As the popularity of SUVs has grown, it seems that much of the original rugged off-road personality these models were known for has been bred out of the segment in favor of on-pavement comfort and drivability. Among luxury SUVs, that shift seems even more evident. The original Volkswagen Touareg was one of the sport-utilities that clung to those off-road roots, but the next generation made the shift toward the everyday.
It's hard to argue with the results, though. The first-generation Touareg was a capable model known for its high-class interior, off-road ability and respectable towing capacity. But it was also very heavy and had subpar fuel economy. The newer Touareg lacks those more serious off-road chops but is otherwise a superior vehicle that's more in line with what consumers want from a modern and luxurious SUV.
Current Volkswagen Touareg
The Volkswagen Touareg is a five-passenger midsize SUV that's available in six main trim levels: Sport, Lux, X Special Edition, R-Line, Executive and Hybrid. All but the Hybrid and X Special Edition can be had with either gasoline V6 ("VR6") or turbodiesel ("TDI") V6 power.
The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, while the turbodiesel V6 TDI generates 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid variant features a supercharged, direct-injection 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine paired with an electric motor that combine to produce 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard on all models.
Even the base Sport trim comes with bi-xenon headlights, a power tailgate, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated power front seats. A navigation system package with keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera and a hands-free power liftgate is optional. Stepping up to the Lux trim gets you all that, plus a panoramic sunroof and leather upholstery. Celebrating this model's 10th anniversary, the X Special Edition is essentially a Lux with the TDI engine, exclusive paint, unique wheels and upgraded leather upholstery. The R-Line loses the hands-free liftgate, but otherwise is a Lux with 20-inch wheels, a sport body kit and a sport-tuned suspension. In addition to the Lux features, the Executive features a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a top-view parking camera and a premium sound system. Opting for the Hybrid adds a power-adjustable steering column and additional front seat functions.
In our reviews, we've found that the Volkswagen Touareg is a well-designed crossover SUV that offers commendable driving dynamics. The Touareg's base V6 is a solid pick, but we've found the more fuel-efficient TDI diesel more to our liking and well worth the added premium. On the other hand, the Hybrid model boasts the type of power and performance of a V8 engine, but its less-than-frugal fuel economy may fall short of some expectations. In essence, it consumes about as much as a V6 engine would. A major highlight for any Touareg is the cabin, which scores points for its upscale design and high-quality materials.
Read the most recent 2014 Volkswagen Touareg review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volkswagen Touareg page.