A person looking for the ultimate in luxury and sophistication in an SUV with passable fuel economy and superb performance.
Comparable models in this class:
BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX, Lexus LX, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes Benz M Class, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC90 V8
The Touareg gets a fabulous V-10 diesel
Volkswagens Touareg luxury SUV is finally available with a V-10 turbo-diesel, and what an engine it is.
Diesels arent as popular in this country as they are in the rest of the world, especially Europe, but they have been improved so dramatically that they are now better than many of their gasoline counterparts. Diesels used to be noisy, sooty and slow, but the new state-of-the-art diesels are none of the above.
The Touareg TDI is just such an example. The 5.0-liter, 310-horspower diesel is very impressive. It cranks out a monstrous 553 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 rpm. Nudge the throttle and you get instant movement. Flatten the pedal and this Touareg flies. The typical loud diesel clatter is almost completely muted. Start-up is the only time it is even slightly louder than the gasoline engine.
VW uses an aluminum block, two turbochargers and an electronically controlled drive-by-wire system that controls the throttle and the fuel injectors that deliver precise amounts of fuel into each cylinder. Fuel mileage is rated at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway, whereas the 4.2-liter V-8 is rated at 14 mpg city and 18 on the highway.
The six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission has a gear for almost any situation, plus it can be shifted manually, which is a bonus in off-road situations.
The Touaregs all-wheel-drive system works together with hill descent control, hill climb assist, a locking center differential and a vehicle stability program. The transfer case with an extra-low gear means the Touareg has the off-road manners of a mountain goat.
The test cars optional air suspension allows the vehicle to be raised for serious off-road work, plus it automatically lowers the vehicle for better handling and mileage at high speeds.
From a performance and mileage perspective, the diesel is clearly the best choice for the Touareg. The only drawback to the diesel is the ,800 base price compared to ,640 for the V-8. The 3.2-liter V-6 starts at ,900.
The Touareg is an excellent example of how Volkswagen has broadened its product line. This luxury SUV rivals the best on the road, regardless of price. Its standard equipment includes heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, five power outlets, premium stereo with CD player, trip computer, side-curtain airbags and center locking differential. Options include a navigation system, interior upgrades and air suspension that raises the vehicle more than three inches for off-road use and lowers it at highway speeds. The test car had lots of options and a sticker price of ,965.
A couple of gripes about the test car: The electronic throttle would occasionally go limp, as if the engine died momentarily, and then it would catch with a lurch. I believe this is a software issue with the drive-by-wire system as I have experienced it in other vehicles, too. Also, the navigation systems map was not easy to read because it often lacked street names.
Volkswagens upscale interiors are superbly finished. The Touareg is as well turned out as any luxury SUV on the market. The gauges look like an expensive watch, the burl walnut trim is scrumptious and the leather is soft. The Touareg does not have an optional third seat.
Folding down the back seat is not as easy as it should be for an SUV. The bottom cushions have to be tilted forward and the headrests removed before you can have a flat load floor.
The cargo area is very well finished, with plush carpeting and chrome tie-downs. Accessory power outlets by the tailgate are useful.
A double-wishbone suspension provides a very pleasant ride. Continuously adjustable shock absorbers, with sport, comfort and automatic settings, are part of the air suspension package.
The diesel Touareg may be expensive, but it compares favorably with the best SUVs on the market.
Standard Equipment (partial list)
6-speed shiftable automatic transmission
all wheel drive
mechanical center locking differential
hi-lo gear selection
rain sensing wipers
power glass sunroof
emergency braking assist
dual front side-mounted airbags
front and rear head airbags
tire pressure monitoring
Front Fog/Driving Lights
Heated front seats
tilt and telescopic steering wheel
dual zone climate controls - driver and passenger
wood trim on dash
AM/FM in-dash single CD player, CD-controller stereo with 10 speakers
V8 models also include: (partial list)
18 inch wheels and tires
12 way power driver and front passenger seats
Memory seats for 3 deivers
multi-level heating front seats
manual sunshades for rear side windows
power retractable mirrors
Major Available Options
4-Corner Air Suspension
4-Zone Climatronic Air Conditioning
Electronic Parking Assistance
Rear Differential Lock
AM/FM/CD stereo with 11 speakers and 6 disc CD changer