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2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review: United Joins the League

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Auto123 reviews the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan.

The current Tiguan, the beneficiary of a significant redesign in 2018, doesn't need much of an introduction. Since its arrival in Canada, and despite changes that were far from unanimously well-received, the SUV has sold decently across the country. Now, a redesigned Tiguan is scheduled to arrive on the market for the 2022 model-year. We gave this year’s model of the SUV a quick once-over, with a focus on the new features. The highlight? A new trim.

This year, the Tiguan is offered in four versions, starting at $29,795 for the most stripped-down variant, the Trendline. At the other end of the rainbow is the Highline version at $40,195. In between is the new United variant, which is the version we had occasion to drive.

Before we get into the details of the Tiguan United - no, it's not a soccer team - we should mention that all versions have a 184-hp 2.0 TSI engine mated to an 8-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is available as an option on the base version and comes standard on the other trims.

What makes the Tiguan distinctive in its category, which includes some pretty big names like the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, among others, is that it's the only one to offer an optional third bench seat for $750, which allows for accommodating seven occupants.

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2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, profile
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, profile

The Trendline version offers lane-change assist, App-Connect, 6.5-inch multimedia screen, 17-inch wheels, heated front seats and a three-section split rear seat. The Comfortline variant, at $34,995, adds a few safety features such as emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane change assist, “Keyless Entry” central locking system, power tailgate and power adjustments for the driver's seat only.

The new United variant, priced at $36,995, enhances the offering with a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, huge panoramic sunroof and driver-facing screen called digital cockpit pro that you can set up the way you want. A voice command system and ambient lighting is also included with this version.

The most luxurious version, Highline ($40,195), gives access to a parking assistance system, high-end audio system, remote starter, 18-inch wheels, leather interior and the optional R-Line package. That last option makes the Tiguan sportier by adding specific 19-inch tires, unique R-Line design elements and, inside, brushed steel pedals, black headliner and sport steering wheel. The cost of this addition is $1,800. Is it worth it? No, not really.

Volkswagen Tiguan 2021, avant
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Volkswagen Tiguan 2021, avant

Now, about that new United. Volkswagen is introducing the App-Connect system here, which of course integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but this time wirelessly. Kudos to Volkswagen for offering this feature with a $36,995 vehicle. There's also an induction charging system that nicely complements this wireless connectivity.

Another addition that we really appreciated is the huge panoramic roof, which opens the way for a ton of light to stream into the cabin. The opening extends from just above the driver to far behind, almost halfway across the vehicle. We appreciate all the light and airiness, which the rear passengers also benefit fully from.

Last but not least, the rear seat space is downright palatial in size! This element is not exclusive to the United version per se, but it's worth mentioning, because once you're in the back, you'll feel like you're in an Atlas, so immense is the space; legroom and headroom are both very impressive. Of course, with the addition of the third row, this space will diminish, but it remains a good selling point in this category.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, interior
Photo: Auto123.com
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, interior
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, second row
Photo: Auto123.com
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, second row

Now for the more irritating points. The digital cockpit isn't very useful and is more of a distraction than a help, really. More importantly, the engine is clearly in need of an energy boost. This is actually one of the biggest weaknesses of this model since its 2018 redesign, for which Volkswagen set out to “Americanize” the model and especially its driving dynamics, to the extent that it has made the driving experience totally moribund.

To liven things up even a little, you have to select Sport drive mode. It will deliver a bit more bite, but still, this Tiguan is simply anemic. And lest you think that a meeker powertrain translates into better fuel economy, well no! Try as we might, we couldn’t get our figure down below 10.0L/100 km, we were fated to remain between 10.0L and 11.0L/100 km. With a lot of concerted effort, on the highway at 100 km/h, the consumption indicated 8.7L/100 km. But as soon as we started to get more aggressive with the accelerator, we’d be back to 10.0L before long.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, three-quarters rear

Should you buy this current Tiguan, then? Yes, if you're looking for a compact SUV with plenty of room on board. In a 5 or 7 seat version, it will meet your expectations. But don't be demanding and don't ask too much of the Tiguan. It will transport you and your family comfortably to your destination, but it is soulless in how it does it.

If you don’t have high tech needs, stick with the base model, but select the 4Motion option anyway. I have to admit, for having tested the system in winter, that it does a very competent job and will help you handle the worst conditions.

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, wheels
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, wheels

We like

Space on board
4 motion system
Technology and connectivity

We like less

Meek powertrain
Moribund drive
Excessive fuel consumption
Too much plastic on board

The competition

Ford Escape
GMC Terrain
Honda CR-V
Hyundai Tucson
Jeep Cherokee
Kia Sportage
Mazda CX-5
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Toyota RAV4

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, rear
Photo: Auto123.com
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, rear

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