Test Drive: 2010 Volkswagen Touareg review
Price the big drawback to Touareg
Volkswagen Touareg is an elegant, comfortable, nimble handler
Interior of a 2011 Touareg with air suspension control. Instruments and controls are among best in its class, and the upholstery and trim have a genuinely premium look and feel. It should, because the Touareg starts at more than $40,000,
Though Touareg never threatened to knock the Ford Explorer and other more-mainstream products off the sales perch, it remains a solid, well-conceived SUV that genuinely takes its designation seriously. There's sport and utility, in equal measure.
As a five-passenger vehicle, a lot of customers who need a third-row seat pass the Touareg by, but for the rest of us there's an adequate 31 cubic feet of cargo space, which turns into 71 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Inside, the Touareg is roomy up front; reasonably spacious for two passengers in back. Instruments and controls are among best in its class, and the upholstery and trim have a genuinely premium look and feel.
It should, because the Touareg is not cheap. Starting at more than $40,000, our test model topped $53,010, without all the available options. One option it did have that raised the price about $3,500: a 3-liter, 225-horsepower turbodiesel V-6.
Diesels typically cost more to build and almost always get better mileage than gasoline engines, but with that extra cost, plus the fact that the fuel seems to run more per gallon than regular gasoline, a lot of Touareg customers might stick with the standard 3.6-liter, 280-hp gas V-6.
That said, the diesel does get better mileage: The EPA rates it at 17 mpg city/25 highway, while the gasoline engine is rated at 14/19. We averaged nearly 23 mpg in the diesel Touareg, which seems pretty good for a vehicle that weighs 5,304 pounds.
Really, though, the Touareg is startlingly light on its feet. Handling is typically German, which means precise and controlled, but the ride is smooth, even on uneven surfaces.
Where the Touareg has always surprised is off-road. Though it's not a dedicated rock crawler, the Touareg can take on all but the worst terrain. It has low-range gearing for extra power, and the torque supplied by the diesel engine makes it pull like a freight train. It's limited by the tires, though, which are understandably designed more for a quiet highway ride than mud-bogging. The Touareg also can tow more than 7,700 pounds, a lot for a vehicle this size.
While the base Touareg has a lot of standard equipment, our tester added a $2,600 luxury package, a $5,200 technology package and a $500 trailer hitch that, with shipping, raised the price to $53,010. A lot of those features I could happily do without, especially with so much equipment standard, including a power sunroof, Sirius satellite radio and walnut interior trim. All the safety equipment you'd suspect is standard too.
Volkswagen is updating the Touareg for 2011, so it could be a good time to make a deal on a 2010 at a hungry VW dealer. A year-end discount could fix the only real problem I've ever had with the Touareg — the window sticker.