Volkswagen's SUV is all pluses - except for price
Steven Cole Smith • MCT News Service • August 8, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal
German carmaker Volks-wagen AG joined the sport utility vehicle market a little late, waiting until the 2004 model year to jump in with the Touareg, named after a nomadic desert tribe in the Saharas.
It remains a solid, well-conceived SUV that genuinely takes its designation seriously. There's sport, and there's utility, in equal measure.
As a five-passenger vehicle, a lot of customers who need a third-row seat pass by the Touareg, 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 down.
Inside, the Touareg is roomy up front, reasonably spacious for two rear-seat passengers. Instruments and controls are among best in class, and the upholstery and trim has a premium look and feel.
It should because the Touareg isn't, and has never been, cheap. Starting at more than $40,000, our test model topped $53,010, and it didn't have all the available options. One option it did have that raised the price about $3,500: The 3.0-liter, 225-horsepower turbocharged diesel engine instead of the standard 3.6-liter, 280-horsepower gas engine.
The EPA rates the diesel engine's gas mileage at 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, while the gasoline engine is rated at 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway.
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. It can take on all but the worst terrain.
While the base-model Touareg has a lot of standard equipment, including a power sunroof, Sirius satellite radio, walnut interior trim and safety equipment.
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.