Fun fact: Tiguans were once available with a manual transmission! While that’s not the case today, the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan more than makes up for this minor loss with loads of features, handsome styling and a third-row option which is unusual in the compact SUV category. This 2021 iteration is 5 years deep into the model’s second generation so you can expect a major update in the near future. But for today, let’s have a look at what the Tiguan has to offer.

About that third row, it comes standard on front-wheel drive models and as an option for 4Motion AWD versions. While it certainly limits cargo space, the two seats back there can be folded flat or split 50/50 to make room. Moving forward, the second row bench not only folds flat, it can also slide and recline. Other notable interior features include available wireless charging, heated seats and steering wheel along with leather wrapped surfaces. In addition, Volkswagen’s relationship with Fender continues here in the form of an optional premium audio system.

From the driver’s seat, you’ll find the MIB3 infotainment system in the SE trim and up. This latest version of MIB includes an 8” capacitive touchscreen meaning there is swiping and pinch-and-zoom functionality we’re all so accustomed to with smartphones. This system houses the App-Connect feature for integrating Apple and Android phones; wireless hookup is optional. The available Digital Cockpit turns the gauge cluster into a 10” TFT display allowing customized layouts to view car status, navigation, phone info and more.

Another useful tech feature is what VW calls Car-Net. This subscription-based service is free for the first 5 years of ownership and allows you to interact with the Tiguan from miles away. You can start and stop the engine, pull up last parked location, unlock the doors and more. When used in concert with the available Wi-Fi and Plus Nav systems, your navigation is automatically updated with traffic and construction information.

On the driver assistance front, the Tiguan has wordy system descriptors that they thankfully shorten to phrases like Front Assist. This feature performs several functions like a forward collision audible and tactile warning, can jolt or fully apply the brakes and watch for pedestrians. Side Assist and Lane Assist work together to prevent accidents when changing lanes with blind spot objects. There is also the Lane Keeping System that engages with Adaptive Cruise Control to maintain the Tiguan in its lane via steering and braking inputs. Rounding out the assistance systems are High Beam Assist, Overhead Camera View and Park Distance Control.

All 2021 Tiguans are equipped with a 184 horsepower, turbocharged inline-4 making a robust 221 lb-ft of torque. A start/stop feature is standard and works to improve efficiency by turning the motor off at idle or while holding the brake pedal. Front wheel drive is standard with 4Motion AWD available. This system uses an electro-hydraulic oil pump in the center differential to engage the rear wheels as needed, applying up to 50% of the power out back. 4Motion equipped Tiguans also come with Active Control, which allows selectable drive modes of Onroad, Snow, Offroad and Custom Offroad so you can tailor the vehicle to the driving conditions.

On the whole, this 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is a solid compact SUV punching above its class with a stylish German exterior and minimalist interior design. The digital cockpit is excellent and there is plenty of room in the second row. On the downside, the steering is somewhat vague, the fuel economy is not great for this class and the best features are only available on the top-tier trim. Please check out the video above for more of George’s thoughts on the new Tiguan. Drivers Only scores the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line an even 100, click here to see how it stacks up against the competition: Best Compact SUVs for 2020 & 2021.

Front-engine, front- or all-wheel drive, 5- or 7-passenger, 4-door wagon


16-valve DOHC 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4: 184 hp, 221 lb-ft

8-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 109.8 in
L/W/H: 185.1/72.4/66.3 in
Curb Weight: 4136 lb

0-60 mph: 9.7 sec
¼ mile: 17.3 sec @ 81 mph
Top speed: 114 mph

City/Highway: 21-23/27-29 mpg