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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Touareg is a comfy, big 4x4 that's equally at home on- and off-road

Against It's heavy on fuel and some models in the range are stupidly expensive

Verdict VW's first ever 4x4 is a fine effort

Go for… 3.2 V6

Avoid… V10 TDi

Volkswagen Touareg 4x4
  • 1. There was a recall because the parking brake could foul the wiring loom
  • 2. Check to see that recall work on the rear seat belts was done
  • 3. Rear seats will take three tall adults in comfort
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Volkswagen Touareg 4x4 full review with expert trade views

On the road, the Touareg drives very well, albeit with the emphasis on comfort and smoothness, whereas the Porsche Cayenne (the Touareg's sister car) – or BMW X5, for that matter - is more sporty.

It can’t quite match the superb blend of ride and handling in a Land Rover Discovery, but it’s not far off, which is praise indeed. It’s also good off-road, and much better than cars such as the X5 and Volvo XC90.

The Touareg’s sheer size also makes it a decent family car, although it’s strictly a five-seater, without the third row of seats you get in a Discovery or XC90. The boot is huge and, even though the rear isn’t as big as in some rivals, it’s large enough to take three six-foot adults in comfort.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Gaining popularity with used buyers. Few to choose from keeping values high. V10 sought after

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Given this is a big 4x4, you might expect us to recommend the diesel engine. However, in the Touareg, the 3.2 V6 petrol models are not only cheaper to buy than the 2.5 TDi models as used cars, they’re also more refined.

There's also the option of a V10 TDi, but it’s extremely expensive, and not worth it. Likewise, a 3.0-litre TDi engine joined the range in October 2004, but it’s relatively rare and still quite expensive.

Other than the 3.2 V6, the only other petrol engine on the used market is a 4.2-litre V8. It’s not much more costly to fuel or insure than the V6, but it’s much more costly to buy, so is also best avoided.

In terms of trim, there’s little choice, and the basic rule is the bigger the engine the more kit you get. Although, that said, there's hardly a shortage of toys on any model.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Shares chassis with Cayenne. Later model is more attractive, 2.5 TDI economical

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

In this market, the VW badge doesn’t have the same prestige as, say, BMW or Volvo, and that’s good news, making the Touareg a little cheaper to buy than an XC90 or X5. However, with limited supply, prices are far from cheap, and the Discovery is cheaper still.

This is a big car, though, and will cost a lot to run. Even the most fuel-efficient engine, the 2.5 TDi, returns just 28.8 mpg, and you’ll be lucky to see more than 20mpg out of either petrol engine in everyday driving. It’s true that these figures are not bad by the standards of the class, but both petrol and diesel Touraegs are worse than the equivalent XC90.

On the other hand, insurance costs are par for the course, and routine maintenance on the VW will be less than on its rivals from BMW, Volvo and Land Rover.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Gaining popularity with used buyers. Few to choose from keeping values high. V10 sought after

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Two recalls have affected the Touareg, both covering cars built in 2003. The first dealt with three areas: the parking brake, which could foul the wiring loom; faulty welding on the left seat console; and an extra earth connection might be necessary in the fuel tank of some petrol models. In the second, there was a potential problem with the rear seat belts.

Apart from these, though, there’s nothing much to worry buyers. That’s partly because the Touareg remains a relatively rare car, so it’s difficult to get a clear picture of how solid it is.

Online reports from owners say there have been some problems, but most have been dealt with under warranty. Overall, we expect the Touraeg to match the above-average results by other VWs in JD Power surveys.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Shares chassis with Cayenne. Later model is more attractive, 2.5 TDI economical

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing
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