2014 Volkswagen Touareg Review

Consumer Reviews
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 13, 2014

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is an expensive way to purchase a mainstream brand's vehicle, but it's more luxurious than many of its mainstream competitors.

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is VW's upscale utility vehicle, a couple of notches above the popular Jetta and Passat sedans, with more of a luxury look and feel. The crossover is also roomy inside and surprisingly rugged, making it attractive to the more affluent active families who aren't shopping purely on price. The Touareg starts at $44,000, but reaches another $20,000 higher with the loaded Hybrid model. And while it may be a surprise to see VW competing with out-and-out luxury SUVs, that's where the Touareg lives--and the company makes no bones about it.

To keep it competitive, Volkswagen has traded in a bit of the previous generation's rugged and off-road abilities for a more family-focused persona. The goal is to give it broader appeal--though that price remains a hangup. The latest Touareg is considerably lighter than its porcine predecessor; it's also nicer inside, and more elegant on the exterior, with less of a butch appearance.

The 2011 redesign of the Volkswagen Touareg toned down its trek-worthy look a bit, adding some softer details, as well as a grille and front end that more closely matched that of VW's cars. A slightly wider body, and somewhat longer wheelbase and length gave the design more of a conventional crossover-wagon look (and functionally, more space), while the interior layout remained much the same, with its more upright orientation compared to other family crossovers.

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Functionally, the Touareg's high seating position in front affords a good view out ahead. Front seats are excellent, but the rather tall and very wide center console tends to make the front area feel more confining than it needs to be. There's space for five, and the adult-sized rear bench can slide fore and aft more than six inches in all. You won't find a third-row seat, but cargo space is quite good, with a power-folding arrangement that yields a fully flat cargo floor.

In all, the interior has luxury-class accommodations for four adults, and the cabin appointments feel more in line with the luxury set than the frugal set. It's in synch with the other VW models in design, yet it's appointed with nicely finished materials that share more in common with Audi in look and feel. Ride quality is quite good, but the high seating position accentuates smaller motions and choppy pavement.

The 2014 Touareg offers luxury-vehicle ambiance and long list of standard features. Leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and memory seats are all included in the base Sport model. Executive and Hybrid models add premium audio, rear-obstacle detection, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and starting, and heated rear seats. Major options include an impressive 620-watt Dynaudio premium sound system, and a navigation system with upgraded display and built-in music storage.

Eight-speed automatic transmissions and full-time four-wheel drive are the building blocks in the powertrain department, while under the hood there are three quite different engine choices. Base versions get a conventional gasoline V-6--a 3.6-liter, 280-horsepower narrow-angle V-6 (VR6)--while two other versions show the way toward both more power and better gas mileage, albeit at a premium. The clean-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 TDI has been our favorite of the lineup, with its strong torque output (407 lb-ft) and confident feel for towing (up to 7,700 pounds) or highway cruising. An updated version of this engine steps up to 240 hp and even better fuel efficiency.

Otherwise, a Hybrid model combines a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor system, sandwiched between the engine and transmission, for a combined 380 horsepower--and an EPA rating of 20 mpg in city driving. It gets a better boost in highway driving compared to other hybrids, due to the system's ability to disengage the engine and motor for long high-speed coasting.

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 Touareg used to be grossly overweight, but with its last redesign a couple of years ago VW made it lighter overall, and better-detailed inside. Astoundingly--through the use of advanced materials and techniques--it engineered about 450 pounds out of the vehicle, gaining up to 20 percent better fuel efficiency. It still offers way more truck-like ability than most other crossovers do--and more off-road and towing ability than most shoppers are likely to need. Think of that as a plus or a minus, depending on priorities.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Styling

A conservative crossover body finds good company in the VW Touareg with a richly designed interior.

From a design perspective, the modern Touareg fits in well with the current lineup of VW products. It's conservative, yet sophisticated, and its cabin is a step–and in some cases, several steps–above other mainstream SUV competitors.

Inside, the layout remains comparable to other rugged-luxury crossover designs, and the somewhat high seating position, upright orientation to the instrument panel, and high, wide center console all feel stylistically synergistic. Trims and materials have been upgraded, and matte-metallic bezels help punctuate.

On the outside, a slightly wider body, and somewhat longer wheelbase and length gave the design more of a conventional crossover-wagon look (and functionally, more space). It's now more subtly sculptural, with some delicate details drawn into a conservative overall shape. What works best are the proportions: the headlights, the side glass, and the sheetmetal are balanced now, thanks to a longer wheelbase and slightly wider dimensions that also net it more usable interior space.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Performance

The VW Touareg is tough when it comes to the off-road trails, and it's a refined performer on the road.

The modern Touareg doesn't drive like the model that preceded it, so if you're expecting a crossover that drives like something much larger, take a second look. It was redesigned in 2011, where VW trimmed 450 pounds from its weight–fuel efficiency and driving dynamics improved, unless you were looking for something a little more tank-like.

The Hybrid doesn't make much fiscal sense to us, for the performance you get or for its $15k higher sticker price. Meanwhile, the Hybrid's 380 horses and 428 lb-ft of torque is enough to scoot out from a stop nicely, but it feels more sluggish and deliberate in its motions. In this model, an electric motor system is sandwiched between the engine and the transmission, with clutches on either end so that the electric motor can power the vehicle by itself under light load, at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. The Touareg Hybrid model incorporates a start-stop system and regenerative braking; and the hybrid system allows the transmission to smartly—and completely—disengage from the engine, to allow coasting long distances at higher speed.

Those who plan to tow (capacity is 7,700 pounds for all engines), or those who are motivated by the idea of much better mileage on the highway will want to head straight for the clean-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 TDI. It's our favorite of the lineup, with its strong torque output (407 lb-ft) and confident feel for towing or highway cruising. And the engine in 2014 models steps up to 240 hp and even better fuel efficiency (19 mpg city, 28 highway).

Eight-speed automatic transmissions and full-time four-wheel drive are the building blocks in the powertrain department, while under the hood there are three quite different engine choices. Base versions get a conventional gasoline V-6--a 3.6-liter, 280-horsepower narrow-angle V-6 (VR6)--while two other versions show the way toward both more power and better gas mileage, albeit at a premium. The gasoline V-6 in the base Touareg is plenty quick, thanks in part to the eight-speed, which keeps revs up when you need it (it's not much of an engine for low-end torque), and unless you're a green-minded shopper willing to pay thousands extra for a slightly lower carbon footprint, it's fine for most tasks.

The Touareg is still no crisp handler—few crossovers are, really—but it's now as nimble and responsive as many of its rivals.

For those who want a hardier level of off-road capability, there's a Terrain Tech option package that brings specialized off-road modes and an air suspension.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Comfort & Quality

A smartly detailed cabin in the Volkswagen Touareg has very good comfort for five adults.

The 2014 VW Touareg seats four adults comfortably, and the cabin feels more in tune with more luxurious SUVs in the segment. It looks like a the rest of the current Volkswagen lineup, yet it's appointed in a way that feels more like an Audi inside.

Ride quality is quite good whether you go with the standard suspension or the air setup in off-road versions, but the high seating position accentuates smaller motions and choppy pavement.

Functionally, the Touareg's high seating position in front affords a good view out ahead. Front seats are excellent, but the rather tall and very wide center console tends to make the front area feel more confining than it needs to be. There's space for five, and the adult-sized rear bench can slide fore and aft more than six inches in all. You won't find a third-row seat, but cargo space is quite good, with a power-folding arrangement that yields a fully flat cargo floor.

Still, it's a little surprising that the Touareg doesn't have three rows of seating. In shopping this model, you have to consider that its competition isn't the likes of the Toyota Highlander or Chevrolet Traverse but the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Safety

Safety scores have been good with the latest Touareg, though they're incomplete.

While the federal government hasn't yet put the Touareg through its revised NCAP program, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the last couple of model years of the Touareg its Top Safety Pick award, including "good" scores in frontal, side, rear, and roof-strength tests.

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg stands as one of the safest vehicles on the market, with a combination of excellent crash-test scores and advanced safety technology that could help avoid an accident.

The Touareg includes nine standard airbags, along with all of the standard features that are typical among crossovers, but it's the safety-tech options that are most noteworthy. An Area View monitor with four cameras; Lane Assist and Side Assist blind-spot monitors; adaptive cruise control; and bi-xenon headlamps with Dynamic Light Assist, could each serve in avoiding some kinds of accidents and keep your family safer.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Features

Luxury pricing is a bigger battle for the Touareg than the omission of a few luxury-level features.

If you're able to look past the Touareg's mainstream badge, you'll find a vehicle with options and equipment on par with many of the more luxurious alternatives on the road today. Whether or not those features justify the luxury price is your decision–and we think a moderately equipped V-6 or TDI Touareg makes for a reasonably-priced deal.

The VR6 and TDI models come in Sport, Lux and Executive trims, while the Hybrid only comes in what is comparable to the Executive trim level. All vehicles come with standard with the panoramic sunroof and leather/memory seating. Premium audio is found on Executive and Hybrid models, which also receive a heated steering wheel, reverse sensors, heated rear seats and keyless start. The Hybrid also receives a power tilt and telescoping wheel.

If you're already splurging and willing to spend some extra, options at the top of the lineup include a 620-watt Dynaudio premium audio system, as well as a navigation system with upgraded display and built-in music storage.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Fuel Economy

The Touareg is still a big crossover, but even with TDI or Hybrid drivetrains, it's no more efficient than some seven-passenger wagons.

There are three engines available in the 2014 VW Touareg, each with a very different personality. You won't find a ton of torque in the V-6 (VR6) models, but they're plenty strong and have willing acceleration if you're not towing frequently. For those in need of a vehicle with towing capabilities, we strongly encourage looking at the TDI models. The Hybrid model improves the city fuel economy to some degree, but not enough to justify its premium pricing.

While we value the Hybrid as a stepping stone toward greater electrification, we'd advise shoppers to make the practical choice toward the TDI—especially if you plan to do much expressway driving or take a lot of highway trips.

At an EPA-rated 17/23 mpg or 19 mpg combined, the V-6 lands at the bottom of the fuel-economy scale for the Touareg--and that's about par for the class, really. The TDI model rings in at 20/29 mpg or 23 mpg combined, while the Hybrid version gets just 20/24 mpg or 21 mpg combined. And with the Hybrid particularly, there's a stiff price premium.

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January 4, 2017
2014 Volkswagen Touareg 4-Door TDI R-Line

The best Vehicle I ever owned

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I would like to buy a new TDI Touareg R-Line but the government is preventing the sales.
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April 14, 2015
For 2014 Volkswagen Touareg

best and most comfy car I have ever had.

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I love the features and style of this car. I t has plenty of get up and go and very comfortable to drive.
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