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2004 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI Diesel 

In the time that the Volkswagen Touareg has been on the market in the US, it has sold very well and has won many awards.  The Touareg redefines how a SUV should handle and how it should feel inside as well.  For this summer, VW introduces a Touareg powered by a V10 diesel engine, offering the fuel economy of a large car and more power than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.  Now perhaps you can have it all, supercar power, a roomy interior, vault like build quality, and good gas mileage. 

The Touareg is muscular and compact on the exterior; it has a solid stance like Mike Tyson ready to punch.  The large fenders and flared front hood adds to the muscular appearance.  The rear end is round and large, equally as impressive as the front.  The overall length of the Touareg is tidy, much like a small station wagon, but it definitely has height, and the tall cabin sitting high off the ground definitely signals that this is a off road vehicle. 

A large front grille with a monster sized VW badge complements the many air intakes to keep the large V10 breathing under the hood.  Fog lamps are located very low on the front bumper to light up the road in front of you very well.  The rear end discreetly notifies passers-by that this is no ordinary Touareg with small lettering "V10 TDI".  This Touareg also features parking sensors in front and back but here they are located well below the painted bumper hidden quite nicely, we appreciated that.  Large 18-inch tires with very large 255 tires look bold all around.  Chrome trim is used extensively on the outside as well making for a solid well built look.  Body parts fit extremely well and gaps are very small on all exterior parts.  The one thing we did not like was the large wheel gap while in the auto height position.  You will also appreciate the inward curve along the bottom sides of the Touareg so your pants do not get wet while getting out, as well as the downward facing light under each rearview mirror to light your path. 

The interior of the Touareg is functional, elegant, and refined.  We immediately noticed the solidity of the vehicle.  The door is heavy, the brushed aluminum trim is genuine, wood inserts are gleaming, the Nappa leather soft, the upper dash is fitted so well, even the textured headliner looks and feels very good.  You will find stitched leather used abundantly on the door panels as well.  VW has been recognized by many for making the interior of the Touareg better than anything its competition can offer and it still stands, here in mid 2004.  With the Touareg VW puts to shame not only US and Asian manufacturer's but also other German manufacturer's.

The interior of the V10 Touareg is chop full of gadgets, most of which are options on the base V6 model.  Front seats are powered with three-position memory for both seats, something that is rarely found in any vehicle.  Dials for the differential lock are located in the center console.  Air suspension with automatic, sport, and comfort settings is easily adjusted with a dial here as well.  Finally automatic height adjustment as well as a dial for manual lowering and raising of the vehicle for loading or off road conditions is located here also.  The steering wheel is also powered for movement in all four directions.  The large dash holds a screen for vital functions such as navigation, and stereo.  The instrument cluster gleams in chrome trimmed rings as if on a yacht and also contains a large information screen.  Large dials for climate control allow you to control not only front driver and passenger temperature, but also individual rear seat climates; yes there is a four-zone climate system available as an option.  The rear climate controls actually work as they should and you can control airflow electronically from under the front seats, to the center vents in the console, to vents at face level in the pillars on the door. 

The interior of this Touareg V10 is full of great small features to make driving easy.  Both front windows feature easy one touch up and functions.  The steering wheel is large and wrapped in sumptuous leather.  It is also loaded with buttons for stereo, trip computer, and cruise control all in an easy to use manner.  The steering wheel is also heated with a touch of a small button to the side of the wheel.  Everything from trip computer to navigation directions can be found on the large screen located inside the instrument cluster.  However temperature controls are located below this screen for quick operation.  A rain sensor controls wiper action in changing rain conditions.  GPS navigation works well and gets the job done using a multi CD based system.  The rear windows also feature shades to help block the sun.  Storage compartments are located in the deep glove box, in the center console armrest, and under the front passenger seat, they are all very well made, not flimsy or cheap.  Doors also have thin storage areas and the rear compartment has a folding armrest with trunk pass through.  Electronic parking assistance sensors are also located around the front and rear of the Touareg with sound and light displays inside.  We also liked the large amount of power outlets to plug in all your gadgets.  Small buttons on the exterior door handles allow you to lock the Touareg with your key in your pocket.  Pulling the handles also allows you to open the doors automatically.  We thought that without being able to turn on the engine as well without the key, this feature was useless.  Heated self-dimming exterior mirrors which fold flush are standard.  Washer nozzles are also heated.  Front and rear floor mats are standard.  The front armrest also slides to fit all arm lengths. 

One thing that we must mention about the interior is that the V10 model is not as distinctive as we would have wanted.  The only item to let you know you are driving this large engine is the V10 lettering on the gearshift lever.

The CD changer is located in the trunk, which is a difficult location when others place them in the unit itself or in the glove box. We prefer an Apple Ipod with FM tuner in any case.  The automatic temperature setting worked well in the Touareg, the system was quiet and very cold in the summer heat.  A roof rack is adjustable and of very high-end quality.  It can be placed all the way back as a spoiler or can be moved to hold cargo.  The rear seats also flip down for a flat large cargo floor, however it is difficult to first pull out the bottoms and then fold down the backrest.  Headrests also must be removed from the rear seats before folding them.  It all takes a bit of time and is tiresome.  Cargo room is 32.3 cubic feet with the seats up, and 70.9 cubic feet with the seats down. 

At night the Touareg is simply gorgeous.  Take a look at some of the pictures we have showing you the instrument cluster and overall lighting inside.  There is adjustable foot well lighting, as well as nice touches of blue, red, and white, together with the chrome it all just looks magnificent.  Lighting outside is also wonderful with rearview mirrors providing light below them as you walk up to the door.  Bi-xenon lights worked very well in our model casting a very bright light far down the road.  They do not turn and bend with the road as on other new models we have tested however.

Improvements we would like to see would be perforated leather seating and gathered leather on the door inserts.  We would also like to see the central console have wood instead of the black plastic trim.  In this high end V10 model we want an alcantera headliner and leather roof grab handles.  Seats were also a bit hard after long drives and do not adjust so that you can sit in a cradle position.  We would like more comfortable seats that have longer bottoms for better leg support.  It would be nice to if they had air ventilation as well as the standard heat functions.

            The multi CD based navigation system worked well but looks archaic compared to the Audi A8 system we tested earlier this year.  We don't know why VW would not use the Audi system in this new vehicle.  The system has minor issues such as not showing street names on the main navigation window.  There was no way to input a detour if you are stuck in traffic, or none that we could find easily at least.  With all the road construction on highways it would be a nice time to have telematics built into the navigation system.          

Performance is what most buyers will be looking for when buying the V10 Touareg.  Compared to V6 model, which makes 220 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque, and the V8 model, which makes 310 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque, the V10 engine is a full 5.0 liters making 310 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.  This torque and the large smooth engine makes the Touareg V10 a very muscular vehicle to drive.  Turn the key and the engine comes to life in a cat like purr.  There is no roar or exhaust grumble as on the V8 model.  Get on the highway and you will find the engine easy to control.  Power comes on smooth and then increases very rapidly, you will be pushed back into the seat and you will have a smile on your face. 

The V10 moves this Touareg easily with power that feels like a train rushing forward.  Gear changes are not felt at all as you climb to high triple digits.   The six speed tiptronic transmission is liquid smooth.  You can change gears yourself by moving the shift lever to the right and using the up or down motions to paddle through the gears.  High speeds come very fast, and effortlessly, as in the W12 Phaeton we tested recently.  It is quite fun to have this much power in your control and it is best used if you have a large private track where you can fully use the 553 lb-ft or torque.  This much free flowing power is sure to hurt your pocket book with speeding tickets, and it will definitely spoil you. 

The full time four-wheel drive 4xMotion system keeps all wheels planted very nicely.  When driving of on hills, you can release the brake and the Touareg will be actively braked and held.  On steeply declining stretches of more than 20%, an automatic downhill assistant is available.  It is activated when the speed has been reduced to a crawl and ESP is switched on.  If the driver does not apply the accelerator with the car in gear, the Touareg holds a constant speed via braking and rpm reduction in shove mode.  The Touareg's commanding climbing capability is not its only mark of off-road excellence.  Its maximum lateral inclination is 45.  With a door-seal system designed to keep water out, waterproof headlights and connectors, a special guide for the intake air and engine ventilation, as well as sealed jointed shafts, the Touareg can ford deep waters easily.   The ramp angle for driving over a crest is 27.2.  Thanks to the short front and rear body overhangs, the angle of slope is 33.2.  And even the defining measurement of off-road performance, the ground clearance, promises commanding off-road handling at up to 12 inches.  A differential lock helps you send power to the wheel that needs it.  Locking the center differential allows you to send up to 100% of the power to the axle that has the most traction.  A rear differential lock can send that power to one wheel as well. 

The ride of the Touareg is amazingly stable.  The Touareg has a heavy solid feeling, as it should weighing in at over 6000 pounds.  Steering feel is excellent, much like a sports car due to the standard servotronic power steering on the V10 model.  The ride is adjustable electronically by way of a dial in the central console.  Pick from sport, to automatic, to comfort settings.  We found the comfort settings to absorb most road bumps easily with a nice hush, however this setting raises the vehicle a bit and then body lean in turns is significant.  At highway speeds the automatic setting works well and keeps body sway very low.  If you want a firm and flat ride, the sport setting is for you, it also lowers the ride height just a bit for better control.  We liked the sport setting most with its firm ride and very low body sway for daily on-road driving.  Bumps are felt like short thumps and there is no "American Car Bounce" or ACB as we like to call it.  When driving faster than normal, the Touareg will automatically lower itself to provide better stability.  In "load level", the Touareg can be lowered to 6.3 inches off the ground for a very car like body height. 

The ride position is that of a large SUV, quite high off the ground, and can be raised if you want to compete with the Hummers on the road.  Braking is another strong point, with large powerful discs all around and a solid even pedal feel.  It is simply excellent at stopping with a very small amount of body dive.  At high speeds we also found that wind noise is a bit high emanating from the front pillars.  The Touareg has a long list of electronic aids: electronic brake force distribution, antilock braking system, engine braking assist, hydraulic brake assist, anti slip regulation, electronic differential lock, and electronic stabilization program.  All this is sure to help you in many off road as well as on-road conditions.

Gas mileage averaged 20 mpg for us on mostly highway driving.  Compared to other Touareg models, the V6 states it will deliver 15/20-mpg city/highway.  The V8 states 14/18 mpg and this V10 model officially delivers 17/23 mpg.  We tested the vehicle in full city driving where we got about 17 mpg and in full highway driving we only achieved 19.8 mpg over long distances.  Perhaps we were going a bit too fast?  Expect the 20-mpg we averaged in making your buying decision. 

            Safety is also top notch with front, side, curtain front and rear airbags.  A tire pressure monitor also keeps you informed of the need for air.  Onstar is also offered for live assistance.  A basic warranty for four years and 50,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance is standard.  No maintenance plan to cover oil changes is there however.

The price of our model starts at $57,800.  Our model featured the Premium Package which includes navigation system, convenience package, Nappa leather trim and upgraded wood inside, as well as a CD changer for $3,800.  The four-zone climate system was $1,200.  Electronic parking assistance sensors are $600.  The heated steering wheel and heated rear sets and ski bag all in the winter package costs $600.  The rear differential lock was $550.  These options with a destination charge of $615 makes the as tested price come to $65,165. 

Overall the power and ride of the Touareg is intoxicating.  The V10 TDI engine delivers in muscle and smoothness as well as being relatively thrifty for gas.  The diesel clutter found in other VW's is not found in this large V10 engine, it is more like a loud gas engine.  Inside the ride is far superior to other SUV's on the road and the interior is elegant, refined, and bold.  If all SUV's on the road were Touaregs, the world would definitely change, along with the drivers.  VW has a very good web site for the Touareg, click here.



Base Pricing 52,315 57,800
Destination 615 615
Convenience Pkg  Driver's Door Entry System Keypad, Front Seats & Steering Wheel Memory & Power Tilt & Telescoping Steering Wheel. 751 850
Navigation/Sound System Pkg II  6-Disc CD Changer 2,341 2,650
Premium Plus Pkg Includes Navigation/Sound System Pkg II, Convenience Pkg, Nappa Leather Seat Trim, Wood Interior Upgrade, Bi-Xenon Headlamps, 4-Corner Air Suspension & Silver Luggage Rack. 3,356 3,800
Winter Pkg  Heated Rear Seats & Steering Wheel & Ski Sack. 530 600
Air Conditioning, 4-Zone 1,060 1,200
Park Distance Control 530 600
Wheels, 19" Alloy 1,060 1,200


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