- Refinement and quiet
- Premium-feel interior design and materials
- Ride comfort
- Top safety protection
- Torque and drivability of TDI engine
- Unimpressive backseat and cargo space
- Not easy to park or maneuver in tight spaces
- Low fuel economy (gasoline engines)
The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg is a different type of vehicle than it appears. If toughness takes precedence over space and versatility, it might be right for you.
Looks are deceiving for the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg; it looks like a soft, carlike crossover, a bigger brother to the much leaner Tiguan, but despite its styling, the Touareg offers serious off-road capability and trail ruggedness, along with some measure of trailer-towing ability. But families simply seeking a conveyance for people and cargo on the road are likely to be a little disappointed, as the Touareg's design fails to emphasize space and efficiency.
For 2008, the Volkswagen Touareg was given a modest restyling, with a little more brightwork, new LED rear lamps, and some slight aerodynamic and interior improvements—plus a number of new tech features and improvements—but overall the Touareg has changed little since its introduction seven years ago. With a smooth, wagonlike profile, lifted with off-road-friendly ground clearance, bright side sills, and a grille not unlike those on VW's cars, the Touareg looks more soft than rugged. Inside, the Touareg's cabin is a drastic departure from VW's traditionally Spartan cabins.
Last year Volkswagen introduced a more fuel-efficient turbodiesel engine to the lineup. The new 3.0-liter TDI V-6 makes 221 horsepower and 407-lb-ft of torque—especially good for off-roading or towing—yet achieves EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 highway. The engine is much cleaner than the previous diesel offered on the Touareg and meets 50-state emissions. For 2010, VW discontinues the V-8, leaving the TDI as a premium to the base engine on the Touareg, a 3.6-liter gasoline V-6. The V-6 is an updated version of VW’s venerable narrow-angle VR6 engine. Output is a respectable 276 horsepower, but the V-6 doesn't have enough low-rev torque to move the heavy Touareg with much authority.
The four-wheel-drive system included with the Touareg 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, or when towing. When properly equipped, the Volkswagen Touareg can haul up to 7,716 pounds.
Seating is reasonably comfortable in the 2010 Touareg, though it lacks the impressive interior and cargo space that you might have come to expect from utility vehicles. The front seats are spectacular, managing to be both luxuriously soft yet firm enough for ache-free long drives—and the driving position is nice and upright—but the rear seats disappoint. The second-row bench is comfortable, but there’s no third-row seat and surprisingly little room for either passengers or cargo in back. Throughout the interior, appointments feel premium, and this VW could easily carry an exclusive luxury badge. Fine leather, metal, and wood interior materials lift the mood, while soft-touch plastics round out the cabin design. Fit and finish is superb as well, and while most gauges are easy to read, there is a rather confusing array of buttons and controls. Ride quality is excellent in the Touareg. Thanks in part to its heft, the Touareg's ride is smooth, settled, and not nearly as bouncy as in other off-road-capable SUVs, with a tight, quiet cabin. It handles well for a vehicle that in some trims can approach three tons—although the weight can be felt in abrupt maneuvers.
Built like a fortress and appointed with all the expected safety features, the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg promises tremendous security and protection. Front side airbags, full-length side curtain bags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control are all standard. Sure enough, it's done very well in federal crash tests, with top five-star ratings in both frontal and side-impact tests. Maneuverability is a disappointment; despite the manageable length and width (at the small end of a mid-size car), the Touareg is somewhat difficult to park, and visibility is impaired—you'll need to rely on the now-standard rear sensors.
The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg includes a lot of standard features. Examples include a power rear liftgate, sonar parking sensors, and Sirius Satellite Radio, as well as heated seats, a sunroof, keyless entry, cruise control, and dual-zone climate control. A Bluetooth hands-free interface is now standard on the Toureg, and major options include a high-end Dynaudio sound system, a navigation system, and adaptive cruise control, plus lavish interior materials upgrades with cricket leather and walnut trim.