VW used to offer a 5.0-liter turbodiesel V-10 with 553 lb-ft of torque in the Touareg, but it was expensive (about $70K) and, not surprisingly, found few buyers. No one need mourn its loss, though, because the 2010 Touareg TDI still offers a boatload of torque from its 3.0-liter V-6 diesel. Put it in sport mode, hit the accelerator, and the tach swings immediately to the redline at 4500 rpm and then waves back and forth between 3200 and 4500 rpm as it advances quickly and smoothly through the gears. You get a nice, muted induction sound during hard acceleration, and very little diesel clatter at idle. The upshifts are very smooth. At 50 mph in sixth gear, you're at a lazy 1500 rpm.
As has always been the case, the Touareg is a very heavy vehicle, and it lacks a bit in the body control department, although you can place it well enough in a corner. The steering could be tighter and have more direct communication, but overall, for a 5304-lb SUV it actually handles pretty well. No one will consider it sporty, but no one will consider it to be a sluggard, either.
A new Touareg is coming for the 2011 model year, but this 2010 Touareg TDI is still worth considering.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Volkswagen does diesel engines so well and the powerplant in this Touareg is no exception. The massive 406 lb-ft of torque moves the obese 5304-lb Touareg with authority and it's a more than willing partner for high-speed, straight-line highway runs, all while returning an impressive 22 mpg combined. As Joe mentioned, the chassis is quite good for such a heavy SUV, as it is supple without being floaty. I found the steering a little too light at low speeds but it was just about right on the highway.
Inside, the Touareg's sound deadening is so heavily fortified-presumably to keep out the diesel's deep burble-it sounded as if I had cotton in my ears. The interior is well constructed with typical Volkswagen fit and finish but to me the layout and design look dated. Fortunately, VW's excellent new nav/multimedia system is present.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
Aside from the muted diesel clatter on startup, you'd hardly know that you're driving an oil-burner when you're behind the wheel of the VW Touareg. As with previous Touaregs, VW doesn't skimp on the niceties, with a host of standard features including a power sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, Sirius satellite radio, burl walnut trim and aluminum accents, and power everything. And, while the vehicle is undeniably heavy, it doesn't feel particularly large when you drive it. This is partly due to the fact that the Touareg isn't as long as most of its competitors, having only two rows and accommodating just five passengers. If you have a large family or need to haul lots of people, that fact might immediately take the Touareg off your shopping list in favor of a three-row SUV. But if you need a rugged vehicle that can haul a boat or a camper without guzzling inordinate amounts of fuel (combined city/hwy EPA rating of 22 mpg), the Touareg might be a smart choice.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Yep, the Touareg is fast. My butt vBox tells me this diesel is quicker than GM's Two-mode hybrids, which get roughly the same fuel economy. The TDI also wins the green towing war, with an indicated 7716-pound limit versus the hybrid GMC Yukon's 5900-lb capacity (though as technical editor Don Sherman recently taught us, manufacturers' numbers are not always reliable)
I'm also a big fan of the VW's interior, which is handsome and well-wrought but is also very logically laid out and easy to use (the same can't be said about the Touareg's big brother, the Audi Q7).
As Joe indicated, the TDI never lets you forget it's a real SUV in terms of its body control, but within this class, and even compared to some large crossovers, it's very competent and easy to maneuver. Considering its aforementioned towing capability, I'd say this fuel efficient Touareg would be an ideal choice for a small family with stuff to haul.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI
Base price (with destination): $43,550
Price as tested: $52,500
3.0L turbo diesel
6-speed automatic transmission
Heated front seats
Dual zone climate control
AM/FM with single CD changer and 10 speakers
Sirius satellite radio
6-disc CD changer in cargo area
Power glass sunroof
Rollover sensor system
Electronic stabilization program
Center locking differential
Engine brake assist
Hill decent assist
Hill climb assist
Options on this vehicle:
Luxury plus package - $8950
Key options not on vehicle:
Trailer hitch - $500
18 / 25 / 22 mpg
Size: 3.0L turbo-diesel V-6
Horsepower: 225 hp @ 3500-4000 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1750-2250 rpm
6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Weight: 5304 lbs
17 x 7.5 alloy wheels
255/60R17 all-season tires
Competitors: Mercedes-Benz M-class, Audi Q7, Acura MDX