Volkswagen Tiguan Se Vs Sel: Which Trim Is Right For You?

If you’re shopping for a 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan, you’re likely debating between the well-equipped SE and the premium SEL trims. While the SE offers great value, the SEL includes some nice upgrades for extra comfort and tech.

In this comprehensive comparison guide, we’ll highlight the key differences between the Tiguan SE and SEL models to help you decide which is the better fit for your needs and budget.

Tiguan SE Overview

The Volkswagen Tiguan SE is a popular trim level in the Tiguan lineup, offering a range of features and capabilities that make it a great choice for many buyers. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from the Tiguan SE:

Standard 2.0L turbocharged engine

The Tiguan SE comes equipped with a powerful and efficient 2.0L turbocharged engine. This engine delivers impressive performance and acceleration, making it a joy to drive on both city streets and highways.

With its turbocharged technology, the Tiguan SE ensures a smooth and responsive driving experience.

8-speed automatic transmission

The Tiguan SE also features an 8-speed automatic transmission, which provides seamless gear shifts and contributes to the overall smoothness of the driving experience. This transmission is designed to optimize fuel efficiency and performance, giving you the best of both worlds.

Front-wheel drive

As a front-wheel drive vehicle, the Tiguan SE offers excellent handling and maneuverability. Whether you’re navigating tight city streets or cruising on the open road, the front-wheel drive system ensures a stable and controlled ride.

17″ alloy wheels

The Tiguan SE comes with stylish 17″ alloy wheels that not only enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the vehicle but also contribute to its performance. These wheels are lightweight and durable, providing a smooth and comfortable ride.

Automatic headlights

The Tiguan SE is equipped with automatic headlights, which adjust their brightness based on ambient light conditions. This feature enhances visibility and safety, especially during nighttime driving.

Heated side mirrors

During cold weather conditions, the heated side mirrors of the Tiguan SE help to prevent fogging and provide clear visibility. This feature is particularly useful for those living in colder climates.

Cloth seats

The Tiguan SE features comfortable cloth seats that are designed to provide support and comfort during long drives. The cloth upholstery is easy to maintain and adds a touch of elegance to the interior.

6.5″ touchscreen display

The Tiguan SE comes with a 6.5″ touchscreen display, which serves as the command center for various infotainment features. This user-friendly interface allows you to access navigation, media, and connectivity options with ease.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

The Tiguan SE is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to seamlessly integrate your smartphone with the vehicle’s infotainment system. This feature enables hands-free calling, messaging, and access to your favorite apps, making your driving experience more convenient and enjoyable.

Tiguan SEL Differences

If you’re considering purchasing a Volkswagen Tiguan, you may be wondering what sets the SE and SEL trims apart. The SEL trim offers several additional features and upgrades that may be worth considering for certain buyers.

Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between the Tiguan SE and SEL trims.

Available AWD

One notable difference between the Tiguan SE and SEL trims is the availability of all-wheel drive (AWD). While the SE trim comes standard with front-wheel drive, the SEL trim offers the option to upgrade to AWD.

This can provide enhanced traction and stability, especially in inclement weather or challenging road conditions.

18″ Alloy Wheels

The SEL trim also boasts stylish 18″ alloy wheels, which not only add a touch of sophistication to the Tiguan’s exterior but also provide a smoother and more comfortable ride. These larger wheels can also improve handling and performance on the road.

LED Headlights/Taillights

When it comes to illumination, the SEL trim comes equipped with LED headlights and taillights. LED lights offer a brighter and more energy-efficient lighting solution compared to traditional halogen lights. This means better visibility for the driver and increased safety on the road.

Chrome Exterior Accents

For those who appreciate a touch of luxury, the SEL trim includes chrome exterior accents. These accents can be found on the front grille, window surrounds, and door handles, adding an extra level of sophistication to the Tiguan’s exterior design.

Leatherette Seats

Inside the Tiguan SEL, you’ll find comfortable leatherette seats. Leatherette is a high-quality synthetic leather that offers a premium look and feel. It’s also more resistant to wear and tear, making it a durable choice for those seeking both luxury and practicality.

8-Way Power Driver’s Seat

The SEL trim takes comfort to the next level with an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. This feature allows you to find the perfect seating position with ease, providing optimal support and comfort during long drives.

Heated Front Seats

Winter driving can be made more enjoyable with the SEL trim’s heated front seats. With just the push of a button, you can warm up quickly and stay cozy on chilly mornings or during colder climates.

Ventilated Front Seats

In contrast to the SE trim, the SEL trim offers ventilated front seats. This feature helps keep you cool and comfortable during hot summer months, allowing air to circulate through the seats and reducing sweat and discomfort.

Dual-Zone Climate Control

Another upgrade in the SEL trim is the inclusion of dual-zone climate control. With this feature, both the driver and front passenger can set their preferred temperature independently. This ensures personalized comfort for everyone inside the vehicle.

8″ Touchscreen Display

The SEL trim boasts an 8″ touchscreen display, which is larger compared to the SE trim’s 6.5″ touchscreen. This larger display provides a more immersive and user-friendly experience when accessing the Tiguan’s infotainment system, navigation, and other features.

Satellite Radio

Music lovers will appreciate the inclusion of satellite radio in the SEL trim. With access to a wide range of channels and genres, you can enjoy commercial-free music, sports, news, and entertainment wherever your Tiguan takes you.

Remote Start

Lastly, the SEL trim offers the convenience of remote start. With the push of a button on your key fob, you can start your Tiguan and have it pre-warmed or pre-cooled before entering the vehicle. This is especially useful during extreme weather conditions.

Safety and Driver Assistance

When it comes to safety, both the Volkswagen Tiguan SE and SEL trims come equipped with a range of advanced driver assistance features to help keep you and your passengers safe on the road. Let’s take a closer look at some of these features:

Forward collision warning

Both the SE and SEL trims are equipped with forward collision warning, which uses sensors to detect potential collisions with vehicles or pedestrians ahead. If a potential collision is detected, the system will alert the driver with visual and audible warnings, giving them time to react and avoid an accident.

Automatic emergency braking

In addition to forward collision warning, both trims also come with automatic emergency braking. This feature works in conjunction with the forward collision warning system and can automatically apply the brakes if a potential collision is imminent and the driver fails to react in time.

This can help mitigate the severity of a collision or even prevent it altogether.

Blind spot monitoring

Changing lanes can be a challenge, but both the SE and SEL trims make it safer with blind spot monitoring. This feature uses sensors to detect vehicles in your blind spot and will alert you if it’s unsafe to change lanes.

It’s a small but crucial addition that can help prevent accidents on the highway.

Rear cross traffic alert

Backing out of a parking space can be nerve-wracking, but both trims have you covered with rear cross traffic alert. This feature uses sensors to detect vehicles approaching from the side as you reverse, and will alert you if it’s unsafe to continue backing up.

It’s particularly useful in crowded parking lots where visibility can be limited.

Lane keeping assist

Both the SE and SEL trims come equipped with lane keeping assist, which uses cameras to detect lane markings on the road. If you start to drift out of your lane without signaling, the system will gently steer you back into the correct lane.

It’s a helpful feature, especially on long drives when driver fatigue can become a factor.

Adaptive cruise control

Long highway drives can be tiring, but the adaptive cruise control feature available in both trims can help alleviate some of the stress. This feature allows you to set a desired speed and following distance, and the system will automatically adjust your speed to maintain that distance from the vehicle ahead.

It’s a great feature for maintaining a safe and comfortable driving experience on the open road.

Park distance control

Parallel parking is a skill that not everyone possesses, but the park distance control feature available in both trims can make it easier. This feature uses sensors to detect obstacles around the vehicle while parking, and will provide audible and visual alerts to help you park safely and avoid any unwanted contact with other vehicles or objects.

Performance and Fuel Economy

When it comes to performance and fuel economy, both the Volkswagen Tiguan SE and SEL trims offer impressive features that cater to different needs and preferences.

184 horsepower turbo engine

Under the hood of both the SE and SEL trims, you’ll find a 184 horsepower turbocharged engine that delivers a punchy and exhilarating driving experience. This engine provides ample power for everyday driving situations, whether you’re merging onto the highway or navigating through city traffic.

Decent acceleration

The Tiguan SE and SEL trims also offer decent acceleration, allowing you to effortlessly overtake slower vehicles when needed. Whether you’re looking for a sportier driving experience or simply want the peace of mind knowing that your vehicle can handle sudden acceleration, both trims deliver in this aspect.

Composed handling

When it comes to handling, the Tiguan SE and SEL trims excel in providing a composed and confident ride. With responsive steering and a well-tuned suspension system, these trims offer a smooth and enjoyable driving experience, whether you’re tackling winding roads or cruising on the highway.

Up to 28 mpg combined (FWD)

For those concerned about fuel efficiency, the Tiguan SE trim offers an impressive EPA-estimated fuel economy of up to 28 mpg combined for the front-wheel drive (FWD) model. This means you can enjoy long drives without worrying too much about frequent stops at the gas station.

Up to 26 mpg combined (AWD)

If you opt for the Tiguan SEL trim with all-wheel drive (AWD), you can still enjoy respectable fuel efficiency, with an EPA-estimated rating of up to 26 mpg combined. This is particularly impressive considering the added traction and versatility that comes with the AWD system.

Pricing Comparison

SE FWD MSRP: $27,000

When comparing the pricing of the Volkswagen Tiguan SE and SEL trims, it’s important to consider your budget and the features you prioritize. The SE trim, with a starting price of $27,000, offers a great balance between affordability and functionality.

It comes with a front-wheel-drive system, making it a suitable choice for those who prioritize fuel efficiency and don’t require all-wheel drive capabilities.

SE AWD MSRP: $28,700

If you prefer the added traction and stability of an all-wheel-drive system, the SE AWD trim is available at a slightly higher price point of $28,700. This option is ideal for drivers who frequently encounter challenging road conditions or prioritize enhanced handling and performance.

SEL FWD MSRP: $32,000

For those seeking a more premium driving experience, the SEL trim is worth considering. Priced at $32,000, it offers additional features and luxury upgrades compared to the SE trims. The SEL comes with a front-wheel-drive system, providing a balance between comfort and performance.

SEL AWD MSRP: $33,700

For ultimate versatility and capability, the SEL AWD trim is available at an MSRP of $33,700. This option provides the benefits of all-wheel drive, ensuring improved handling and traction in various road conditions.

It’s a great choice for drivers who prioritize safety and want the added peace of mind that comes with all-wheel drive.

It’s important to note that pricing may vary depending on additional options and packages you choose. It’s recommended to visit the official Volkswagen website or contact your local Volkswagen dealership for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information.


The Volkswagen Tiguan SE focuses on value with its ample standard features, while the SEL offers more luxury and technology upgrades. With its lower cost and solid equipment, the SE is best for budget-focused buyers.

But the SEL provides more premium amenities and available AWD, appealing to those wanting higher comfort and performance. Overall, choosing between the Tiguan SE and SEL depends on your must-have features and budget.

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