You wouldn't know by looking at it, but the new Touareg has shed a couple hundred pounds -- cue golf clap from supportive circle of portly SUVs. The new hybrid powertrain is also a big move to help curb this VW's thirst, but at first glance it appears to be somewhat less than successful. On the straight shot across I-94 coming in to Ann Arbor from the airport, I got an indicated 22 mpg, which is not any better than lots of other four-wheel-drive crossovers. Also, the regenerative brakes are touchy, the throttle response is syrupy, and the steering is nervous. Opting for one of the other available powertrains might fix two out of those three problems.
- Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
22 mpg is a damn sight better than the 18.5 the Touareg seemed to settle on during my few days of driving it. Either way, I can't imagine ponying up for the hybrid, as it's money you will never recoup at the pump. I thought the engine response was hesitant at times in accelerating, and the brakes were indeed touchy and hard to use smoothly.
On the plus side, the interior is very nice, driving position and visibility is excellent, the front seats are roomy and comfortable and there is a ton of legroom in the rear. Climbing into and out of the Toaureg was surprisingly easy for an SUV-something my wife and kids often complain about. Good-sized cargo area as well, and comes with a free day-glo orange safety vest!
- Matt Tierney, Art Director
This is a remarkably refined hybrid powertrain, aside from the non-linear brakes that my colleagues have mentioned. It's really quite pleasant to drive. However, the Touareg V6 TDI Sport, which is powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine, costs less than $50,000 and gets 19/28 mpg city/highway.
As mid-size SUVs go, the Touareg is very handsome, very refined, very comfortable, and very luxurious. There's a lot to like here. But I agree: $61,385 for this hybrid model is just silly. Get the diesel, folks.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor