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2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review

The day I brought Tiggy home this past September 

If you missed it this fall, I officially became a car owner again after nearly a decade-long hiatus! While I would’ve loved to get away with having no car/insurance payment for as long as possible, it was time. The truth of the matter is, an SUV is just far more practical with a baby–and there are several instances that pop up where Neal and I both need to have cars! Thus: Tiggy (my 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan!) joined our family in September!

After I posted about buying Tiggy, I received a lot of questions from those who were also in the market for a car. It seems like finding an SUV that isn’t too big or too small, is a decent price, with a luxury-feeling and roomy interior is actually PRETTY tough! (Especially in this market–sheesh!)

To cut to the chase, I can confidently say, the longer we drive Tiggy, the more we love her and are very happy with our choice. If you’re also searching for that “goldilocks” car like I was, I hope this blog post is helpful!

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Review:

To elaborate more on our situation, I have spent the last several years living in the city without a car, but when June was born, the time came that it was just more practical for us to have two cars. Since Neal has a sedan, we thought it was the smartest decision for me to get an SUV, considering it would be our main “kid car” and our go-to car in general for driving longer distances, grocery runs, etc. It was also important to have a vehicle that was reliable in the snow, as, you know–Chicago winters. Neal was very adamant about all wheel drive and I have to admit, after driving it in the winter, he was right.

Navigating the car buying process is not fun for me. I hate it. So my plan was to buy either a Mazda CX5 or CX9–as my best friend has a Mazda SUV that she loves, and they have a lot of great features at a really great price! (If it worked for her, it would work for me! Easy enough–problem solved–no more work necessary, right?)

The issue was, the two options weren’t quite what I was looking for–I needed an “in between.”

Nothing else in the mid-size category was appealing to me for one reason or another–whether it was the style, the features, or the price. (I looked at everything–Toyota RAV4, Kia Sorrento, Honda CRV, Hyundai Santa Fe–everything from compact SUVs, crossovers, to mid-size SUV’s. No other model quite checked all the boxes.

Then my friend Sam suggested I look at the VW Tiguan. (Sam’s Tiguan is also named Tiggy, so technically my Tiggy is *Tiggy II*) I had previously ruled out Tiguans because I didn’t know they completely re-designed them a couple years back. I was only familiar with the old body style that was much smaller. (And also anecdotally, I hadn’t heard good things about in terms of their reliability.) I was THRILLED–because my last car was a VW Golf–and I love, love the brand. I had no idea that this new Tiguan would be a fit for us!

Old Tiguan models vs. 2021 Tiguan model: (First generation vs. Second generation). 

The Tiguan, originally launched in 2007, received a completely redesign and facelift in 2020. This “second generation” as it’s called, is bigger, sleeker and more upscale-feeling in design, with lots of features that give you a ton of bang for your buck. The Tiguan is now the #1 bestselling SUV in Europe. (You will see them EVERYWHERE there. I got so excited every time I saw Tiggy in Paris.)

New or used Tiguan? 

Next, the question–to buy new or used? Originally, I had been thinking used–but then the used car market exploded and it became just as expensive to buy used as new. So new it was! Thankfully, the VW dealership downtown had a Tiguan that fit what I was looking for aesthetically (I wanted Black or White exterior with black leatherette interior). We went to see it that day, test drove it, and SOLD.

My Honest Review of the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan:

Overall, I LOVE Tiggy. I’m no car expert, and I don’t need anything fancy. I just wanted a nice, practical car at a nice, practical price. And if that’s you–I think you’ll love her too! I think everyone’s definition of “worth the price” varies greatly and it will just depend on your own priorities and preferences, but I can’t imagine wanting anything else for the money. I give the 2021 Tiguan a huge thumbs up and I know I will be driving it for many years to come. It’s perfect for our needs now, and I think it will still suit us nicely if/when we decide to grow our family in the future.

First, I’ll list my criteria when it came to shopping for a car: 

  • Mid-sized SUV (but on the smaller size of that range)
  • High safety ratings
  • City-friendly (easy to maneuver, backup cam/blind spot alert, easy to fit in smaller parking spaces)
  • Great tech features
  • Heated seats (A MUST in Chicago!)
  • Decent trunk space
  • Room to fit 2 car seats (if needed) comfortably without having to move the front seats forward
  • Price: Did not want a luxury price tag. ~$30K max for a new (or relatively new car with low mileage, if used)
  • Leather or leatherette interior, power seats/windows, tech features, panoramic sunroof (the latter optional but ideal!)

At the end of the day, the Tiguan checked ALL of these boxes and more. So, let’s get to the pro’s and con’s:

Volkswagen Tiguan PROs and CONS:

The Pro’s: (Best features!)

The Size: Exterior, Interior and Cargo Space 

This car is the perfect size–a Goldilocks, if you will. It’s roomy enough to comfortably seat four passengers–front seats and back seats–without feeling the least bit cramped. The Tiguan has plenty of trunk space (not the most gigantic trunk, but plenty of cargo space for our needs).

Previously before the Tiguan, I was looking at the Mazda CX5 and CX9, which are really nice cars for a really good price (a couple of my friends have them)! However, with the CX5, you need to push the front seat pretty far forward to accommodate a car seat, which was a deal breaker for us. The trunk space was also a little small for our liking (we want to be able to road trip with it!) The CX9 is really spacious inside, but bigger overall in size than what we wanted. (Not to mention, a lot more expensive!)

The price: 

For everything you get, the price for the Tiguan is really outstanding. I was pretty firm in wanting something around $30K or under. The MSRP for the 2021 Tiguan (depending on the model) starts at around $26,000. I got the AWD (SE) model (which is ~$28K) and it has all the features I could possibly want and more. (Aside from one, which I get to below!)

Performance: 

Tiggy ZIPS. Her turbocharged four cylinder engine is fun to drive and easy to maneuver. Many reviews I read complain about “sluggish acceleration” which I personally do not agree with. Perhaps according to car gurus, but not for me! For the average person, I’m not sure why you would need acceleration any faster than this!?

She’s also dynamite in snow (we have AWD). Whenever it snows, dozens of cars get stuck in our intersection, but not Tiggy! She passes Neal’s performance test. He was skeptical at first (due to the accelerator complaint), he thinks she could have more horsepower for her size, but it’s actually not a problem at all, even on longer highway trips. He’s come around and Tiggy made a believer out of him after all.

Great for the city: 

The Tiguan has lots of qualities that make it a really great city car. Not too big, it’s not too small–it has a backup cam and parking assist to make parallel parking a breeze, and the turning radius is REALLY great. I can flip quick U-turns like nobody’s business, which as anyone who drives in the city can tell you, is CLUTCH. (The cool kids probably don’t say clutch these days, but it seems a really fitting phrase to use here.)

Safety features: 

Obviously safety is a huge factor, especially with a baby on board! The 2021 has been deemed a top safety pick by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Among my favorite safety features are the blind spot monitors on the mirrors, automatic emergency breaking features, adaptive cruise control, and collision warning.

Awesome tech: 

Take this with a grain of salt, because the last time I bought a car it was 2010, and Neal’s car is a 2015, so it’s not like we’re up on “car tech” like the cool kids–but I was pleasantly surprised by how many tech features the 2021 Tiguan has.

I love the infotainment system–which includes Apple CarPlay–which allows you to access your Spotify, the split screen with Spotify and google maps, the rear backup camera, a wireless charging dock, and the coolest part–it has an app called CarNet that you can use to control the car remotely.

This means you can hit remote start a few minutes before you head outside to your car so it’s warmed up. (I’ve also hit it from inside the airport to start the car in the parking garage!)  It also means if you forget where you parked in that giant parking garage, you can pull up a map that tells you exactly where your car is! Also, (forbid!) if you lose your keys, you can start the car with the app. It’s really cool.

Optional third row: 

We didn’t need a third row, but just know the option for a third row in the Tiguan is there if that’s a feature you’re looking for.

The cons: 

There is only ONE con I can personally think of–which is a great thing, in my opinion, but it could be a deal-breaker for you…

There is no power lift gate. (???!?!??!!?!)

It is SO MIND BOGGLING as to how this is possible in a car that has every other feature, but alas, you must close the trunk the old fashioned way. This is a minor thing, I know, and at the end of the day, this was still the perfect car for what I wanted and I’m more than happy to take this trade-off. But still, just something to be aware of! **Note this is just the model I have, I believe the highest/most expensive model has the automatic lift gate!

The only other con Neal mentioned is that the passenger seat does not have power seats, only the driver’s side does. (However, that’s really something I could personally care less about.)

Pointers on negotiating a new car purchase right now:

Keep in mind that due to the lack of supply, there’s pretty much no room to negotiate on price. Expect to pay the sticker price for a new car. Where you CAN negotiate are any extra packages that they claim are “mandatory” that aren’t. (I’m sure this depends on the dealership, but in many instances they’re just trying to upsell you on something that isn’t exactly mandatory).

You don’t need any extra “insurance” in case your seats need to be repaired, you don’t need extra roadside assistance, or some kind of “deal” on fancy tires. Be firm (but polite of course) that you don’t want anything other than the car itself and you aren’t interesting in paying for anything extra. Expect two or three very long obligatory wait times while your salesperson talks to their manager. Of course, how successful you are in getting these things knocked off will depend on how in-demand the car is, and how motivated they are to move it–but be patient, as it can be worth it to save you a good amount of money in the end. (We didn’t get everything they tried to include knocked off, but we got a fair amount.) Overall I was very pleased with our experience at the VW dealership in downtown Chicago.

And, that’s all folks! There you have it–we love Tiggy! 

Overall, the 2021 Tiguan has proved to be the perfect fit for our family! I hope this was a helpful review if you’re in the market for a mid-size SUV!