What's the used Volkswagen Touareg 4x4 like?
If you weren’t already aware, the Volkswagen Touareg, now in its third generation, is named after the Tuareg people of the Sahara desert. And while this used luxury SUV might not be capable of taking you and your own tribe across the desert, it will have absolutely no trouble whizzing them up and down the motorway, or tackling a food-gathering mission in your local supermarket car park.
So far, there have been only three engines offered in the Touareg, two diesels and one petrol, all of them turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder units. The 228bhp and 282bhp diesels are a touch gruffer at idle than the equivalent engines in the Audi Q7, but they're smooth on the move and have plenty of power; in fact, the more potent version is more than a match for many a hot hatch. The 335bhp 3.0 petrol that arrived in late 2019 is far quieter and even faster, but that comes at the price of higher fuel bills, which is where the 456bhp plug-in hybrid found in the Touareg R comes in, with the promise of 28 miles of electric-only driving to reduce consumption.
Entry-level SE trim will suit most buyers, with 19in alloy wheels, leather trim, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, parking sensors front and rear, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and a 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system. SEL has adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, while R-Line models have bigger 20in wheels and sports suspension, a powered tailgate, four-zone climate control, and a rear-view camera. Tech editions of SEL and R-Line get you the upgraded 15in infotainment system and 12in digital information display.
Black Edition adds 21in wheels, a panoramic glass roof, adaptive headlights, and a 360deg camera system. The Touareg R operates as the highest rung model with 22in wheels and model-specific exterior and interior styling.
All Touaregs have four-wheel drive, so traction from a standing start is never a problem. Grip levels are high and agility is impressive, particularly when the car is equipped with the more advanced air suspension and four-wheel steering setup. This turns the rear wheels slightly to help reduce the turning circle at lower speeds, which helps when parking. R-Line and R-Line Tech models are fitted with sports suspension that’s too firm, thumping over potholes in an undignified manner and jostling you from side to side on country roads that the Q7 would simply breeze down.
Wind noise is well suppressed at motorway speeds, but road noise is a touch louder than in rivals when the Touareg is fitted with bigger wheels. All the engines come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts without fuss but can be a little hesitant at low speeds. On the plus side, every Touareg can tow 3500kg, even the plug-in hybrid.
Things look quite flash inside, particularly when the car is equipped with the larger 15in touchscreen infotainment system and 12in digital information display. However, the fit and finish aren’t what you’d expect of a car the cost around £50,000 when new because there are inconsistent panel gaps in places and hard plastics used lower down; you won’t find either in the equivalent Audi. There is plenty of padding for your elbows, mind, and there's lots of space for the driver and front passenger.
Rear passengers are also treated to lots of head, shoulder, and knee room, plus enough space for feet under the front seats. You can also slide and recline the rear bench for greater comfort or fold them down in a flexible 40/20/40 split. The boot is big and the loading lip is shallow, but there are more practical luxury SUVs out there because the Touareg doesn't have seven seats.
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