Used 2016 Volkswagen Touareg Diesel Review

The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg is an impressive midsize luxury SUV with strong engines, a refined nature and stout towing capability. Its high price and/or non-luxury badge may be a tough pill to swallow, however.




what's new

For 2016, the Volkswagen Touareg is essentially unchanged. The slow-selling Touareg Hybrid has been discontinued. Regarding the diesel-powered Touareg TDI, please see Edmunds' full coverage of the VW diesel situation.

vehicle overview

It's been on sale for more than a decade and we still have to think twice about how to properly spell Touareg. Is that right? Yep: At least spell check thinks so. We'd also guess that for more than a decade many people have equally struggled to classify the Volkswagen Touareg itself. It has the features, interior ambience, driving experience and price tag of a luxury midsize SUV, yet it has the same Volkswagen badge as humble Golfs, Jettas and Beetles.

The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg exhibits excellent on-road manners and is surprisingly capable off-road.

p>Not much has changed for the 2016 Volkswagen Touareg. It is clearly a step up from midsize crossovers like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, offering a degree of refinement and capability that they cannot match, especially in regard to its cabin quality and stout towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. It's also a clear step up from those humble family members, with higher-end cabin materials and a quieter, more refined driving experience. Not all Volkswagens are created equal.

Of course, the Edmunds "B"-rated 2016 Volkswagen Touareg does have a much higher price point, bringing it more in line with (though still below) midsize luxury SUVs like the Lexus RX and even the Porsche Cayenne. But its luxurious cabin and sophisticated driving experience prove that it's certainly not out of its league. If you want three rows of seating, however, the Touareg can't help you, so models like the Acura MDX or BMW X5 may be more appealing. Finally, if it's off-road capability you're after, you might consider a well-equipped version of the midsize Jeep Grand Cherokee. It, too, has a premium cabin, strong towing capacity, a refined driving experience and an available diesel engine. It's also easier to spell.

trim levels & features

The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg is a midsize, five-passenger SUV available in Sport, Lux and Executive trim levels. The names "VR6" and "TDI" refer to the engine.

The base Sport comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, foglights, cornering lights, LED running lights, LED taillights, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, "V-Tex" premium vinyl upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, and an eight-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, a CD player and a media player interface.

The Technology Driver Assistance package (optional VR6, standard TDI) adds a trailer hitch, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system, adaptive cruise control, a frontal collision warning system and autonomous emergency braking, a lane-departure warning system, keyless ignition and entry, hands-free power liftgate, a heated steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen and a navigation system.

The Lux trim includes the Technology Driver Assistance package and adds 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, power-folding and driver-side-auto-dimming mirrors, ventilated front seats with additional adjustments and driver memory functions, leather upholstery and a power-folding rear seat.

The top-down camera system included on the Executive trim is invaluable for precision parking.

The Executive trim adds 20-inch wheels, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated rear seats, manual rear side sunshades, an overhead-view parking camera and a 10-speaker Dynaudio sound system.

The only factory option is 21-inch wheels on the Lux and Executive.

performance & mpg

The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg VR6 models come with a 3.6-liter V6 engine good for 280 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and "4Motion" all-wheel drive are standard. In Edmunds testing, a Touareg VR6 accelerated to 60 mph in an unremarkable 7.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway).

The Touareg TDI has a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel-fueled V6 that produces 240 hp and a stout 406 lb-ft of torque. It, too, has an eight-speed automatic and 4Motion standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the TDI engine brought the Touareg from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds -- quite rapid for the segment, especially for one with a diesel engine. Fuel economy is excellent at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway).

Regardless of powertrain, the Touareg can tow 7,716 pounds when properly equipped, which is a considerable amount for a midsize crossover.

safety

Every 2016 Volkswagen Touareg comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and post-collision automatic braking to ensure it remains in place following a crash. The Technology Driver Assistance package standard on all but the base VR6 Sport adds a rearview camera, a blind-spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system, a frontal collision warning system and automatic emergency braking. Volkswagen's Car-Net emergency communications system is not available on the Touareg.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Touareg Hybrid stopped from 60 mph in a solid 121 feet, while a TDI, at 123 feet, nearly matched that effort. A Touareg VR6 was the best of the bunch at just 114 feet, an excellent showing.

driving

There's a sense of substance and purpose in the way the 2016 Volkswagen Touareg goes down the road, but it's not so large that it ever feels unwieldy. In fact, thanks to its exceptionally responsive steering, the Touareg can be genuinely fun to drive, and it offers more road feel than some others in its class. It also excels on the highway, where low noise levels and exemplary stability at speed give it a cool, confident demeanor that's instantly likable.

Thanks to a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, the Touareg remains composed on loose off-road surfaces despite its lack of low-range gearing. With a respectable amount of ground clearance and a compliant suspension, it powers over washboard roads, and through light snow and light-duty trails without breaking a sweat.

The Touareg's regular V6 engine is smooth and powerful, and the eight-speed automatic transmission provides almost imperceptible upshifts along with responsive downshifts on demand. But the torque-rich TDI V6 is the one to get if you want both performance and fuel efficiency, not to mention superior driving range. From inside the quiet cabin, most people would never know there's a diesel engine powering the SUV, and it's just as quick as a typical gasoline engine.

interior

The Touareg's interior lacks the glitz and glamour of traditional luxury-brand SUVs, but there's a strong vibe of quality and craftsmanship nonetheless that is even higher than the lofty Volkswagen norm. The materials are rich-feeling and pleasing to the eye, especially the chrome and wood accents. The knobs and buttons move with robust precision, and white LED ambient lighting bathes the cabin. Its handsome and highly legible gauge cluster is supplemented with a crisp graphic display.

The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg's cabin is pleasing, but not as jaw-dropping as similarly priced luxury SUVs.

Although the Touareg doesn't have a fancy infotainment system with a fancy name (nor the latest touchscreen interfaces found in other VWs), it does give you a standard touchscreen interface with a large screen and sharp graphics. Even better, it's easy to use. The Executive model's punchy Dynaudio sound system is one of our favorites; it's a shame you can't get it on lower trim levels. Unfortunately, all Touaregs have Volkswagen's older proprietary media player interface plug, which isn't nearly as versatile as a regular USB port.

The Touareg is strictly a two-row, five-passenger SUV, but its rear seat is roomy, offering reclining seatbacks and 6.3 inches of fore/aft seat travel. Rear-seat legroom is competitive for a midsize SUV, while the seat bottom is high enough to give rear passengers both solid thigh support and a nice view out.

Cargo capacity measures 32.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 64 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks stowed. Both are about average for a midsize SUV on paper, but the relatively square space is often more useful than competitors with more slanted roof lines.

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.