Restraint Has Its Rewards: The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SE

Side view of 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan
The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan.
Last summer, we drove, and very much liked, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium.  That's the top-of-the-line of VW's smaller crossover, and we felt it justified its $36,250 price with its "usefulness, comfort, quiet and driving dynamics."

So what's it like to take nearly a $10,000 step down in Tiguans?

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan from above
2019 Volkswagen Tiguan.
This year's tester Tiguan is the SE.  That's one up from the base S model and two down from the SEL Premium.  There's an SEL in between.

The base price of the SE is $26,695.  The engine is the same 184-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four.  The EPA fuel economy is the same in the city (22 mpg) and better on the highway (29 vs. 27) because the SE we drove was a two-wheel drive model.  The SEL Premium only comes with VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

You give up the SEL Premium's standard Fender premium audio system and its LED headlights, as well as the navigation and adaptive cruise control found on the SEL.  19-inch wheels become 17s, leather seating surfaces become V-Tex leatherette, and that's about it.

Interior view of 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan
2019 Volkswagen Tiguan interior.
For a nearly ten-thousand dollar savings, that's a deal I'd be very willing to make.  Beyond those extras in the upper trim levels, the Tiguan SE is the same machine. Our tester had two options, Habanero Orange Metallic paint ($295) and a panoramic sunroof ($1,200) that, along with a $995 destination charge, brought the bottom line of our tester to $29,185...but that's still a terrific price and a big saving compared to the SEL Premium.

Don't get me wrong---the SEL Premium is still absolutely worth the money.  But if you're in the market for a Tiguan and want the price tag on this side of 30-thousand instead of the other side, the SE is a fairly painless compromise.