The Volkswagen Touareg is a luxury sport-utility with a rare blend of highway composure, refinement, and impressive off-highway capability. Touareg offers a choice of a V6 gas engine or V6 diesel.
Notable options include a touch-screen navigation system that comes with a multi-function color display, a choice of two upgraded stereos, and active Bi-Xenon headlights. Walnut interior trim and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on 2010 Touareg models. The V8-powered version is no longer available.
The Touareg offers five-passenger seating. Like the Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz ML, the Touareg eschews a third row of seats for five-passenger space in a compact package.
The V6 diesel TDI engine is aimed more at economy than performance, and is emissions-certified in all 50 states; in cities where the air is really bad the TDI's exhaust will be less toxic than the air going in. All Touareg models use a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive.
Protected by a rigid structure and full suite of airbags and electronic safety systems, the Touareg cabin is inviting, involving, and efficient. There are more thoughtful touches than you'll notice at first glance, yet the learning curve is quick, the controls not daunting, and comfort remains high even after hours on the road, or off it.
Touareg is a genuinely capable four-wheel-drive vehicle. It takes to trails like you wouldn't believe. Its combination of clearance angles, gearing, fording depth and suspension travel compares to that of the recognized benchmark vehicles in the class, none of which offer a 25-mpg diesel.
Back on the highway the Touareg has a Teutonic feel, with smoothness imparted by precision and not softness. It cruises effortlessly regardless of road condition, and belies its heft on winding roads. A sports car it isn't, but you could make a dynamic argument for an inclement weather Grand Touring vehicle.
If you like the Volkswagen Touareg but need a third row of seats at the expanse of some off-road capability, check out the Audi Q7; it uses a stretched version of the same basic structure.
Touareg was launched as a 2003 model and revised for 2008. For 2010, there are no major changes. An all-new Touareg will be launched as a 2011 model.