2005 Volkswagen Touareg V6
The Good: Bold and smooth
style. German ergonomics. Beautiful wood, aluminum, and soft leather.
Rides great and is easy to control. This is the perfect mid sized SUV.
The Bad: Could use better
navigation system like Audi A8's. Gas mileage is a low 16 mpg average.
The Touareg is perhaps
one of the finest SUV's on the planet and one which has attracted little
attention from the large number of SUV buyers here in good ol' USA. While
sales are good, they are not on the likes of the larger number of American
SUVs we see on the roads every day. The limited number of Touareg's found
on the road can easily be witnessed in daily driving. Why has this award
winning SUV not grabbed the attention of car buyers like the Miata did?
The Touareg for 2005
offers some new features packed into an already great package. The most
important item is the increase in engine horsepower for the V6 model tested
here. Non-air suspension models also feature a slightly lower ride height
for easier entry and exit.
If you read our past
articles about the Touareg you will surely learn that this is one of our
favorite cars. This V6 has become even better with the addition of 20 more
horsepower to a total of 240 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. This engine also
makes 229 lbs-ft. of torque at 3,200 rpm. Ideally, the Touareg needs 300
horsepower to lug around its two tons of weight, if you want to have some
fun. Considering that most drivers will just commute to work and back on a
congested highway, 240 horses should be plenty. In the future watch for 300
horsepower V6 engines just as can be found in many Japanese cars today.
The ride in the Touareg
V6 is smooth and luxurious. The great feeling inside of a wide and stable
platform makes for a perfect SUV, not too large or too small. The six-speed
transmission offers more gears than competitors as well as very smooth
shifting. Push the lever to the S sport mode and you have a more aggressive
shift pattern that holds gears longer before downshifting. You can also
manually change gears by way of an up or down motion on the gearshift
overall cabin space is very good and the adjustable front powered seats are
a must have option. The rear seats offer a bit more legroom than the
comparable Porsche Cayenne but trunk space is decreased by just that much.
Xenon headlights are good, but not as bright as those in the Cayenne.
Inside a glowing instrument panel was hard to take your eyes off. The
instrument cluster alone makes you want to drive endlessly at night, with
everything glowing a wonderful white color with hints of blue and red. The
Touareg also offers more standard equipment as compared to the Cayenne, such
as dual automatic climate control and a roof rack.
with the optional air suspension offered a supremely supple feeling while
driving. For all those out there wanting to know what the Cayenne feels
like compared to the Touareg, we can surely tell you that this is a big
difference behind the wheel. The Touareg is more luxurious with softer
seats, more legroom in back, and an overall softer ride. Even setting the
air suspension into Sport mode could not delivery the firmness felt in a
Cayenne with standard suspension components. The feeling of being one with
the road and having a sense of all four tires is what the Cayenne is nearly
perfect at delivering. The Touareg on the other hand has a softer steering
response and little road feeling transmitted through the wheel.
difference felt by changing from Sport to Comfort settings in the air
suspension is very subtle. Only those driving on bumpy roads or taking
sharp corners will likely feel the difference. Set the suspension into Auto
and the car handles well all the time and keeps bumps from reaching your
seat. Nevertheless, having an air suspension will make a world of
difference if you want a car that is very smooth, much like a Phaeton
sedan. Not to mention the ability to ride from 6.3 inches to a possible
stump-jumping 11.8 inches.
Testing the Touareg in
deep snow and on slippery surfaces revealed a very competent SUV. The
standard tires are very good for most heavy snow conditions, unlike the
standard tires found on a Cayenne. The Cayenne slips and slides and cannot
make it up a bank of snow one foot deep with its standard set of tires. The
Touareg can do the job easily. The 4-motion four-wheel drive system works
very quietly and performs great. If one side of the vehicle has no
traction, the car still heads straight with no loss of power. When braking
on icy conditions, the ABS system along with the host of other electronic
safety features keeps the Touareg going straight. We were amazed at how
well the traction control system worked when we got the car loose while
driving forward on ice and snow. The system applied braking power to the
front right wheel, then the rear left wheel and kept the car going in a
straight line. It all works quickly and seamlessly without aggressive input
from the driver. This is truly a world-class automobile with world-class
safety features not found in most vehicles on the road.
Driving through deep
mud, sand, and up steep rocks also reveals an incredibly versatile SUV. The
air suspension helps The Touareg get through anything and keeps you in a
stable and comfortable vehicle at all times. Having a fully lockable
differential at the touch of a button is also a big bonus. You can do
things like rock climbing, river crossing, and mud slinging anytime you
The feeling of solidity
in the Touareg is something that is hard to match. The only SUV that
matches the tank like feeling of the Touareg is the Porsche Cayenne. Cars
like the BMW X5 and the Lexus RX do not compare at all. You feel as if you
are in a tank in the Touareg, the doors shut very solid, the large fenders,
and rounded appearance is all hinting of the strong nature of this vehicle.
Yes the Lexus has nice wood trim and very soft leather seats as well as a
better DVD navigation system and turning xenon headlamps but this is really
where it all ends. On daily driving the Touareg is a great driver's car and
you know it has been tested at the super high speeds on the autobahn,
something Lexus cannot claim. We did wish that VW would do something about
the navigation system with its old and dated looking menus and screen.
Especially when a great system is available in the Audi A8 and VW Phaeton,
why they don't the Audi system in all VW group vehicles is a mystery to us.
Ideally the Touareg would be the perfect SUV if it had available the latest
electronic gizmos like DVD navigation system, rear backup camera, turning
xenon headlights, Bluetooth telephone capability, and Voice activated
some techno wizardry could be one of the main reasons flocking SUV buyers do
not choose the VW Touareg as much as we and VW would like. The other main
reason is likely the utter lack of experience dealing with a high-end client
walking into a VW dealership. Walk into a VW dealer and the same person who
sells $15,000 Golf's is likely to great you. We would much rather have a
dedicated person sit you down, offer you food and drinks, and then take you
on a long test drive through curvy back roads as well a short off-road
course. Dealers also do not stock cars equipped with the best features
available in the Touareg. What is on the lot is usually something that most
customers do not want and ordering a car puts you in a two month wait while
Lexus dealerships usually stock a fully loaded Lexus RX with navigation
package, one of only two options available. People spending over $30,000
want a car with electronics such as navigation, as well as power seats, and
many other options found in the Touareg line-by-line.
Marketing is also
another area that VW needs help with. All I can remember about a Touareg
add is seeing a car try to jump into a pile of snow and then seeing a
Touareg fly right through it. Now that does not signify luxury or point to
the full capabilities of the vehicle. Lexus on the other hand shows
technology and refinement; even the announcers voice is 'high end'. Now VW
needs to join the luxury car party or it will never make it in this arena.
Just look at the sales of the Phaeton and you will know what I am talking
about. What are the marketing and ad guys doing over at there at VW? I
don't want to look like a geek, or a wimp, or a crazy nut screaming at other
drivers in my VW, I want to be thought of as rich, intelligent, and above
the rest in my Touareg or Phaeton.
modifications I suggest above and VW should see much improved sales, I
guarantee it. The Touareg is an amazing car with amazing safety features
and it if all SUV's on the road were Touareg's we would all be safer and
better drivers. Shouldn't we all have a car with advanced safety features
like front and side-impact airbags and a side curtain protection
supplemental restraint system that deploys head-protecting airbags to cover
side glass in front and rear. All Touareg's also come with a load
management system that automatically unlocks doors, disables the alternator,
switches off the fuel supply and all high-power electrical components and
turns on the emergency flashers when any of the airbags deploy. Now these
are things we should all have in the year 2005 and I believe that with
better marketing VW could sell millions of these cars.