Used 2004 Volkswagen Touareg Review

Edmunds expert review

A pleasant blend of the pavement-dwelling crossover and the rugged off-roader swathed in Volkswagen style.

What's new for 2004

The five-passenger Touareg is an all-new midsize SUV from Volkswagen. Designed to provide both excellent handling on pavement and a high level of off-road ability, the Touareg, despite its unibody design, is a real SUV, not a soft-roader. Alongside that, buyers can look forward to beautifully furnished cabins equipped with plenty of standard convenience and safety features.

Vehicle overview

Volkswagen attacks the 2003 luxury market in earnest with a two-pronged strategy: the Phaeton sedan in the super-luxury segment and the Touareg sport/utility in the luxury SUV marketplace.

Co-developed with Porsche to save investment costs, the Volkswagen Touareg shares the Porsche Cayenne's basic platform and structure, but little else. The name stems from the African Sahara, where it means "knights of the desert," and is used to identify a people known for their traditions and ability to adapt to difficult conditions. It is sized to be a smidge longer and a skosh wider than a BMW X5.

While Volkswagen may change the name for the vehicle's launch in the United States, the hardware will remain the same as its European counterpart. A unibody crossover SUV, the Touareg sports permanent four-wheel-drive system comprised of a transfer case, multi-plate clutch and three locking differentials. Though the hardware sounds serious, the Touareg is designed to perform as well on the road as it does off, where the majority of owners are likely to drive. Still, up to 100 percent of the engine's power can be transferred to an individual axle if the need arises.

Two engines are likely to be available when the Touareg arrives stateside. Standard will be a 230-horsepower 3.2-liter V6, while the same 300-horse 4.2-liter V8 found in the Audi A6 and A8 will be available under the truck's aluminum hood.

Underpinning the new VW SUV will be a driver-selectable, fully pneumatic, double-wishbone suspension with continuous damping control and a feature that automatically lowers the truck closer to the ground as speeds increase. Volkswagen went to great lengths to keep noise, vibration and harshness from irritating occupants. For example, the front sub-frame uses special noise insulation to help keep the cabin serene.

Inside the Touareg there is room for five adults in a luxuriously outfitted atmosphere. Front passengers get multi-adjustable seats, while those in the rear benefit from a three-zone climate control system that lets them set their own temperature. The airbag system is comprehensive, including front, side and curtain airbags for maximum protection. Active head restraints further keep front seat occupants from getting hurt.

Other notable technologies that will appear on the Touareg include ABS with hydraulic brake assist (HBA), electronic stability programming (ESP), and engine braking control (EBC).

The Touareg is set to debut at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, and should arrive in U.S. showrooms in the middle of the 2003 calendar year.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.