It’s not a Mercury, but I can’t help but think this Touareg is a bit of a cougar. You know full well that it has received plenty of cosmetic surgery over the past decade, but it’s hard not to find the end product-especially with this monochromatic paint scheme-at least somewhat attractive. I’m not the only one, either; before I even left our parking garage, two bystanders commented on the Touareg TDI’s good looks.
To me, it’s a little funny to see smoked taillights, 20-inch wheels, and monochromatic paint on the Touareg. Despite the sporty dress-up kit, it’s still a capable off-roader. Crank up that air suspension dial to the Xtra-Plus setting; it will give you more than enough ground clearance to creep over tall curbs, small boulders, tree stumps, and other sizable obstacles. That said, these Pirelli Scorpion tires are hardly the thing for off-roading.
The V-6 TDI offers plenty of power for the 5300-pound Touareg. The diesel pulls hard, and comfortably cruises between 80 and 90 mph without breaking a sweat. Above that, however, power tends to peter out. That’s just as well — outside of the Autobahn, there are few places where one can comfortably cruise at such speeds.
If there’s one thing VW should have incorporated into this refresh, it’s the interior. In typical Volkswagen style, materials are first rate throughout, but I’m a little perplexed with the arrangement of the switchgear and displays. I’ve no idea, for instance, why the clock is placed in the overhead console. I also found two small unmarked buttons on the back of the steering wheel — one seems to trigger the heated wheel function, but the other apparently has no purpose whatsoever.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg TDI makes few concessions to the diesel SUVs from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, and starts at a price roughly $5000 less than those trucks. The 20-inch wheels on our example create a slightly cumbersome ride. I suspect that lighter wheels with a bit more tire sidewall would better suit the Touareg and might make the difference between the comfort and sport modes more apparent.
Piggybacking off Evan’s ergonomic complaints, a few interior bits are chintzy compared to what we expect from Volkswagen. The climate control temperature dials are cheap plastic with vague, meaningless detents that make the knob feel inaccurate. The seats and steering wheel, however, are fantastic. Hopefully, the new Touareg coming as a 2011 model can rectify the minor interior issues and build on the qualities that make it a desirable largish SUV.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
I was a fan of the Volkswagen Touareg TDI when it first came out until I saw the price of the enormous V-10 model, upwards of $70,000. Is VW kidding? A generation later, and a super-sized dose of reality has given buyers this ample V-6 TDI that is more affordable, economical and logical. Our test unit, still at an eye popping $59,000, is loaded to the brim with options. Check your options list carefully and you can snag one in the mid $40,000 range. But not for long as the Touareg is again changing faces as a 2011 model.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
I really enjoyed driving the Touareg. Its impressive tight turning radius made crowded parking lots and badly designed parking garages easy to navigate. Keyless system was perfect, (if only they thought to do so on the CC).
When driving at 75-80 mph on the interstate the car is amazingly smooth and silent. For that matter, the diesel engine as a whole was almost impossible to hear. At those same highway speeds with the sunroof open, the cloth deflector does a great job of minimizing the wind noise, so you can still have a conversation with your passenger.
I also want to mention the lighting on this VW. The xenon headlights are so bright, I thought at first I had the high beams on. The interior lighting makes everything visible from items on the floor to the dash, without being distracting during night driving.
It definitely has elements all other VW models mixed in-the performance of a GTI, the comfort of a CC, plus plenty of space for my baggage.
Kelly Ryan Murphy, Creative Director
For once in my life, I had genuine need for an SUV or, in this case, a crossover. Weekend duties included hauling a new mattress and a near-new lawn mower and delivering a PWC (jetski) for a colleague. In between I made quick entertainment and Sunday services trips. The turbo-diesel Toureg proved to be nearly perfect for those diverse duties.
The initial surge of the diesel’s torque lasts longer than expected. Passing slow-lane sloggers with 90 on the dial proved no issue in this machine. I was also impressed by the generally smooth, quiet murmur under the hood. Considering the 20+ mpg available here, the clean, modern diesel makes sense.
The idea falls apart when it comes time to pay the tab. Any VW that starts at $44,000-plus and pushes $60,000 when loaded is a preposterous proposition. We’re not talking a 12-cylinder Phaeton here. Until everyone’s memory is purged of the 20 million Beetles produced, there’s no hope for expensive Volkswagens.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
The two-and-a-half-ton Touareg TDI may be a heavyweight, but it never feels ponderous. The diesel engine’s abundant torque means that acceleration at any speed is available on demand, and a comparatively small turning circle means that you can maneuver in tight spaces. The two-tone interior is very well-executed, the seats are comfortable and afford a nice high seating position, and the dials for the climate control are big and easy to decipher. You may not think of the Touareg as a tow vehicle, but with a rating of about 7700 pounds, you can haul large loads with no problems. One downside is that there’s no third-row-seat option, so if you want to haul more than five people, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2010 Volkswagen Touareg V-6 TDI
Base price (with destination): $45,150
Price as tested: $59,850
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive
Center differential lock
Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control
V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces
Heated front seats
Multi-function steering wheel
Tilt/telescoping steering column
AM/FM radio w/ in-dash single CD player and MP3 capability
Sirius satellite radio
Rain-sensing windshield wipers
115V power outlet
Options on this vehicle:
Premium package — $6350
– Touch screen navigation system
– Rearview camera
– Dynaudio sound system
– Bi-Xenon HID headlights
– Keyless start/stop
Luxury limited package — $5100
– Exterior design package
– 20-inch alloy wheels
– leather seating
– heated steering wheel
4-corner air suspension — $2750
Trailer hitch — $500
Key options not on vehicle:
18 / 25 / 20 mpg
Size: 3.0L V-6 TDI
Horsepower: 225 hp @ 3500-4000 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1750-2250 rpm
6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Curb weight: 5304 lb
20-inch alloy wheels
275/40R20 106H Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires