I was going to comment on the price of the Touareg and the fact that it's encroaching on Audi Q7 territory, but after driving a BMW 535xi that costs almost $10,000 more, this VW suddenly seems like a relative bargain. Admittedly, there's probably not a lot of (if any) cross shopping between a 535xi and a Touareg, but both vehicles have all-wheel drive and a turbocharged six-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed transmission. And they return very similar fuel economy (19/29/23 for the BMW, 19/28/22 for the VW) despite the fact that the Touareg outweighs the BMW by almost half a ton. Plus, the Touareg can tow up to 7700 pounds. Credit goes to VW's TDI diesel V-6. If any engine could make Americans forget about the rattly, underpowered, unreliable diesels of the early '80s, this is it. In fact, if you put someone behind the wheel of this Touareg and didn't tell them that it was diesel-powered, I'd wager they'd never realize it until they saw the label on the inside of the fuel filler door.
Inside, materials and the way they're put together are first-rate. The large navigation screen is easy to read, and I like large, legible buttons located just below the screen for each of the functions: radio, media, phone, climate, nav, car, setup, etc. No need to fiddle with a dial, like with BMW's iDrive or Audi's MMI. Last but not least, when I got in the Touareg, the readout between the tach and the speedo said that the range was 710 miles. Surely that's not possible, I thought. But then I looked up the capacity of the fuel tank (26.4 gallons) and multiplied it by the vehicle's highway EPA mileage rating (28 mpg) and came up with 739.2 miles. Even at its city rating (19 mpg), the Touareg could travel 500 miles on a tank of fuel. Very impressive - even when you consider that, at today's prices, it'll cost you close to $100 per fillup.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor