Volkswagen Touareg SUV
Price £43,000 - £47,500
- Decent fuel economy for a big 4x4
- Smart looks
- Luxurious cabin
- Looks very similar to its predecessor
- Expensive to buy
- No seven-seat option
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 things the VW does quite well. All models come with four-wheel drive and there's a choice of two 3.0-litre diesel engines, a 201bhp and 258bhp version, 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 boast the same premium feel of the Porsche Cayenne.
Trim levels include SE, R-Line and Escape. Every Touareg gets 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a DAB radio and parking sensors. If you plan to use your Touareg off-road then the Escape model comes fitted 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 actually that expensive to run
Since VW dropped the hybrid and larger V8 diesel engine from the Volkswagen Touareg line-up, the economy and 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 every 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, ensuring the 258bhp engine falls into the same tax bracket. It's worth noting that when fitted to the Touareg Escape model, the more powerful engine returns 40.9mpg and emits 180g/km of CO2, resulting in a £20 annual premium in road tax.
As a big four-wheel drive car, maintenance costs for the Volkswagen Touareg are never going to be cheap but Volkswagen does offer fixed-price service plans, as well as the option to pay for your car’s upkeep via a fixed monthly rate.
Engines, drive & performance
Based on the Porsche Cayenne, the Volkswagen Touareg is good to drive, with quick and powerful diesel engines
Comfort was a high priority when Volkswagen designed the Touareg so if you want an SUV that offers driver thrills the BMW X5 and the Porsche Cayenne are both better options. The Volkswagen is stable enough in the corners though and feels much smaller to drive than it actually is. A lot of that’s down to the car’s nicely shaped steering wheel and its 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 0-60mph 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 models suit the car perfectly, and offer more than enough power for everyday driving.
Interior & comfort
A comfortable and well-built interior allows the Volkswagen Touareg to compete with premium rivals
As a tall car the Volkswagen Touareg gives its driver a clear view of the road and you feel well insulated from your surroundings thanks to the car’s quiet interior and comfortable seats. As you would expect on an expensive model like this, the Touareg gets a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that can be fine-tuned for rake and reach.
Sitting in the back might not be so enjoyable if you end up on the middle seat. Unlike in the Land Rover Discovery, it’s raised and there’s not a lot of space for your feet thanks to the car’s transmission tunnel, which runs down the centre of the interior.
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 passengers. The interior also gets lots of useful storage areas including a large glovebox and a storage area in the centre of the dashboard, a space hidden under the front centre armrest, and spacious door bins.
Aside from the tight space for the middle passenger, the back seat has useful features including the ability to slide forwards and backwards, as well as recline. The back seats drop down easily – by pressing a button in the boot – allowing boot space to increase from 490 to 1,642 litres. Although the seats don’t fold completely flat into the boot, there’s no boot lip so even heavy items shouldn’t be too difficult to get in.
Reliability & safety
The Volkswagen Touareg feels solidly built, but there's a few question marks over VW reliability of late
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 and that it didn’t post any top-ten scores. 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 gets 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 take a rest.
Price, value for money & options
The Volkswagen Touareg is expensive, but has good levels of standard equipment
Even the basic Volkswagen Touareg SE comes with alloy wheels, a leather interior, climate control, cruise control, parking sensors, an easy-to-use touchscreen sat-nav system and a leather interior. Expensive options across the range include adaptive cruise control, which can monitor the car in front’s speed and keep the Touareg a safe distance away, and a parking heater that can warm up the car before you get in it.
Before you spec too many options, bear in mind that the Touareg will lose more value than cars such as the Porsche Cayenne and Land Rover Discovery – but it's cheaper to buy than both, so that alone is sure to attract plenty of interested customers.