Volkswagen Touareg review

Category: Luxury SUV

The Touareg has loads of space but is limited to five seats and far less polished than an Audi Q7

Red VW Touareg front right driving
  • Red VW Touareg front right driving
  • Red VW Touareg rear cornering
  • VW Touareg interior dashboard
  • VW Touareg boot open
  • VW Touareg interior driver display
  • Red VW Touareg front cornering
  • Red VW Touareg rear right driving
  • Red VW Touareg front driving
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  • VW Touareg headlights detail
  • VW Touareg wheel detail
  • VW Touareg interior front seats
  • VW Touareg interior infotainment
  • VW Touareg interior detail
  • Red VW Touareg front right driving
  • Red VW Touareg rear cornering
  • VW Touareg interior dashboard
  • VW Touareg boot open
  • VW Touareg interior driver display
  • Red VW Touareg front cornering
  • Red VW Touareg rear right driving
  • Red VW Touareg front driving
  • Red VW Touareg front left static
  • VW Touareg rear right static
  • VW Touareg right static
  • VW Touareg headlights detail
  • VW Touareg wheel detail
  • VW Touareg interior front seats
  • VW Touareg interior infotainment
  • VW Touareg interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Volkswagen Touareg offers buyers of luxury SUVs a less ostentatious alternative to the premium-badged rivals.

Indeed, the Touareg shares lots of parts with the Bentley Bentayga so it promises the best the VW Group has to offer but without the big Bentley price tag.

The latest version should be the most compelling example of that to date too, because Volkswagen has updated its flagship SUV's tech, adding features never before seen on a VW. You can even park it using your smartphone.

This updated third-generation Touareg also gets upgraded suspension and new engine options. For example, you can now have the model as a plug-in hybrid without upgrading to the sports SUV version (the Touareg R).

So, is the VW Touareg good enough to do well against the best luxury SUVs – including the BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery and Porsche Cayenne? Read on to find out...

Overview

The VW Touareg is practical for five people, has plenty of luggage space and rides well with air suspension equipped, but it lacks the flexibility of seven seats and its interior quality isn’t quite as good as its rivals. If you do decide the Touareg is for you, we recommend the entry-level 3.0 diesel engine.

  • Strong engines
  • Spacious inside for up to five people
  • Excellent towing capabilities
  • Depreciates quicker than a BMW X5
  • Firm ride without air suspension
  • No seven-seat option
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The entry-level engine for the VW Touareg range is the 3.0 TDI V6 and we reckon it’s the one to go for. With 228bhp, it gives you all the grunt you could ever need, officially sprinting from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, and can tow up to 3,500kg.

If you want more power, the 282bhp 3.0 TDI 286 diesel doesn’t feel much slower than the fastest Touareg model, a sports SUV called the R (you can read about that in our VW Touareg R review).

Both diesel engines emit a slight rumble when idling and you'll feel mild vibrations through the steering wheel that remind you which colour pump they drink from. Once you're on the move, they quieten down nicely, as they do in the Audi Q7 (another VW Group car that shares parts with the Touareg and Bentley Bentayga).

What if you want a petrol rather than diesel engine? Well, in that case, you have two choices: the 335bhp 3.0 TSI 340 V6 or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version called the eHybrid.

The non-PHEV petrol has the smoothest engine in the Touareg range, and stays creamy and quiet all the way from idle to maximum revs. It’s also surprisingly quick, with a 0-62mph time of just 6.1 seconds (only the BMW X5 40i petrol feels significantly stronger among its petrol equivalents).

The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox changes smoothly, but can be hesitant when you're trying to accelerate briskly away from a standstill. It can also be a bit slow to kick down when you need a sudden burst of acceleration, even in the sharper Sport mode. That's not great when you're overtaking.

Volkswagen Touareg image
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The eHybrid PHEV, meanwhile, combines a V6 petrol engine and an electric motor for a total output of 376bhp. That makes it just as quick as you might expect, sprinting from 0-62mph in 5.9seconds, and has enough instant oomph to solve the hesitation issues you get from the standard gearbox. Thanks to its battery, it can also officially travel up to 31 miles on electricity alone.

Non-PHEV Touaregs come with air suspension, which is great for comfort, soaking up lumps and bumps with ease, and also allows you to increase the ride height for off-road driving. It's surprisingly impressive off-road, tackling far harder obstacles that you’d expect from something with comfy seats and a heated steering wheel.

Instead of air suspension, the PHEV version – the eHybrid – gets firmer traditional springs that make the ride a bit firmer. It doesn’t thud over road imperfections, but you’ll find your head is tossed from side to side more as you drive along. We’d consider adding the air suspension as an option – even then, though, the Touareg doesn’t ride as well as the BMW X5 xDrive50e PHEV.

For such a big machine, the Touareg steers neatly, with a better sense of connection between you and the front wheels than you get in a Volvo XC90. Combined with the masses of traction from the standard four-wheel drive, the Touareg feels more nimble than the XC90, especially with the Black Edition’s optional four-wheel steering. 

You’re still very conscious of its weight during fast changes of direction though. The BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan handle better.

Driving overview 

Strengths Strong engines; impressive towing capability; good body control

Weaknesses Hesitant gearbox; firm ride without air suspension

Red VW Touareg rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Finding a comfortable driving position in the VW Touareg is pretty easy, with the cheapest Black Edition trim getting electrically adjustable front seats, adjustable lumbar support and a handy memory function. Strangely, mid-spec Elegance trim gets manually-adjustable seats and misses out on the Black Edition’s four-way adjustable lumbar support. 

You sit high up in the Touareg, and when combined with the large windows, that means you have a great view out in all directions. Meanwhile, parking is made easy by standard-fit front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, and the option of Parking Assist Pro, which allows the car to park itself whether you’re sitting inside it or not (using a smartphone app).

The third-generation Touareg is the first Volkswagen to get the brand’s new Innovision Cockpit, which combines a 15in touchscreen infotainment system with a 12in digital instrument panel. The digital instrument panel is one of the best in class, proving clear and easy to read and very customisable. 

Likewise, the large infotainment screen is really crisp and has large icons to make hitting them on the move easy. Annoyingly, though, the physical knobs and dials that are used to control the climate control have been replaced by permanent virtual controls on the screen. The large icons make adjustments easier than in the Volvo XC90, but we’d still rather have physical controls.

VW infotainment systems have always been a bit of a sore spot, with a lot of systems proving buggy and unresponsive, but the Touareg is definitely an improvement. For the most part, it responds to your prods really quickly and rarely pauses as you switch between each bit of the system.

Every Touareg comes with DAB radio, built-in HD sat-nav plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.

Interior quality is quite impressive, as you’d expect from a luxury SUV, with all surfaces covered in leathers and glossy plastics, and any scratchy plastics hidden low down. However, the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 are even better.

Interior overview 

Strengths Great all-round visibility; very customisable driver display; sound driving position

Weaknesses Elegance doesn’t have standard adjustable lumbar support

VW Touareg interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The VW Touareg is a five-seater only, so it can't carry as many people as seven-seaters including the Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90.

It’s very spacious, though. Front space is verging on palatial and even the tallest and broadest driver and passenger pairing won’t have any complaints.

In terms of places to store oddments, the Touareg has two big cupholders and storage under the front armrest, as well as a big cubby in front of the gear selector that can include wireless phone-charging.

Rear space is very impressive too. There's enough rear leg room for six-foot-plus adults and head room is equally generous, even with the standard-fit panoramic roof. There's a wide hump in the floor in front of the middle passenger, but it's not as big as in some luxury SUVs.

The Touareg’s rear bench can be reclined to three angles, ranging from upright (to prioritise boot space) to seriously chilled – useful if your rear-seat passengers fancy a snooze. You can slide the rear bench backwards and forwards, depending on how much cargo you’re carrying and how long your rear passengers’ legs are.

The vast boot is warehouse-like and can swallow up to 10 carry-on suitcases, the same number as an Audi Q7 and two more than the Mercedes GLE. The load area is a square shape with virtually no loading lip, and on models with air suspension (most Touaregs), there’s a function that lowers the back of the car to aid access.

If you fold down the 40/20/40 split rear seats, you’ll have 1,800 litres of storage capacity. To put that in context, think of a small van.

Practicality overview 

Strengths Huge boot; loads of front and rear space; versatile rear seats

Weaknesses No seven-seat version

VW Touareg boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

If you buy the VW Touareg outright as a cash purchase, it’ll cost you more than the Volvo XC90 and pretty much the same as the equivalent Audi Q7 or BMW X5. It's worth checking the latest prices using our VW Touareg deals page

The Touareg is predicted to depreciate faster than the X5 but at about the same rate as its other rivals. That can have an effect on monthly PCP finance payments and should keep the amount you pay competitive. 

Better still, you get plenty of equipment regardless of which Touareg trim you go for. The cheapest Black Edition comes with 21in alloy wheels, heated windscreen washer jets, wireless phone-charging, four-zone climate control, heated front seats, an electric tailgate and lots of other kit. 

If you want the eHybrid PHEV engine, you’ll have to go for Elegance trim. It costs slightly more and gets similar levels of equipment – although, it does get smaller 20in alloy wheels and loses out on the Black Edition’s electric seats. Top-spec R trim ticks every box but is not exactly cheap, costing only a little less than the Porsche Cayenne S, so it’s harder to recommend. 

Official CO2 emissions from the non-PHEV versions are higher than some rivals', but almost all of its rivals are in the same top 37% benefit-in-kind (BIK) company car tax bracket anyway. The PHEV is in the 15% tax bracket, while the BMW X5 PHEV is in the lower 8% bracket one. 

In terms of fuel economy, both the diesel versions will manage around 34.5mpg officially, while the petrol promises a less impressive 25.7mpg. Those figures pretty much rival the equivalent versions of the Audi Q7.

On paper, the Touareg eHybrid PHEV will manage up to 126mpg, but don’t expect to get near that figure unless you keep the battery charged up at all times. Speaking of which, the PHEV has a maximum charging speed of just 7.2kW. It’ll charge from 0-100% in around two and a half hours from a home wall box charger.

The standard Touareg received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating back in 2018. There were issues over chest injuries for adults in the front, which gave it a lower adult occupancy score than many of its rivals, especially the Volvo XC90.

Still, it is a very safe SUV and comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), driver attention monitoring, traffic-sign recognition and lane-keeping assistance to help you stay out of trouble in the first place. 

The Touareg wasn’t included in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but VW as a brand was. It came in 22nd place out of the 32 included manufacturers, above Audi and Land Rover but below Lexus (in first place), Volvo, BMW and Porsche. 

For some peace of mind, VW offers a three-year/60,000-mile standard warranty which is pretty standard for the class. 

Costs overview 

Strengths Lots of standard kit; competitive cash price; plenty of standard safety kit

Weaknesses Quicker depreciation than rivals; so-so warranty; sits in a higher BIK band than PHEV rivals

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VW Touareg interior driver display

FAQs

  • If you’re after a big and comfortable five-seat luxury SUV, the Touareg is a good option – our expert road testers scored it three stars out of five. It has a strong selection of engines and lots of standard kit, but can’t quite compete with the Audi Q7 or BMW X5 when it comes to handling and ride comfort.

  • The Touareg is the biggest Volkswagen SUV you can get, so it's bigger than the VW Tiguan. Both have five seats, but the Touareg gives passengers loads more space and has a bigger boot.

  • While the Touareg and the Audi Q7 share the same parent company and many parts, they are both quite different – each has its own styling, engines and interior.

At a glance
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Target Price from £64,297
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From £47,685
RRP price range £68,065 - £80,710
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)diesel, petrol parallel phev, petrol
MPG range across all versions 122.8 - 35.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,520 / £5,190
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,039 / £10,380
Available colours