2008 Volkswagen Touareg

Sam Smith
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The latter allows drivers to choose between sport and comfort settings, or default to automatic damping. The sport is on the firm side, while the comfort allows more body roll than we'd like - that's about what you'd expect, and probably not worth the extra $2750, unless you live at the end of a very windy road. Unfortunately, there's no way to dial up any heft or feel in the overboosted steering.

As is the case with most SUVs, Touareg sales have fallen hard of late. Back in the day when people were still infatuated with the idea of driving a vehicle that could go off-road - those also being the days when gas was less than two bucks a gallon - the Touareg would have been a dreamboat, smooth, plush, and powerful, yet also extremely capable. Now, however, it just seems out of date. Time to bring on Touareg 3; make is lighter, lower the ride height, ditch the hardcore off-road gear, and package in at least a kid-size third seat.

The Touareg 3, however, is still a few years off. In the meantime, Volkswagen has one more trick to breathe some new relevance into the Touareg 2. At the Los Angeles auto show in November, VW will unveil a Touareg with a V-6 diesel engine. That V-6 TDI, which meets emissions standards in all fifty states, should get much better fuel economy than any of the current offerings, although we won't know the official estimates until closer to its on-sale date in the spring. A Touareg without the heavy drinking habit would be a much more pleasant traveling companion.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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