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New engine upgrades make the 2007 Volkswagen Touareg the best yet. Unfortunately, obvious drawbacks prevent us from giving it a full recommendation except to those few who plan to take advantage of its off-road talents.
Upscale interior, polished road manners, true off-road capability, diesel engine option, lengthy standard equipment list.
Smaller backseat than competitors, hefty curb weight results in disappointing fuel economy from V6 and V8, no third-row seat.
Available Touareg SUV Models
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Volkswagen has thoroughly revamped the Touareg's engine lineup this year. A new, larger V6 engine makes 36 more horsepower than last year's V6, and a new V8 provides 40 more hp. It would also seem that the long-delayed diesel-fueled V10 is finally slated for a full year in 2007 after coming back from the dead in late 2006. Other upgrades this year include adaptive xenon headlights, an Apple iPod adapter, a power liftgate and remote keyless start.
As most people know, Volkswagen translates into English as "people's car." For a long time, this meaning has perhaps been too salient for many VW dealers. Despite Americans happily opening their wallets for all things truck and SUV the past two decades, Volkswagen's lineup has been all about the car. It was only three years ago that VW finally brought its first modern SUV, the Touareg, to U.S. shores.
It's pronounced "Tour-regg" -- with emphasis on the first syllable. The word translates literally to "free folk," and refers to a nomadic tribe whose travels regularly take them across the Sahara Desert. Featuring architecture similar to that of the Porsche Cayenne, the midsize Touareg is unusual in that it possesses attributes of both traditional SUVs and their softer crossover SUV relatives. The Touareg's carlike unibody construction is similar to that of the latest crossover SUVs, but it still has the ground clearance and 4WD running gear equal to a traditional SUV.
The best of both worlds? In theory, yes, but in reality this approach hasn't brought the Touareg a whole lot of sales success. Consumers comment favorably about the vehicle's high-quality interior and upscale image but have been put off by its hefty curb weight, thirst for fuel and limited interior flexibility. In response to these complaints, Volkswagen has made a number of updates to the 2007 Touareg.
Most notably, there are all-new engines under the hood. Previously, the Touareg had a 3.2-liter, 240-horsepower V6 and a 4.2-liter, 310-hp V8. This year, Volkswagen has installed the same engines used for the new Audi Q7 SUV. Featuring the latest technologies, including direct fuel injection, the new 3.6-liter V6 makes 276 hp and the V8 produces 350 hp. Fuel economy, though still low for this segment, is largely unaffected by the power boosts.
This year VW is also bringing back the diesel-fueled, 5.0-liter V10 TDI. Well, "bring back" is perhaps too strong. "Introduce" is more suitable. Though promised for the vehicle's 2004 debut, few V10 TDI motors ever made it into U.S.-bound Touaregs due to emissions restrictions. Only now, with the new low-sulfur diesel fuel being introduced across the country, can the turbodiesel V10 meet requirements. Like most other 2007 diesel-fueled cars, it has 45-state certification only.
These engines, as well as other updates, keep the 2007 Volkswagen Touareg fresh. There's a lot to like about this SUV, and it should be a good choice for buyers wanting one that's upscale but not necessarily showy. Those planning on frequent off-roading or in love with diesel engines should also take a look, though the near-$60,000 MSRP for the V10 TDI is rather steep. If you don't fit into those groups, vehicles such as the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Infiniti FX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class or Volvo XC90 might be more to your liking.
The 2007 Volkswagen Touareg midsize SUV is available in three trim levels that reference the equipped engine -- V6, V8 and V10 TDI. Each Touareg comes with alloy wheels (17s for the V6 and 18s for the V8 and V10), a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leatherette seats, a telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a premium audio system with a single CD player.
A variety of option packages, depending on the trim level, are available for further customization. Exterior or mechanical highlights include an adjustable air suspension, 19-inch wheels, a locking rear differential, adaptive bi-xenon HID headlights, park-assist sensors and a power liftgate. Inside, leather seating, power front seats, driver seat memory, heated rear seats, four-zone automatic climate control, keyless start and a navigation system with a backup camera are offered.
The Volkswagen Touareg's 3.6-liter V6 engine produces 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. On V8 models, a new 4.2-liter V8 delivers 350 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque. The range-topping Touareg V10 TDI has a diesel-fueled, turbocharged V10 displacing 5.0 liters. It's rated at 310 hp and a stout 553 lb-ft of torque. Each engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to a full-time four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing. None of these engines delivers impressive fuel economy; the V10 is best at 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway. Properly equipped, any '07 Touareg can tow 7,700 pounds.
Every 2007 VW Touareg comes with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, hill descent and incline rollback control. Passive safety features include side airbags for front occupants and full-length side-curtain airbags. In crash tests, the NHTSA has given the Touareg a top five-star rating for the vehicle's protection of occupants in frontal and side impacts.
Inside, the five-passenger Touareg has an upscale two-tone ensemble accented by real wood and aluminum. Most surfaces are soft-touch, and what hard surfaces there are (lower dash, console and doors) feel smooth and substantial. Build quality is excellent, too. The backseat isn't overly roomy for a midsize SUV, and we encourage families to try before they buy. Cargo capacity is average -- 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 71 cubes when they're folded.
Even if you never leave the pavement, the 2007 Volkswagen Touareg should satisfy. The new V6 and V8 engines provide a welcome power boost, as they help overcome the vehicle's hefty curb weight. The V10 TDI might have been the range-topping choice back in '04, but its massive torque is tempered by a 3-ton curb weight -- nearly 1,000 pounds more than a base V6 model -- and a hefty price premium. For all-around performance the V8 would be our choice, and for shoppers on a budget, the more fuel-efficient V6 should be perfectly adequate. On the road, the Touareg's ride quality is smooth and stable. The SUV is also surprisingly agile around corners when equipped with the air suspension. Taken off-road, the Touareg amazes as it tackles steep passes and deep ruts normally reserved for rough-and-tumble Jeeps.
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