Tom Crosby: Volkswagen’s 2015 Touareg diesel exudes luxurious feel
The Volkswagen Touareg is one Europe’s most popular mid-size luxury Sport Utility Vehicles and it receives some style changes for 2015 while keeping the panache and power that make it attractive.
Its pedigree is shared with the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q5, with all three using a similar 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine that allows the Touareg to tow 7,700 pounds properly equipped. Without towing, take-off is peppy and acceleration bursts seamless with a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. There are four gasoline, three diesel and one hybrid trim to choose from. We test-drove the turbo-diesel injection V6 Lux, which included a $2,500 much appreciated safety package with lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and front-collision warning with brake intervention for emergency stopping.
Launched in 2002, the Touareg was named after a Sahara desert tribe known for fighting fiercely in all weather conditions, befitting the vehicle’s prowess on and off-road. Off-road control is solid with a self-locking rear differential, hill descent control and modified traction control at low speed. The diesel engine generates excellent mileage and the Touareg meets stiff emission standards to be one of today’s most fuel efficient and cleanest sport utility vehicles. Engine noise is muted with no clickty-clack typical of diesel engines and the only cabin noise comes from tire thrum generated by 19-inch all-season tires on alloy wheels interacting with a double wishbone front and rear independent suspension.
The second generation Touareg was launched in 2011 and changes since then have been relatively minor with this year’s tweaks adding newly designed xenon daylight running headlights and LED tail lights. The prestigious Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Touareg a “good” rating – its top score – in crash tests. Inside the cabin, comfortable leather seats and premium padded materials mesh with chrome and wood accents to exude the expected luxurious ambiance. The 8-inch dashboard screen is easy to reach and use. The navigation system displays sharp graphics and easy to understand commands. A sweeping panoramic bisected sunroof aids interior light brightness. Control buttons and knobs are easily reached and manipulated. Rear seats recline, leg room is ample with more than 6 inches of fore/aft front seat travel and rear seats can be folded easily to create extra cargo space. The Touareg competes with higher-priced luxury SUVs, like the Mercedes GLE class or the Acura MDX. It may not have the name cachet as its competitors but it has the value.
LIKES: Mileage, power, comfort, handling, luxury, price DISLIKES: Tire thrum
BOTTOM LINE: An SUV designed for comfort, two driving environments and safety. Popular in Europe.
FACT FILE — VW TOUAREG TDI LUX AWD
- Base price w/destination fee $57,580 ($60,080 as tested)
- Curb weight 4,974 lbs.
- Wheelbase 113.9 inches
- Length 188.8 inches
- Width 76.4 inches
- Engine specs 3.0-liter, V-6, turbo diesel
- Horsepower 240-hp at 4,000 rpm
- Torque 406 ft.-lbs. at 2,000 rpm
- Transmission 8-speed automatic
- EPA Rating 20 city, 29 highway
- Range 26.4 gallons, diesel fuel
Performance 0-60 in just over 7 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.