2010 Volkswagen Touareg Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 6, 2010

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.

To bring you the most useful review possible on the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg, TheCarConnection.com has looked to some of the most reputable review sources on the Web, handpicking highlights for a full review. The editors of TheCarConnection.com have also driven the Volkswagen Touareg—including the more fuel-efficient TDI—and give you observations along with comparisons to rival vehicles here in this Bottom Line.

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.

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In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)

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.

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2010 Volkswagen Touareg

Styling

The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg doesn't make any strong statements on the outside, though there's a lot to love inside.

With a smooth, wagon-like 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. 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.

Kelley Blue Book states that the Volkswagen Touareg "looks every bit a member of the VW family, with restyled headlamps and a large chrome grille that echoes the look of the Volkswagen Passat." As for exterior styling elements, Cars.com notes that the Touareg sports "scalloped headlights with pronounced bezels," while the rear "has darker taillights and a new roof spoiler." Kelley Blue Book also recognizes hints of off-road ability in this ute's appearance, commenting that the Touareg's "tall, wide stance gives the impression that it's ready to take on the toughest trails." Regarding the TDI diesel variant, Motor Trend points out that "from the outside, the only real evidence that this is a diesel is the TDI badge."

Inside, the Touareg's cabin is a drastic departure from VW's traditionally Spartan cabins, although some reviewers complain about cluttered instrument-panel controls. Edmunds raves about the Volkswagen Touareg's "upscale, elegant cabin." Automobile Magazine says that the upgraded nav-system has "a much nicer display and more intuitive functionality make interacting with the navigation system a breeze" now. ConsumerGuide notes that "the gauges, dashboard, and console look contemporary and upscale." However, they find "the proliferation of buttons and controls requires a preflight briefing."

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7

2010 Volkswagen Touareg

Performance

The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg is stellar off-road, though it's not particularly noteworthy for on-road performance. Fuel economy is quite good with the TDI engine, though.

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.

Reviewers aren't very impressed with performance from the V-6 either. As ConsumerGuide notes, "the V6 labors in mountain driving and highway passing sprints." The turbodiesel, on the other hand, wins rave reviews in articles researched by TheCarConnection.com. Car and Driver says that the Volkswagen "Touareg V-6 TDI is a remarkably smooth SUV." Motor Trend adds that "even though the TDI Touareg has less horsepower than the gas V-6 and the diesel version weighs about 110 lb more, you wouldn't know it from behind the wheel."

Motor Trend raves about the "excellent six-speed automatic" that is fitted to the Volkswagen Touareg, while Kelley Blue Book reports that "hard-core off-roaders will also appreciate the Touareg 2's optional locking rear differential."

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 Touareg's off-road credentials are impressive, with Popular Mechanics calling the Touareg "hypercapable off-road." 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.

Any time you drive a vehicle that weighs north of 5,000 pounds, you should expect to pay a hefty price at the pump. That is generally true for the 2009 Volkswagen Touareg, but a new V-6 turbodiesel engine option helps ease the pain when filling up for your next adventure. While the EPA estimates that the conventional V-6 will get 14 mpg city, 20 highway, the TDI fares much better.

Weight gets in the way of agile handling in the 2010 Touareg, but ride quality is quite good no matter which model and whether you get the available air suspension. On the Volkswagen Touareg TDI, Automobile Magazine reviewers "found the amount of body roll to be excessive." ConsumerGuide, meanwhile, reports that "the steering has a linear feel, but it isn't as precise as it should be." Braking isn't exactly a strong suit either, with Car and Driver claiming that the Volkswagen Touareg has the "longest braking distance of this pack" of eight SUVs in their comparison test.

Also on the positive side, the Volkswagen Touareg's ride quality is compliant. ConsumerGuide contends that "the impressively rigid structure enhances comfort," although "bumps intrude on models equipped with the 19-inch wheels, and some testers complained of float in Touaregs so equipped."

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2010 Volkswagen Touareg

Comfort & Quality

Although the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg comes up short with respect to interior space, it has the ride, refinement, and impressive interior materials of a true luxury vehicle.

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.

ConsumerGuide observes that the "firm and comfortable seats" up front combine with a "standard tilt and telescopic steering wheel [that] helps drivers find an ideal position" to create an exceedingly comfortable driving environment. The Volkswagen Touareg is unanimously derided, though, for its low overall seating capacity—Kelley Blue Book notes that "many SUVs now offer a third row of seats, increasing occupant capacity to seven, but the Touareg remains a two-row SUV, thus limiting the number of seats to five." Cars.com brings out the numbers, pointing out that the Touareg's "99 cubic feet of passenger volume is smaller than some of its competitors," while ConsumerGuide says that "foot and knee space" in the rear "shrinks to marginal with the front seats set far back."

Cargo space isn't very impressive either, with the Touareg's interior somehow coming up short—a consequence of the rather high cargo floor. ConsumerGuide finds that the rear seatbacks don't fold flat until you complete "an annoying ritual of flipping the lower cushions and removing the headrests," and Edmunds is somewhat shocked to discover that "cargo capacity is 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and a mere 71 cubic feet when they're folded. A humble Honda CR-V beats that."

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. Edmunds notes that "most surfaces are soft-touch, and hard surfaces...feel smooth and substantial," while "build quality is excellent, too." Kelley Blue Book adds that the Volkswagen Touareg's interior is a "richly-appointed cabin of leather, wood and chrome trim" that "easily rivals the best in the luxury SUV class."

Enhancing the refined feel of the interior is excellent insulation from wind and road noise. "Wind rush is low for an SUV," notes ConsumerGuide.

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2010 Volkswagen Touareg

Safety

The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg is stout and secure, among the safest vehicles of its kind.

Built like a fortress and appointed with all the expected safety features, the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg promises tremendous security and protection. Sure enough, it's done very well in federal crash tests, with top five-star ratings in both frontal and side-impact tests.

Front side airbags, full-length side curtain bags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control are all standard, along with some other lesser-known extras. Edmunds reports that all Volkswagen Touaregs come with "antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, hill descent and incline roll-back control." Cars.com adds that "an automatic brake-drying feature for rainy weather" is standard, while the Volkswagen Touareg also offers an "optional backup camera." Popular Mechanics also notes a new rollover protection system, Active Rollover Protection, that "activates the side and side-curtain airbags to reduce the possibility of injury" if sensors anticipate a rollover.

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. Although ConsumerGuide reports that "hampering visibility to the front corners are large outside mirrors and to the rear are back-seat headrests," they add that "the rearview camera is a help."

Review continues below
7

2010 Volkswagen Touareg

Features

Some shoppers will find more than enough luxury features and creature comforts in the base 2010 Touareg. Others will find interest in the options list, though things can quickly get pricey.

The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg includes a lot of standard features, such as  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 Touareg, 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.

The options list for the Touareg is extensive as well. A Lux Plus package for the Volkswagen Touareg adds such features as "keyless access and starting, upgraded sound system," and even more, according to ConsumerGuide. Another package that the reviewers at Edmunds find desirable is the "Technology Package, [which] adds a rearview camera, a hard-drive-based navigation system and an upgraded 11-speaker audio system. A locking rear differential is also available."

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