Review: Volkswagen Touareg

Stunning and spacious luxury SUV

07 Jan 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Smart styling

  • Great for off-road use

  • Reliable

Cons

  • Expensive to buy

  • Rivals are more spacious

  • High CO2 emissions

Our expert rating

The Touareg is a luxury Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), made by the German motor manufacturer, Volkswagen. The Touareg made its debut in 2002 and, because it comes with four wheel drive, it can handle off-road trips when the need arises.

Performance

You get the most out of VW Touareg when it’s powered by diesel. The 3.0 litre V6 from 2014 is by far the cream of the crop due to muscular performance and efficient running costs.

Overtaking is a breeze with this engine and commuting long distances is easy due to the car’s hassle-free automatic gearbox and ‘gentle giant’ character. The Touareg in this form is amazingly economical, averaging around 42mpg, and road tax is kept relatively low for big 4x4 SUV. This is thanks to CO2 emissions of just 174g/km.

There is an even higher powered diesel – the 4.2 V8 – but this is not as efficient, returning just 31mpg. Unsurprisingly, this Volkswagen is rapid, though, and will make light work of any long journey.

When it comes to petrol power, the Touareg is thirsty, but the petrol-electric hybrid version is a good compromise, although 34mpg is the most it will do, making the 3.0 diesel still stand out as the top dog for mile-munching.

VW Touareg off-road

Ride and handling

Other than its high driving position, which allows for a brilliant view of the road ahead, the Touareg feels very car-like. The VW has that distinctive SUV, strong-featured, attention-grabbing appearance, and its graceful steering means movements at low speeds are laid-back.

Body roll is kept in check in corners and, on the straights, the VW rides like a premium saloon car. It also suppresses road and wind noise well, making it a very relaxed and quiet vehicle to do hundreds of motorways miles in, in peace.

On blemished road surfaces, the SUV almost gobbles up potholes because there is virtually no indication that the car has hit one – it’s that refined. Take the car off-road altogether and it demonstrates huge capability over many forms of terrain, from mud to sand and even some rocky surfaces.

This means the Touareg’s 4x4 system will also grip to normal road surfaces very well in, for example, snowy weather. Safety is excellent too, with Euro NCAP bestowing a top five-star safety rating. Standard safety kit includes multi airbags as standard and Isofix mountings for child seats.

Volkswagen Touareg

Interior space

The Touareg is one large machine, so it’s a perfect tool for the family. There is loads of space in the front for adults and two adults, or three at a push, can fit in the back.

Legroom is very good, as is headroom, and the rear seats can even be slid forward or backwards to increase or decrease legroom.

In the boot, there is enough space to consume an average family of four or five’s luggage. The 580 litre load area can be expanded even further with the rear seats collapsed, making it easy to load in, say, a bicycle or transport a load of wood back home from the DIY store.

Volkswagen Touareg interior

The vast 1,642 litres is made even easier to fill up, thanks to the low boot aperture. The only down-side is that the VW doesn’t come with seven seats – and there is not even an option to have them fitted after-market.

The kit in the Touareg is very generous, though, from the get-go, so the entry level SE trim is all you need. Leather seats are even included, making for easy wiping down after the kids and their mucky wellies have been dragged all over them.

Volkswagen Touareg boot

What to know before you buy

Volkswagen is a maker of generally strong, reliable vehicles, and that is good news if you are purchasing this car secondhand.

Many of the Touareg’s mechanicals are tried and tested now, but two recalls on early models were for the parking brake, and there was a possible issue with the rear seat belts.

This was way back in 2003 though, so there are no worries about later used models. There aren’t as many Touaregs on the UK’s roads as you might think, either, so this makes them quite rare on used car dealer’s forecourts.

If you do hunt one down, just check it over for any off-roading damage.

Volkswagen Touareg off road

Alternative cars

The VW is expensive to buy as a used car – let alone a new one, but then most luxury SUV 4x4s are. The main rivals for the Touareg are the Audi Q7 and Toyota Land Cruiser. The

Audi has the edge with the badge prestige, but the boot is smaller. That said, it comes with seven seats as standard, which will win larger families over. It isn’t designed for off-roading though.

The Toyota is perhaps the better workhorse if a country lifestyle vehicle is needed, because it is an absolute Trojan in the rough. However, it lacks kudos – and it has a much smaller boot than the VW or the Audi.

VW Touareg and Audi Q7 alternative

Overall verdict

The Volkswagen Touareg is stunning to drive and sit in. It’s a great family machine for on or off-road use, and it isn’t that expensive to run in diesel guise, despite its prolific power. It’s a strict five seater at the most. However, bigger families will be disappointed at the lack of a third tier of seats.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall