This redesigned Volkswagen Touareg is so much smaller than the previous generation that I had to look twice at the model name on the key chain to make sure that I wasn't getting into VW's smaller sport-ute, the Tiguan. Not surprisingly, it felt smaller and more nimble from behind the wheel, too, despite only a minor reduction in overall weight. But while downsizing was good for vehicle dynamics, it might seem a bit counterintuitive in terms of vehicle sales as the Touareg's passenger and cargo volume is within 10 cubic feet of the much more affordable Tiguan. The advantage of stepping up to the more expensive Touareg though, was evident once I stepped on the throttle. While the Tiguan only has one available engine, the Touareg offers a roster of three powertrains, the most notable player being the responsive turbo-diesel in this example. It's completely unobtrusive and gives the Touareg a significant bump in fuel economy -- it's actually rated at 28 mpg highway, 4 mpg better than the Touareg Hybrid. It's 400+ lb-ft of torque would also be a boon to those who plan to tow a trailer.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
The Touareg feels like a collection of everything this company does well: high-quality interior, superb diesel power train, premium German driving dynamics. Like Jennifer, I could have sworn I was driving the smaller Tiguan with how nimble and responsive the Touareg feels. It helps that the diesel, paired with the eight-speed automatic, always feels like it's in its ideal rev-range when you step on the gas pedal. Some might argue that a sumptuous $60,000 SUV has little place in VW's American lineup, but I'd counter that it's a perfect counterbalance to the brand's push down market.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor