Trying to choose just the right crossover from a sea of possibilities can be overwhelming. But some models in this highly competitive vehicle segment check off more boxes than others. The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is one of those truly well-rounded choices. It's not too big or too small, offers good fuel economy (29 mpg highway/23 mpg city), and has the fine array of standard equipment expected from a German-made crossover. Better still, VW now includes Carefree Coverage, 2 years/20,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance (mainly oil changes and tire rotations).


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Trims and Powertrain


Buyers of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan have a choice of five trim levels: the S, SE, SE R-Line Black, SEL, and SEL Premium R-Line. Their power source is a turbocharged 184 hp (221 lb.-ft. of torque) 2.0-liter engine working with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The lower trims come standard with front-wheel drive, but Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive is available; the SEL Premium R-Line only comes with 4MOTION. Tiguans that are configured with FWD have a third row and can accommodate up to seven; while AWD versions have two rows by default, the third row can be added as a custom configuration.


Standard Amenities and Equipment


Some highlights from the base S trim's standard equipment list are automatic headlights, roof rails, heated exterior mirrors, and 17-inch wheels (a few wheel upgrades are offered, among other a la carte options). Some of the other standard features contribute to the Tiguan's utility factor: there are tie-down hooks in the cargo area and 12-volt power outlets in three places (the front console, one in the rear console, and one in the cargo area). The SE adds push-button start, a wireless smartphone charger, keyless entry, a power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a simulated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and simulated-leather seats (V-Tex). VW likes to set up its vehicles for winter driving, and in keeping with that, the SE trim also gets standard heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles. The SE R-Line Black is upgraded with 20-inch wheels, sport-inspired stainless-steel pedals, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, trim-specific exterior accents, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.


Remote start and a heated steering wheel increase the winter-comfort factor on the SEL, which also receives 19-inch wheels, silver-tone roof rails, a power liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, VW's Digital Cockpit (a fully digital gauge cluster), and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The SEL Premium R-Line gets the R-Line accents as well as LED headlights, an adaptive front-lighting system, exterior mirror memory, a hands-free power liftgate, ambient interior lighting, a power-adjustable front passenger's seat, and leather seats.




Most of today's vehicle buyers want as much driver-assist technology as possible, and the 2021 Tiguan includes a standard package. On the S trim, that means automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Each subsequent trim level gets more technology: adaptive cruise control is added to the SE and above, the SE R-Line Black and higher add parking sensors, lane keeping assist is added at the SEL level, and the SEL Premium R-Line gets automatic high beams.




The infotainment system in the base S has a 6.5-inch touchscreen and a grouping of must-have technologies: Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto; this trim also gets a USB data port and VW Car-Net remote services. The SE ramps up its infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition functionality, an additional USB data port, and satellite and HD radio. The SEL gets navigation, and the SEL Premium R-Line is sweetened with a premium Fender audio system.