Slumping sales figures have caused Volkswagen Group to discontinue Touareg sales in the US market for 2018. It’s a sad day for the SUV once celebrated as the “poor man’s Cayenne.” A Touareg purchase may have made sense in the past, especially in V10 TDI form, but the aging crossover’s sole anemic V6 power plant and hefty price tag have garnered little enthusiasm from US consumers.
With cheaper, stronger competitors littering the SUV market, the Touareg is all but dead. However, the well-equipped, capable, and subtle SUV may be just the right fit for some and you should be able to take advantage of slow sales for a sweet deal on one of the last Touaregs on a Volkswagen lot.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the Touareg is its value proposition. Though we commend VW for including an impressive list of standard features for 2017, the price also rose about 5,000 dollars to nearly 50k. Several “true” luxury options start near that price, including the stellar Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLE. The Volkswagen badge doesn’t carry the same weight to justify its high price. If you aren’t concerned with badging, the Jeep Grand Cherokee outclasses the Touareg in nearly every aspect for thousands less. The Summit trimmed Grand Cherokee starts around the Touareg’s base price and offers refinement superior to even the top trimmed “Executive” Touareg which retails for $60,195.
For the money, you get a quicker SUV with better driving dynamics, more features, better off-road performance, and better fuel economy. The harder you look, the tougher it is to justify purchasing a Touareg over its many worthy competitors.
The Touareg used to be available with a variety of powertrain options but those days are over. The lone engine available is a 280 horsepower 3.6 Liter V6. It’s mated to a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic with a manual shifting mode that delivers better performance as the automatic mode is programmed for optimal fuel economy which is acceptable for the class at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Acceleration is likewise acceptable at 7.8 seconds to sixty, quite a bit slower than direct competitors like the Grand Cherokee or Acura MDX that cost thousands less despite comparable refinement. Handling and ride quality are a strong point, the smooth suspension soaks up road imperfections without fuss. It’s softer than VW Group’s other offerings, sacrificing agility for comfort.
The big SUV still remains composed in corners and has great brakes to scrub speed off if you get overzealous. If you need to tow, you’re in luck. The 7,716 lbs of towing capacity are well above average for similarly sized SUVs. Ground clearance is 7.9 inches, enough to handle a bit of off-roading when you need it but isn’t as capable as either the Land Rover Discovery or Jeep Grand Cherokee. Overall, there are better performing alternatives in the crowded midsize segment but some may find the Touareg to fit their needs just right.
The Touareg’s interior is upscale with quality materials befitting its $50,000 dollar price tag. The seats are supportive and comfortable and only get better as you move up the trims. There’s standard lumbar support in the front seats as well as generous thigh support for even taller drivers.
Rear seats slide and recline to provide optimum comfort and an excellent SUV for hauling four adults, five might be cramped. We’d skip the faux wood trim option and go with either the brushed aluminum or gloss black trim pieces.
The standard 8-inch infotainment system isn’t bad but doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which many SUVs at this price and below do. At least the audio system it’s paired with is one of the better stock systems around. Adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, and forward collision warning with automatic braking are standard.
A sunroof, 360-degree camera, and 10 speaker Dynaudio sound system are added when you move up to the mid-tier trim for just a few thousand more. The 64 cubic feet of overall cargo space and 32.1 behind the rear row should be enough to swallow anything you need to haul. Access to space is easy, thanks to the standard hands-free power liftgate, which is usually reserved as a costly option in competitors.
The cabin isolates occupants from wind and road noise well, as you’d expect from a German SUV. Though the interior of the Touareg is well-appointed, it’s tough to justify paying full price when the base Audi Q7 provides a nicer interior at a similar price. Adding some of the options the Touareg includes will push the price higher but many more are willing to pay the extra money for the more prestigious Audi.
The Touareg is an attractive midsize SUV. It features a clean, classy design that echoes its corporate cousins the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. Bi-Xenon headlamps are standard with LED daytime running lamps, below a large lower intake between dual vents augments the Touareg’s athletic image. The side profile is smooth and curvy without being too busy. At the rear, LED taillamps, chrome dual exhaust tips, and a roof spoiler are standard. Large alloy wheels with wide tires further enhance the SUV’s stance. There’s no question the Touareg is an eye-catching SUV but the biggest problem is the Volkswagen badge that fails to draw the same amount of consumers as the more distinguished Audi or Porsche.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the latest Touareg. However, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed crash testing on the 2015 model which is more or less the same as the 2017. They offer all “GOOD” crashworthiness ratings in the tests performed but it’s worth noting that their most difficult test, the small front overlap test, was not performed. The available front collision prevention technology is rated “Advanced,” indicating average performance for this technology. The technology, unlike many competitors, is included without having to pay extra, for which we commend Volkswagen. Overall, we’d rate the Touareg as among the more safe SUVs on the market. Some receive better ratings, like the Acura MDX that receives a “Top Safety Pick+” designation from the IIHS but the Touareg is expected to perform admirably in the event of an accident. An automatic crash notification system will dispatch emergency services to your location if there’s an accident, which saves precious time and could reduce the risk of fatality.
JD Power awards the Touareg a 3 out of 5 predicted reliability rating, meaning the Touareg is about as reliable as every other SUV in their opinion. Consumer reports disagree and offer a 1 out of 5 predicted reliability rating. The Touareg hasn’t changed much since the 2011 model year, so extensive NHTSA data is available. A hybrid model was discontinued after just one year of production. The TDI model was discontinued as a result of “Diesel Gate,” despite it being the most sought-after version.
The number of overall complaints for the last several years is quite low. The better part of the complaints are for a steering shake and vibration at speeds from about 60 mph to 75 mph, it is not clear as to whether the suspension, steering system, or tires are at fault. However, one of the complainants claims the problem was resolved after a new tire change with a nitro fill and aftermarket alignment but most claim the dealer wasn’t able to fix the issue. Be sure to test drive the Touareg at highway speeds to see if the one you’re looking at is affected.
The second most common complaint that we found alarming is a sudden loss of power. Multiple owners complain the Touareg randomly lost power while driving. Turning on and off the vehicle fixed the issue and many weren’t able to demonstrate the problem to their dealers. Beyond these issues, there aren’t very many other complaints. As a result, we think the reliability of the Touareg is mediocre. It does have one of the best powertrain warranties around at 100,000 miles, uncommon for a luxurious SUV.
We’ve already mentioned that a base Audi Q7 delivers better performance for a base price beneath that of the Touareg. However, if you want the standard safety features the Touareg provides, you’ll have to pay extra for the Premium Plus trim, about the price of the Wolfsburg Touareg. For that money, you get an all-around better SUV.
Let’s assume, though, you’re considering a Touareg because you want a well-equipped luxury SUV at a reasonable base price. For $46,200 you can get an Acura MDX with SH-AWD that comes standard with real leather seating, AcuraWatch advanced safety features, nine-speed automatic transmission with paddles shifters, standard LED lighting, power moonroof, third-row seating, ambient lighting, and a superior infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Acura delivers far superior on-road performance, with a zero to sixty over 2 seconds quicker and better suspension. The Acura also receives higher safety and reliability scores and boasts the highest resale value of any luxury SUV. Move up the trims, and the gap only widens. The MDX Sport Hybrid is available from $51,960 and includes AWD, the Tech package, and active damping suspension. The Tech Package includes remote engine start, blind spot information system, Acura Navigation System with HD Traffic, ELS Studio premium audio system, 20-inch alloy wheels, a dual clutch 7-speed transmission with paddle shifters, and an Integrated Dynamics System Sport+ Mode that helps the Hybrid reach 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. Fuel economy for the Hybrid is 26 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. All this costs less than $2,000 more than a base Touareg. We think that this decision is a no-brainer: get the MDX Hybrid, you won’t be disappointed!
The Touareg Sport starts from $49,495 with a 3.6 Liter engine that delivers 280 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an 8-speed automatic that powers all wheels via Volkswagen’s 4Motion system. Even this base trim is generously equipped with a hands-free easy-open liftgate, privacy glass with heat reduction glazing on windshield and front windows, silver roof rails, stainless steel hatch sill protection, Servotronic steering system, heated side mirrors with integrated flood lighting, heated windshield washer nozzles, trailer hitch, double wishbone front suspension, independent four-link rear suspension, Park Distance Control, window diversity antenna, rain-sensing intermittent windshield wipers, automatic headlights with home feature, Bi-Xenon high intensity headlights with LED daytime running lamps, adaptive front lighting system, halogen reflector lens foglights with low-speed corner-illuminating feature, LED license plate lighting, LED taillights, dual chrome exhaust tips, and 18 inch Arica alloy wheels with 255/55 R18 all-season tires.
And that’s just the outside!Inside, there’s a Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control with pollen filter, adaptive cruise control, front and rear carpet floor mats, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, interior ambient lighting, premium color multi-function instrument cluster display, electronic parking brake, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with multi-function controls, self-dimming rearview mirror with on/off switch, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, HomeLink universal transceiver, four 12-volt power outlets, keyless access with push-button start, and 115 volt inverter outlet. Seating consists of 8-way power adjustable heated front seats and a 60/40 split folding rear seat that slides and reclines.
A front center armrest with storage sits between the front seats, while a folding armrest includes two cup holders in the rear. All seating surfaces are covered in V-Tex leatherette seating surface. Standard technology includes Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, Media Device Interface with iPod cable, RNS 850 premium touchscreen navigation with 60GB hard drive, rearview camera system, 8 speakers, and 4 year SiriusXM Traffic subscription. Forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking is included, as is lane change assistant and lane departure warning. The interior is trimmed with silver metallic accents and high gloss black center console and surrounds. Other standard safety features are anti-lock braking, anti-slip regulation, electronic stability control with electronic differential lock, electronic brake pressure distribution, engine braking assist, hill descent assist, rollover sensor system, automatic locking retractors, front seat side thorax supplemental restraint system, crash-optimized pedal controls and front end, side curtain protection head airbags, brake override system, passenger occupant detection, safety cage construction, tire pressure monitoring, and Intelligent Crash Response System.
The Wolfsburg trim provides a power tilting/sliding sunroof, 20 inch Tarragona alloy wheels with 275/45 R20 all-season tires, Vienna leather seating surfaces with active ventilation in front seats, a 14-way power adjustable driver’s seat with 4-way power lumbar support, power folding rear seats, and brushed aluminum appearance pedal covers for $52,795. Black Mallory 20 inch wheels can be added at no additional charge.
A $60,195 Executive trim installs 21 inch Mallory alloy wheels with 275/40 R21 all-season tires, roll up sunshades for rear door window glass, heated rear seats, driver seat memory function, fully upholstered luggage compartment, Dynaudio 620-watt premium audio system with 10 speakers, stainless steel door sill protection, and engineered Ebony interior trim with metallic trim surrounds.