. 

Research more buying advice »
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