New For 2014
The biggest news for the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is the new R-Line model. Building on the Lux trim level for both the V-6 and TDI models, the R-Line adds 20-inch “Mallory” aluminum wheels, a sport suspension, LED taillights, revised front and rear fascias, a black headliner, a unique steering wheel, and a bevy of R-Line badges inside and out. Keyless access with push-button start is now standard on almost every Touareg, as is a trailer hitch and a motion-activated trunk opener).
Volkswagen introduced the Touareg in 2002 after previewing its first modern SUV with the Advanced Activity Concept (AAC) at the 2000 Detroit auto show. The AAC wore what would become the Touareg’s front clip but was a pickup truck, rather than an SUV, and the interior gave a relatively good preview of the original Touareg’s overall cabin layout. Unlike many other SUVS in the automotive landscape at the time of the first-generation Touareg’s debut, Volkswagen’s entry upped the ante with a handsome and premium cabin and a clean, masculine exterior design. The SUV managed to blend the on-road handling of the sporty BMW X5 with the go-anywhere ability of a Toyota Land Cruiser, thanks to an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system, a trio of lockable differentials (front, rear, and center), and an optional air suspension system. A turbo-diesel V-10 was available for a short time, and we even enjoyed a weekend with a racing version of the big VW.
The Touareg was face-lifted in 2007 (briefly called the Touareg 2 until 2009) with a new front fascia and the availability of a blind-spot warning system, among other options. 2011 brought an all-new, second-generation Touareg, which is still on sale.
Although the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is still an off-road warrior — locking differentials, air suspension, and a plethora of cameras are all available – Volkswagen has worked to make its large SUV more luxurious. The cabin moves even further upscale with buttery leather hides, real wood and metal trim, and a large and crisp infotainment screen. The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is available in V-6, Hybrid, and TDI V-6 diesel guises.
Compared with more carlike competitors, the Touareg‘s proportions, packaging, and seating position make it feel more like a brawny SUV from five years ago than a modern crossover. That doesn’t mean Volkswagen is ignoring buyers’ demands for fuel-efficient vehicles, though. In addition to a hearty 280-hp V-6, VW offers two alternatives to the traditional gasoline engine. A turbo-diesel V-6 produces massive torque and respectable fuel-economy ratings of 20/29 mpg city/highway.
At 24 mpg, the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg gasoline/electric hybrid isn’t nearly as efficient on the highway, but the city rating is the same 20 mpg. If the hybrid’s fuel economy is a bit underwhelming, its power is anything but. The core engine is a supercharged V-6, and when combined with the electric motor, total output is 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. The Touareg Hybrid impresses us with a surprisingly sporty demeanor — the engine is from the Audi S4, and the traditional eight-speed automatic keeps it from droning or surging — and the transition between gas and electric modes is seamless.
The diesel and hybrid powertrains offer the responsiveness and refinement Americans have come to expect from gasoline engines, and all three engines — even the hybrid — are rated to tow an impressive 7700 pounds. Another feather in the VW’s cap is the fact that the SUV has been rated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the Touareg’s biggest problem is that it’s priced like a luxury SUV without the luxury badge on the hood. It also doesn’t have three rows (even as an option) like many of its competitors; for added passenger capacity, buyers have to step up to the Touareg’s platform mate, the Audi Q7. If you can get past the high price tag, you’ll find the Touareg to be a comfortable, competent SUV with an upscale interior.
- Efficient and refined diesel
- Premium interior
- Good driving dynamics
You won’t like:
- Very expensive
- No third row
- Mediocre hybrid fuel economy
- BMW X5
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Infiniti FX
- Mercedes-Benz ML-Class