Volkswagen Touareg 4x4 full 9 point review
The flagship Touareg uses a 258bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, which provides all the performance you need. It pulls strongly from low revs and delivers its power over a relatively wide band to ensure confident overtaking at all speeds. The 201bhp 3.0 version is noticeably less muscular but is still brisk enough.
Ride & Handling
The suspension on SE versions gives a good balance of comfort and control; the ride is reasonably cushy, yet the body doesn't lollop about in bends. Escape models have raised suspension for off-road use, while R-line gets lowered suspension and big wheels that make the ride unsettled around town. All Touaregs are comfortable at higher speeds, though, and are decently grippy. The optional air suspension improves comfort, but it's pricey. The steering is light enough to help when parking.
Some tyre noise intrudes over coarse surfaces, but wind noise is always well contained and the engines are hushed at a cruise. Both engines are slightly coarse at high revs, but it's not a big issue. The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly most of the time, but the stop-start system (which cuts the engine when you come to a standstill and starts it again when you release the brake pedal) isn't the most responsive around.
Quality & Reliability
The cabin feels solidly built and most of the materials are classy, although many similarly priced rivals have plusher interiors. The Touareg did not appear in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but VW as a brand scored above-average marks for reliability.
Safety & Security
Every Touareg has stability control, six airbags and an automatic post-collision braking system to help keep you safe. All models also have active front head restraints to minimise whiplash in a rear-end shunt, and a trailer stabilisation system. Security kit includes an alarm, and security experts Thatcham awarded the Touareg five out of five for its resistance to being stolen and four out of five for its resistance to being broken into.
Buying & Owning
The Touareg is cheaper to buy than most big 4x4s, plus you can expect a healthy discount. It's unlikely to hold its value as well as the best premium-badged rivals, however. The engines are competitive for fuel economy and CO2 emissions, so running costs are decent.
Behind The Wheel
The Touareg offers the king-of-the-road driving position that 4x4 buyers love, and there's a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help people of all sizes get comfortable. The ventilation controls are a breeze to use, while Volkswagen's touchscreen stereo and navigation system is one of the simplest we've come across, even if it looks a bit basic compared with the set-ups in some rivals.
Space & Practicality
There's plenty of space for five, but the rear door openings are a little small and Volkswagen doesn't offer a seven-seat version of the Touareg; rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 have seven seats as standard. The boot is large and well shaped, and you can change the balance between cabin and luggage space because the rear seats slide back and forth. Fold down these seats and they don't lie completely flat, however.
We'd go for an entry-level SE version; it comes with leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, satellite-navigation, xenon headlights, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and 19-inch wheels. The rugged Escape model adds locking centre and rear differentials as well as extra underbody protection, while R-line trim swaps these for larger wheels, sportier looks, a panoramic glass sunroof and a powered tailgate.