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2023 Volkswagen Tiguan: Choosing the Right Trim

The 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan is a comfortable, well-built compact crossover ready to challenge the likes of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Escape, and Chevrolet Equinox.

There are even more rivals, so the Tiguan relies on its uniquely German approach to building cars. The design has an elegant simplicity, with VW’s latest safety and technology features at the ready. It also includes a small but functional third-row seat, but only for those selecting one of the front-drive-wheel (FWD) models.

Keeping it simple, the Tiguan has only one engine choice, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 184 horsepower. For an additional $1,500, a buyer can add VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which comes standard on the top-of-the-line SEL R-Line trim.

Note: Due to the ongoing microchip shortage and supply chain issues, VW may delete features like rear parking sensors and ventilated seats and return a credit. Check with your VW dealer for status updates when placing an order.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan S (starting at $26,590)

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan S Front

The S trim is the least expensive way to get into a Tiguan. It offers a surprisingly robust list of standard equipment, a boon for budget-minded shoppers who think buying a base model means having to make sacrifices.

Beginning with the standard driver assists, the Tiguan S comes with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Also standard are a rearview monitor, a tire pressure monitor, and complete airbag protection, including front, front side-impact, and side curtains.

The Tiguan S includes a Drive Mode Selection feature with four modes: Normal, Sport, Eco, and Individual. When selected, the modes alter throttle, steering input, and shift points.

When equipped with the 4Motion AWD system, the driver gains similar control modes for On-Road, Snow, Off-Road, and Off-Road Custom.

A quick walk around the Tiguan S exterior reveals LED headlights and taillights, power heated side mirrors, auto on/off headlights, black roof rails, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

VW’s KESSY keyless entry comes standard. It requires only having the key fob in your purse or pocket to unlock the doors by touching the handle. Once inside, a push of a button is all that’s needed to start the engine.

A manually operated rear liftgate includes a rear window defroster, wiper, and washer.

Moving to the cabin, the Tiguan S has manually adjustable heated front seats, cloth upholstery, manual single-zone air conditioning, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with controls for the audio, cruise control, and Bluetooth.

An 8-inch digital instrument cluster replaces traditional analog gauges with digital reproductions. The display offers two views plus customizable widgets showing various vehicle information.

Other features include one-touch up/down front power windows, power door locks, a 40/20/40-split folding and reclining second-row seat, a 50/50-split folding third-row seat, front and rear cup holders, and a total of three 12-volt outlets.

VW’s MIB2 infotainment system includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen with an AM/FM radio, two USB-C ports, six speakers, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. VW’s Car-Net subscription-based apps provide access to services like remote start, remote unlock, and vehicle locator, among others.

Optional on the Tiguan S is the IQ.Drive Package. It adds to the standard driver assists with lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, plus Travel and Emergency assists.

Travel Assist is a semi-autonomous driving assistant that helps keep the Tiguan in its lane, although drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel.

Emergency Assist can sense if the driver becomes incapacitated. If such an event occurs, the system keeps the vehicle in its lane while slowing to a complete stop and activating the emergency flashers.

The Convenience Package requires the IQ.Drive Package and adds rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

With the $1,295 destination fee, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan S costs $27,885. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, expect a monthly payment of about $501. See 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan S models for sale

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan S includes:

  • Digital Cockpit – A modern electronic instrument cluster shows various display themes and allows for customization, so drivers see precisely the information they think is most important.
  • Heated front seats – A nice comfort feature when the weather turns chilly keeps front passengers comfortable without needing to blast the heater.
  • Android Auto/Apple CarPlay– With these apps, you can connect your smartphone to the Tiguan’s infotainment system, providing access to your music, messaging, and navigation.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE (starting at $30,220)

While the SE adds nearly $3,600 to the S trim’s price, the features gained might make it a worthwhile move, especially for those who like a few more creature comforts and a bit more high-tech.

Building off the S, the SE adds heated washer nozzles, 18-inch alloy wheels, remote start, heated windshield wiper de-icers, and a power rear liftgate.

The contents of the IQ.Drive Package come standard, as is an upgraded MIB3 infotainment system featuring an 8-inch touchscreen with voice control, SiriusXM 360L satellite radio, and two additional USB-C ports.

Also included are wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a wireless smartphone charging pad.

Interior enhancements include dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar control, and a 6-way manual adjustable front passenger seat.

A panoramic glass sunroof is optional.

With the $1,295 destination fee, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE costs $31,515. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, expect a monthly payment of $566. See 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE models for sale

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE includes:

  • Heated washer nozzles and wiper de-icers – These helpful additions help keep snow and ice from building up on the wiper blades and prevent the washer nozzles from freezing over.
  • Adaptive cruise control – When using cruise control, this system maintains a safe distance from the vehicle directly ahead. It can even bring the car to a complete stop without driver intervention.
  • Wireless charging pad – Place a compatible device on the pad, and it will charge without the need for cables and an open USB port.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black (starting price $32,950)

The R-Line Black adds a sporty look to the SE, with 19-inch black alloy wheels, R-Line bumpers, and body-colored lower side sills.

Standard equipment above the SE trim includes a panoramic glass sunroof, 15-color ambient LED interior lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and front and rear parking sensors.

With the $1,295 destination fee, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black costs $34,245. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, expect a monthly payment of about $615. See 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black models for sale

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SE R-Line Black includes:

  • 19-inch wheels – These black alloy wheels give the Tiguan a sporty look, and their low-profile 19-inch tires help improve cornering.
  • LED ambient interior lighting – Allows individual personalization by choosing between 15 different ambient interior lighting colors covering the upper front door panels, radio, and instrument cluster.
  • Parking sensors – Using ultrasonic sensors in the front and rear bumpers, this system sounds a warning if the Tiguan is getting too close to a stationary object.

2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line (starting at $37,320)

The SEL R-Line is the Tiguan for those who want the best VW offers in an all-in-one package. In fact, many of the upgrades also appear in Audi SUVs, giving the Tiguan a bit of a luxury edge over its rivals.

The SEL distinguishes itself from lesser Tiguan trims with an illuminated grille outline, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights, and 20-inch alloy wheels. 4Motion AWD comes standard, which deletes the third-row seat.

The SEL includes every available driver assist system, adding Park Assist parallel and perpendicular parking aids, automatic high-beam headlights, a 360-degree bird’s eye Area View camera, and road sign recognition.

The SEL includes leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, 3-position memory for the driver’s seat, an 8-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, and a hands-free power liftgate with an open/close feature.

The infotainment system gains navigation and a 9-speaker 480-watt Fender Premium audio system, while the instrument cluster gets upgraded to a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro system. The Cockpit Pro offers three screen views, including a full-screen map display when using navigation and 21 possible options for viewing things like the driver assist features, phone information, and vehicle status.

With the $1,295 destination fee, the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line costs $38,615. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, expect a monthly payment of $694. See 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line models for sale

2023 Volkswagen SEL R-Line includes:

  • Fender Premium audio – Music lovers will appreciate the 9-speaker audio system specially tuned by Fender. It delivers crisp, clear highs, rich bass, and impressive volume.
  • Ventilated front seats – A welcome addition during the summer driving season, these seats circulate cool air through the perforated leather upholstery, helping to keep occupants cool and dry.
  • Area View camera – Using four external camera views, the system creates an aerial 360-degree view above the vehicle, allowing you to park or maneuver confidently.


What is the best 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan trim?

If great audio and super high-tech features don’t impress, we’d go with the SE or SE R-Line Black trims. They offer features we think most buyers desire without pushing the price much above the $30,000 mark.

How many miles per gallon does the 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan get?

The front-drive Tiguan is rated by the EPA at 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 combined. With 4Motion AWD, the figures drop to 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. R-Line trims with 4Motion drop one mpg from both figures, likely due to the larger wheel and tire combos.

Which 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan trim offers the most safety?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t perform a frontal crash test with the Tiguan. However, they did conduct a side-impact test where the Tiguan earned a five-star rating, but with a safety concern alert due to the driver’s door unlatching and opening upon impact.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had no such issue, however, awarding the Tiguan excellent marks in every crash test and naming it a Top Safety Pick + candidate.

If you go with the S, we’d opt for IQ.Drive. It brings more safety systems that help to avoid accidents in the first place. The SEL R-Line has the most driver aids and safety systems, but it’s also the most expensive trim.

Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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