2021 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black new car reviews

Photography Courtesy Volkswagen

Believe it or not, the Tiguan is one of just a few smaller SUVs that can be had with a third row. Will that third row actually be usable by adults? Perhaps not, but if it's something you think you'll need because you hope little Jimmy becomes a social butterfly, it's there for you.

At any rate, you're probably wondering how the Tiguan functions as an SUV. For that, keep scrolling.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

At first, it wasn’t a whirlwind romance. The Tiguan just felt nervous–nervous throttle, nervous transmission, nervous going in a straight line.

But then something happened after a day or so: We figured out each other. Okay, maybe this is going to work out just fine.

Something else I noticed: In a world where every SUV is decked to the gills, this one isn’t. Want to open the tailgate? Do so manually. The interior, as a result, isn’t just covered in buttons and switches, dials and knobs.

The interior door panel, for example, is kinda plain: controls for the locks, windows and mirrors plus a handle to open the thing. I don’t need a schematic to work things.

And know what? I kinda like that. During a week with this one–including two airport runs–I never found myself looking for an option that it didn’t have. It did SUV things just as an SUV thing should.

Perhaps–and bear with me–we don’t need every single possible automated feature? It gets back to that VW-ness: back to the task at hand.

Thanks, VW, for giving us an SUV that’s a bit more driver-centric without getting silly. (I’m looking at your, Alfa Romeo.) The SE R-Line offered well-bolstered seats, a proper steering wheel and crisp manners. It’s not too big yet still offers room for seven.

It’s not going to set a lap record at the Nürburgring but neither am I. For around town, it’s quick enough. Plus it looks good.

One small thing, however: Dear VW, can we get some standard USB plugs in your vehicles, please? I get that, maybe, USB-C is some kind of future, but maybe both? (Although I see that $49 buys me an adaptor and, well, that seems a bit excessive.)

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