2008 Volkswagen Touareg Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 1, 2008

The 2008 Volkswagen Touareg has more toughness than most mid-size SUVs for heavy-duty towing and off-road needs yet on-the-road comfort doesn’t suffer.

In bringing you this comprehensive review covering the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, the automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com have looked to some of the most respected review sources on the Web. Then, in order to make the review especially useful, TheCarConnection.com’s editors have included their own firsthand driving experience.

The mid-size 2008 Volkswagen Touareg sport-utility vehicle looks like a car-based crossover vehicle, and even though it doesn’t have a ladder frame like some of the workhorse SUVs, it’s still capable of much more serious off-road situations and heavier towing tasks than other crossovers.

The 2008 Volkswagen Touareg keeps the same basic shape as last year’s model, but it incorporates a host of smaller changes inside and out and gains "Touareg2" badging. The headlights and front air intakes follow a new design, with more brightwork, and a new LED rear lamp design is introduced. Aerodynamics have been improved, roof rails are now standard, and a new rear spoiler fits much better with the Touareg’s silhouette.

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Inside, the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg breaks away from VW’s traditionally Spartan cabins, with fine leather, metal, and wood materials along with pleasing plastics; it’s put together well, with easy-to-read gauges and mostly well-placed controls.

Seating is very generous and spacious in front, with great seats that are soft enough to feel luxurious, yet sufficiently firm for ache-free long drives. Behind the front seats, the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg is disappointing, with backseats that are comfortable but don’t offer a lot of space for larger folks and surprisingly little cargo space. The four-zone climate control aids comfort in back, however.

The 2008 Volkswagen Touareg comes in V-6, V-8, and V-10 models. The base V-6 model’s 276-horsepower, 3.6-liter now moves the Touareg respectably, though it’s not particularly quick. The V-8 model’s 350-horsepower, 4.2-liter provides more satisfying acceleration for driving around with a full load of people or cargo, but the V-10 model’s huge 5.0-liter turbodiesel engine is the choice if you plan to tow a big boat up the ramp and onto the interstate—it makes nearly as much horsepower as the V-8 (310 hp versus 350 hp), but with an enviable 553 pound-feet of torque. Properly equipped, the Touareg can tow up to 7,716 pounds. But the big turbodiesel isn’t a choice for those who wish to go green; it’s not offered in California-emissions states, and it gets the same highway fuel economy as the V-6, just hitting 20 mpg. With the V-8 engine, the Touareg is rated at only 12 mpg city.

The 2008 Volkswagen Touareg has an extremely smooth, settled ride that’s comfortable but not at as bouncy as some SUVs, and the interior is remarkably quiet. It also handles well for a vehicle that in some trims can approach three tons—although the weight can be felt in abrupt maneuvers. Despite the Touareg’s length and width, which aren’t all that different from a mid-size sedan's, the Touareg is somewhat difficult to park, with limited rearward visibility—though now-standard parking sensors help.

The Touareg’s all-wheel-drive system has a low range for serious off-roading, along with the impressive approach and departure angles to conquer some precarious situations. Hill descent and climb assist, two electronic aids, also help with slippery situations. The available air suspension package brings the ability to adjust ride height and improves handling both on- and off-road.

Several features that were optional before are now standard on the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, including a power rear liftgate, sonar parking sensors, and Sirius Satellite Radio. Heated seats, a sunroof, keyless entry, cruise control, and dual-zone climate control are also included. Major options include a high-end Dynaudio sound system, a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, and cricket leather and walnut trim upgrades. A Bluetooth hands-free system is still not offered.

Front side airbags, full-length side curtain bags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control are all standard on the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg. It has done very well in federal crash tests, with top five-star ratings in both frontal and side-impact tests.

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