Volkswagen seems to have hit another home run with the new Touareg sport-utility vehicle, just as it did with the New Beetle and the Passat. They decided that the Touareg must be a true SUV, id est, with superior manners on- and off-road, and, bless their little Teutonic hearts, they have pulled it off. The interior dimensions and on-road handling/ roadholding of the Touareg are much like those of BMW's X5, but its behavior off-road is more like that of a Range Rover or a Land Cruiser. Volkswagen avoided building a watered-down crossover vehicle, feeling that the target market would demand validation--it would not be enough for a VW SUV to look like an SUV; it also would have to manage tumbled rocks and steep gullies the way a genuine SUV does. Even the navigation system is programmed for off-road use, just like a hiker's hand-held GPS unit.
Some of our fellow automotive journalists have suggested that the name, Touareg, is a disaster that will bring down the entire enterprise. They predict that Americans will not be able to pronounce it. We'd prefer Webster's spelling, Tuareg, which is the name of a fierce and warlike desert tribe that gave the French Foreign Legion fits for decades and was never truly subjugated. Others mutter darkly about the Tuaregs' historic role in the African slave trade and wonder how the Germans could have committed such a hideous gaffe.... Read full article