A few changes in the 2021 model year for the Volkswagen Tiguan keep it updated for today’s market. The Tiguan saw a full remodel in 2018, improving its interior space, cargo room, and overall demeanor. This year, it gets a larger infotainment screen option and some content updates at lower trim levels. All while keeping its third row and turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The 2021 Tiguan is nice to look at, with simple, non-aggressive lines and bodywork. This no-nonsense exterior design carries to the interior, VW style, with an austerity that, while often praised in luxury vehicles, is a bit plain for the commoners in the Tiguan’s market. It’s a love or hate thing and my household is split on whether they fall to one side or the other of that fence. But at least there are colors other than red or blue on that ballot.
What is most liked about the VW Tiguan, though, is its road appeal. It’s neither sporty nor a “driver’s car” by any means, but it’s engaging to drive nonetheless. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine displaces 2.0 liters and produces a relatively modest 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. That latter number is a good one, though, coming early in the RPM range to give the Tiguan a punchier feel than might be expected. Nothing too pushy, but definitely tingly at least. An eight-speed automatic transmission translates all of that power to the wheels. The Tiguan is front-wheel drive by default and all-wheel drive as an option.
The aforementioned third row of seating is also an interesting touch. Most of the smaller crossover-SUVs on the market have dropped the third row as it is usually cramped and largely useless in a vehicle this size. Volkswagen has figured out how to make it usable, however, even if just for kids. The third row is standard in FWD models and optional in AWD ones. We’d opt for it, even if it’s only rarely used, as it does little to impede on overall cargo capacity and a lot to add versatility to the Tiguan.
There are five trim levels for the 2021 VW Tiguan, starting with the baseline S and its rather impressive list of standard features. LED running and tail lamps, heated side mirrors, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired) and a six-speaker sound system, plus 17-inch alloy wheels and a towing kit. All standard. Not to mention forward collision warning and mitigation (braking) and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. And it only goes up from there.
The SE trim is our favorite in terms of value, with a price tag just slightly above the base model and with a lot of added stuff like the new 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment, wireless Auto and CarPlay, a wireless smart phone charger, more USB ports, simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone climate, heated front seating, and adaptive cruise control. All happy, real-world-useful, daily use items. Those looking for a little more bling can take the SE and add the R-Line Black edition option with 20-inch wheels, blacked out exterior decals, and more.
From there, it’s the SEL and SEL Premium R-Line trims, which add even more stuff and more price to the tag. Still, if near luxury with a fairly austere VW interior is your thing, those packages are there for the taking.
Overall, the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is a well-sized, nice-driving, smart SUV. There’s a lot to like about it and it remains competitive with rivals in the fierce small crossover market.