VW's Touareg TDI is good at nearly everything. It's quiet, comfortable and, with its turbodiesel engine, has a cruising range of well over 600 miles. Although lower Touareg trim levels are competitive, the R-Line model we tested had an MSRP higher than diesel variants of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 and Audi Q7.
PerformanceThere's always torque on-demand from the turbodiesel V6, and this keeps things fun. The 8-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but tends to lug the engine more than we like. Shifting into manual mode eliminates this problem.
The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 makes 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, accelerating to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. The low-end power is especially pleasing, and it's a smooth runner.
In daily driving situations the brakes feel powerful without being touchy. Pedal feel is medium-firm and progressive throughout its stroke. These are also welcome qualities for off-road situations.
The steering is weighted well for street driving, but slow off-road situations exhibit light steering, which can make it easy to lose track of what the front tires are up to.
The Touareg is easy to pilot over long stretches of road and is an equally adept handler, with more than enough suspension compliance for city driving. The electronic stability control intervenes early.
Power delivery is linear. On mountain roads the 8-speed transmission struggles to find the proper gear at low rpm. By shifting to manual mode we were able to keep it above the 2,000-rpm sweet spot.
The Touareg can tow 7,700 pounds when properly equipped, which is better than many of its less rugged rivals.
There's enough ground clearance, 7.9 inches, to keep us from getting nervous during moderate off-roading. Volkswagen's 4MOTION all-wheel drive is plenty competent for soft-roading.
ComfortThe Touareg got high marks in all comfort-related categories. A good thing, this, because with its 600-mile fuel range, you'll be sitting in the Touareg for long stretches of highway.
Hours of driving caused little-to-no seat-induced fatigue. The driver's seat is firm yet supportive and has good lumbar support. Rear seat head- and legroom is plentiful, even for six-footers.
The standard sport suspension is surprisingly comfortable in everyday situations. Even with 20-inch wheels there's enough tire sidewall to help absorb road imperfections.
Some occasional tire hum along with a slight drone from the diesel engine are the only hints the Touareg is in motion. This interior keeps occupants well isolated from the outside world.
InteriorInterior space is a strong selling point of the VW. Not only is there commendable room for passengers, but it's relatively easy to get in and out of, too.
Both the driver's seat and the steering wheel offer plenty of adjustment to help you find that just-right driving position. Secondary controls are a combination of easy-to-use buttons and knobs.
Taller passengers will have little trouble climbing in and out of any seating position. The front and rear doors swing wide, helping the cause. But the doors are a bit on the heavy side.
There's a lot of room inside the cabin. No one will complain about a lack of head, leg or elbow room, although second-row passengers get snug with three across. A third row is not available.
Despite its somewhat boxy styling, the Touareg has only average forward visibility. Rearward sightlines benefit from a large back window. A rearview camera is standard equipment.
The cargo area is nice and square, allowing users to maximize capacity. That said, at 32.1 cubic-feet, its dimensions rank only average among competitor SUVs.
ValueThe Touareg is well-built and offers competitive warranties and free maintenance. Fuel economy was as-advertised. But cost is a sticking point. The R-Line we tested had a starting MSRP well above competitors from Porsche, BMW and Audi.
Build Quality (vs. $)
We did not experience any fit and finish issues with the Volkswagen, and the interior is classy and well built.
The Touareg TDI R-Line is considered a premium SUV by VW. It comes with pretty much all the features you'd ever want as standard equipment. The MSRP of our tester was $58,525.
The Lux Touareg TDI model has a $51,945 MSRP. But the R-Line we tested was $58,525. Compare these base-trim diesels: Porsche Cayenne ($57,575), BMW X5 ($57,525) and Audi Q7 ($53,795).
The EPA rates the Touareg TDI at 23 mpg Combined (20 City/29 Highway). We averaged 23 mpg overall, and 26 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds test loop.
The Touareg's basic warranty is for 3 years/36,000 miles. The powertrain is covered for 10 years/100,000 miles, which is excellent for the class.
Volkswagen Carefree Maintenance pays the tab for scheduled service for 2 years or 24,000 miles, and roadside assistance is free for 3 years/36,000 miles.
Fun To DriveThe Touareg TDI is a great SUV. It's versatile, capable and, to a degree, we consider it to be fun-to-drive.
You can probably imagine just how fun 406 lb-ft of instant torque can be, even in a 5,000-lb SUV. Still, the Touareg TDI is not a true performance SUV. Rather, it's an all-around sport-utility.
The Touareg TDI does most things right, very few wrong. We like what it brings to the table in terms of life on and off the beaten path. Its dual-nature abilities give it more personality.