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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
“If you're tall, you'll love the Touareg's front seats.”
“Interior squeaks and rattles despite interior upgrade”
“not enough sport, not enough personality”
Car and Driver
“commendable driving dynamics and a feeling of indestructibility”
“noticeably quieter on the road”
Compromised interior space blended with excellent fit and finish are a tough sell on a $40,000 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, and an even taller order on a $70,000 one.
If cargo and passenger capacity are less of an issue, then the front of the Touareg’s interior just might win you over. “Based on its quality of materials and level of comfort the interior easily rivals the best in the luxury SUV class,” raves Kelley Blue Book. ConsumerGuide praises “great headroom and generous seat travel” and “firm and comfortable seats.” And MyRide.com feels “the long bottom cushion is perfect for long thighs, offering plenty of support.”
The tight rear quarters of the Touareg hurt it in comparison with a field of SUVs and crossovers that have adopted seven-passenger seating as the rule. With no third row, the Touareg can accommodate only five passengers. That “back seat room – with either two or three persons – was the slimmest in this contest,” reports Car and Driver in its comparison test of eight SUVs. Kelley Blue Book also feels “many buyers will find the Touareg 2’s five-passenger design flawed” and remarks that “even a fully loaded, $70,000+ Touareg has neither a premium badge nor a third row of seats.” Of the rear seats, ConsumerGuide remarks that “the tallest riders may want a bit more head clearance” and “foot space shrinks to marginal with the front seats set far back, but knee space is never painfully tight.” They also find that “narrow rear doorways hamper entry and exit.” MyRide.com considers the seatback “too upright and the bottom cushion…too short.”
Perhaps saving the Touareg is “a richly-appointed cabin of leather, wood and chrome trim,” according to Kelley Blue Book. Reviewers also appreciate the Volkswagen’s attention to sound attenuation, and indeed, ConsumerGuide finds that “wind rush is low for an SUV” and the “Touareg 2 matches any luxury SUV for quality of interior materials,” while still noting that some of their examples “suffered from an assortment of interior rattles.” MyRide.com comments that the leather-covered wheel “feels good in the hands; so does the similarly wrapped shift handle.” They also discover that “finding a comfortable place to rest our elbows was easy.”
In base trim, at around $40,000, the Touareg competes with luxury SUVs such as the Acura MDX, the Lexus RX 350, the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz ML500, and the Land Rover LR3. But by and large, those vehicles offer lower curb weights and, therefore, better acceleration and fuel mileage--not to mention available third-row seating in some of the above. Moving up the range, a V-8 starts at nearly $50,000. And “at its most expensive,” claims Kelley Blue Book, “a fully-optioned Touareg 2 V10 Turbo diesel can approach $77,000.” Says MyRide.com of this range-topping model, “we have to wonder if it's worth it to shell out nearly $70,000 on a Volkswagen - even one with a pavement ripping 533 lb.-ft. of torque - when an Audi and Porsche cost just as much.”
The 2008 Volkswagen Touareg has less space and fewer seats than rivals costing far less—but it does have exceptional materials.