While many cars and trucks come and go in our test fleet, the Touareg has stayed put for two years. It’s a big, comfortable rig that can take on tough off-roading and cross-country treks with ease. And it’s loaded with premium technology and plenty of creature comforts. It was a bit of a splurge when new, but the Touareg’s high-quality interior and commanding power have kept it a stalwart in our ranks.
Developed with Porsche’s Cayenne, the Touareg features permanent four-wheel drive and offroad gearing that allows 100 percent of its available power to be sent to either front or rear wheels as conditions require. Electronically controlled 4XMotion also helps the Touareg negotiate difficult terrain by automatically adjusting shift points and throttle calibrations to optimize performance and fuel economy.
The Touareg’s powerful V-8 engine is well-suited to its weight; we clocked it at 7.5 seconds to 60 and through the quarter-mile in 15.7. By contrast, its little brother sputters and strains to make headway under load and is nearly a second off the pace.
Volkswagen’s rich diesel heritage comes into play with the Touareg. We’ve tested the smooth 2.5 TDI and monstrously muscular 5.0 TDI, both of which do a fine job of propelling this portly ute. Ride quality is pleasant with the air suspension, although sequential rough spots can unsettle it. Cargo room is generous. Fold down the rear seats, and the Touareg offers 71 cubic feet of space. That’s more than a BMW X5 and close to the space in a Mercedes M-class or Range Rover.