Volkswagen Touareg SUV
Price £43,415 - £48,215
- Smart looks
- Luxurious cabin
- Decent fuel economy for a big 4x4
- Expensive to buy
- No seven-seat option
- Looks very similar to its predecessor
At a glance
"The Volkswagen Touareg is a decent road car, but underneath the luxurious interior lurks the mechanicals of a serious off-road machine."
The Volkswagen Touareg is based on the Porsche Cayenne, but is significantly cheaper to buy and does without the more powerful engines that are available with the Porsche. It also competes with the Land Rover Discovery 4 and the BMW X5.
Off-road toughness and on-road ability are two of the VW's key strengths. All models have four-wheel drive and there's a choice of two 3.0-litre diesel engines, producing 201bhp and 258bhp, both of which can return 42.8mpg. The larger V8 TDI diesel and Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid model were both dropped from the UK line-up in 2014.
The Touareg doesn’t come with the option of seven seats, but it does have a spacious and well built cabin, even if it doesn't feel quite as upmarket as the Porsche Cayenne.
Trim levels include SE, R-Line and Escape. Every Touareg has 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a DAB digital radio and parking sensors.
If you plan to use your Touareg off-road, we'd recommend the Escape model, as it comes with clever electronics and protection for the underside of the car that should make it even more capable in rough conditions.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Clever BlueMotion technology ensures the Volkswagen Touareg isn't too expensive to run
Since VW dropped the hybrid and larger V8 diesel engines from the Volkswagen Touareg line-up, its fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures are pretty much identical no matter which model you go for.
The basic 201bhp 3.0-litre TDI diesel will return 42.8mpg and emit 173g/km of CO2 for road tax of £205 a year. The more powerful 258bhp 3.0-litre TDI offers a decent improvement in performance, but no change in fuel economy. Emissions are just 1g/km more, so the more powerful engine falls into the same tax bracket.
It's worth noting that, when fitted to the Touareg Escape, the more powerful engine returns 40.9mpg and emits 180g/km of CO2, resulting in a £20 hike in annual road tax.
As a big four-wheel-drive car, the Volkswagen Touareg is never going to be cheap to mantain, but Volkswagen does offer fixed-price service plans, as well as the option to pay for your car’s upkeep with regular monthly payments.
Engines, drive & performance
Based on the Porsche Cayenne, the Volkswagen Touareg is good to drive, with powerful diesel engines
Comfort was a high priority when Volkswagen designed the Touareg, so if you want an SUV that offers driving thrills, the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne are both better options. The Volkswagen is stable enough in corners, though, and feels much smaller to drive than it actually is. A lot of that is down to the car’s nicely shaped steering wheel and raised driving position, which gives you excellent visibility.
If you want a quick Touareg, then the top-of-the-range diesel model proves surprisingly fast, with 0-62mph taking just 7.6 seconds. The Hybrid and V8 diesel models were dropped in 2014, so if you want a truly fast or sporty SUV, then you'll need to consider the BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne. However, both the 3.0-litre diesel engines suit the Touareg perfectly, and offer more than enough power for everyday driving.
Interior & comfort
A comfortable and well built interior allows the VW Touareg to compete with upmarket rivals
As a tall car, the Volkswagen Touareg gives its driver a clear view of the road and you feel insulated from your surroundings thanks to a quiet interior and comfortable seats. As you'd expect from an expensive model like this, the Touareg gets a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that can be adjusted for both rake and reach.
Sitting in the back might not be so enjoyable if you end up in the middle seat. Unlike in the Land Rover Discovery, it’s raised up, plus there’s not a lot of space for your feet thanks to the Touareg's bulky transmission tunnel.
Practicality & boot space
The back seats in the Volkswagen Touareg are easy to fold for maximum carrying capacity
Space inside the Volkswagen Touareg is generally pretty good, with plenty of room up front for tall occupants. The interior also boasts lots of useful storage areas including a large glovebox and a space in the centre of the dashboard, room under the front centre armrest and spacious door bins.
The back seat has some useful features, such as the ability to slide forwards and backwards, as well as recline. The back seats drop down easily when you press a button in the boot, increasing boot space from 490 to 1,642 litres. Although the seats don’t fold completely flat into the boot floor, there’s no high lip, so even heavy items shouldn’t be too difficult to get in.
Reliability & safety
The Volkswagen Touareg feels solidly built, but there are a few question marks over VW reliability
Sadly, the Volkswagen Touareg didn’t feature in our 2014 Driver Power survey, but Volkswagen finished 19th out off 33 manufacturers. That result was mostly down to the company’s 26th place finish for reliability. Having said this, the Touareg uses engines and parts from across the Volkswagen range and should be solidly constructed. It’s also a proper, tough off-roader.
The current Touareg has never been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but the old car was awarded five stars in 2004, which indicates the new model should be very safe. It has all the safety features you would expect of a car costing this much, including six airbags, electronic stability control and a driver alert system, which warns the driver when they need to rest.
Price, value for money & options
The Volkswagen Touareg is expensive, but has good standard equipment
Even the basic Volkswagen Touareg SE comes with alloy wheels, a leather interior, climate control, cruise control, parking sensors, easy-to-use touchscreen sat nav and a leather interior. Expensive options across the range include adaptive cruise control, which monitors the speed of the car in front and mantains a safe gap, as well as a parking heater that can warm the car up before you get in.
Before you add too many options, bear in mind that the Touareg's mainstream badge means it will lose more value than prestigious cars such as the Porsche Cayenne and Land Rover Discovery – although it is cheaper to buy than both of them.