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