1. Car Buying Advice
  2. /
  3. Volkswagen Reviews
  4. /
  5. 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Test Drive Review

Exterior view of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

There's no denying that crossovers and SUVs are all the rage, but the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is proof that you don't need a large, bulky vehicle to haul your family comfortably. Although it competes against compact crossovers like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape, thanks to its three-row seating configuration, the VW Tigaun offers added passenger capacity, which is standard on front-drive models, and optional on all-wheel drive versions.

Since the second-generation Tiguan was introduced for the 2018 model year, VW has expanded its SUV lineup to include the mid-size Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, as well as the upcoming VW Taos, which slots just under the Tiguan. To see how this seven-passenger compact crossover stands up to its newer rivals, I spent a week with the stylish and well-equipped 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black edition.

Shop Volkswagen Tiguan Inventory


2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

If you like the styling of current VW products like the Atlas, Passat and Golf, then you'll appreciate the design of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. Compared to flashier crossovers like the 2022 Hyundai Tucson, the Tiguan's styling has the cleaner, boxier lines of a traditional SUV, with compact and well-balanced proportions.

For a little extra attitude, my tester came in the SE R-Line Black trim level, which adds blacked-out roof rack rails, mirror caps, and bumpers, along with 20-inch wheels. This package also adds LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and R-Line badges on the grille and fenders. All of the dark accents were perfectly complemented by this tester's Pyrite Silver Metallic paint job - one of four colors available on the SE R-Line Black model.

Shop Volkswagen Tiguan Inventory


2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

As with the exterior, the cabin of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan isn't as flashy as some of the other compact SUVs in the segment, but it's refined and loaded with content. Along with the eight-inch touchscreen display, the Tiguan gets VW's upgraded MIB3 infotainment system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is new for this model year. When it comes to styling, the SE R-Line Black trim level lives up to its name, as the cabin features Titan Black seating and a black headliner, which really makes sporty aluminum accents on the foot pedals and door sills pop.

Even with all of the standard content and available technology, the biggest selling point of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is the third-row rear seat, which is standard on front-drive models and optional ($595) on all-wheel drive. While the Tiguan's 50/50 split third row bench seat is extremely tight for adults, it comes in very handy when hauling around kids - especially younger kids with their booster seats. In its three-row seating configuration, the 2021 Tiguan can accommodate a maximum 65.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which includes 12 cubic feet behind the third row.

Shop Volkswagen Tiguan Inventory


2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

The sole powertrain option for the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power output is rated at 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque to go along with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 23 mpg in the city** and 29 mpg on the highway** for the front-wheel drive version.

The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan definitely has the looks of a bigger SUV, but this powertrain and balanced chassis allows this crossover to feel like a compact hatchback on the open road. On paper, the Tiguan might seem to be lacking in terms of power and efficiency compared to its main rivals. But it's worth noting that thanks to its responsive steering and surprising acceleration, the Tiguan proves far more engaging to drive than most compact CUVs. While you're not going to mistake the Tiguan for a Golf GTI, the SE R-Line Black has a sporty attitude, and also can tow up to 1,500 pounds.

Shop Volkswagen Tiguan Inventory


Exterior view of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Safety

The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan has been on the market since 2018, but it's yet to receive a full crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Despite this fact, the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan does boast a five-star side-crash rating, and for 2021, the Tiguan now comes standard with Adaptive Cruise Control on SE and higher trim levels.

Shop Volkswagen Tiguan Inventory


Exterior view of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Overall

The three-row, seven-passenger 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is a perfect choice for families who don't really need the added size (or price) of a larger three-row CUV. Although it's not as fresh as some of the other compact crossovers on the market, the Tiguan is really one of the all-around best in this segment, thanks to its classic SUV styling, enjoyable small car driving dynamic, and excellent value.

In base form, the 2021 Tiguan has a starting price of $25,245*, but even stepping up to the more stylish SE R-Line Black trim level won't break the bank, as this FWD carried an as-tested price of $31,790*.

Shop Volkswagen Tiguan Inventory


Jeffrey N. Ross | May 04, 2021


2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black Specs

Layout

4-door, 7-passenger, FWD

Engine/Transmission

Turbocharged 2.0L I4, 184 hp, 221 lb-ft
Eight-speed automatic

Mileage

23/29 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

N/A


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★



More Research

Browse more automotive research than you can shake a stick shift at.


Find great SUVs with AutoNation Drive research

Test Drive Reviews

Our automotive experts at AutoNation Drive weigh in on price, safety, and performance of popular cars, trucks, and SUVs.


Find great cars, trucks, and SUVs with AutoNation Drive research

Car Buying Advice

If you're buying a car, truck, or SUV, the chances are - you need help. Don't worry. Our automotive experts are here to help.



*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.