By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
If a buyer can move beyond this SUV's moniker (derived from the North African Tuareg tribe) he or she is 90 percent of the way there. Behind the 2012 Volkswagen Touareg's badging is one of the more compelling packages in today's 5-door, all-wheel-drive menu. With its rigid body structure, supple suspension, careful assembly and tasteful appointments, VW's Touareg provides an offering similar to that provided by Porsche's Cayenne, but in (perhaps) a 911 vs. 911 Turbo context. VW's package emphasizes competence and (relative) affordability, without diminishing quality or efficiency.
If an on-road dynamic is more important than off-road capability, today's Volkswagen Touareg is one of the better choices in the marketplace. A rigid structure and all-independent suspension provide the composure, while a trio of available drivetrains provides both fun and functionality.
If, in selecting an SUV or crossover, your emphasis is on cubic volume or the ability to clear fallen timber, this isn't your cup of SUV. For you, there's a Jeep Grand Cherokee or 4WD Chevy Tahoe. The Touareg takes proper care of passengers and cargo, but not excessive care.
When introduced to the U.S. for the 2004 model year, the VW Touareg aspired to be a do-everything SUV. In its newest iteration, the Touareg has shed 300+ pounds (which included dumping a lo-range transfer case) and is now tailored for on-road, all-season comfort and composure. Rarely will you find a better balance of virtues in something characterized as an SUV.
Driving Impressions With three responsive powertrains connected to Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic transmissions, all variants of the 2012 Touareg provide a level of driving engagement rare in the SUV/crossover...category. Given that the Touareg platform was developed in partnership with Audi and Porsche that shouldn't come as a surprise, but there's no evidence of dumbing down the Touareg to reflect its more modest window sticker. We enjoyed the light, more "flickable" feel of the standard 3.6-liter VR6. With the 3.6 as a baseline, the flexibility offered by the diesel, and the "rush" (there's no other descriptive) of the hybrid are truly addictive. All Touareg variants enjoy communicative steering, a supple (albeit controlled) ride and positive braking response. With the possible exception of Porsche's Cayenne we can't remember a more positive driving experience in a vehicle marketed under the SUV descriptive.
PANORAMIC POWER SUNROOF
North Africa's Tuareg tribesmen must enjoy expansive skies and vistas. Why else would Volkswagen equip their vehicular namesake with a "sky window" allowing roughly triple the amount of light found in more pedestrian sunroofs? The sunroof (standard on both Lux and Executive trims, as well as the Hybrid) provides driver and passengers with an almost fishbowl environment. The light show would be difficult to duplicate in any vehicle save (perhaps) Volkswagen's Deluxe Microbus or a Greyhound Scenicruiser.
10-YEAR/100,000 MILE POWERTRAIN WARRANTY
Volkswagen has considerable ground to make up in the area of quality, reliability and customer satisfaction. It appears – based on consumer-satisfaction surveys – the company is making significant headway in all three, and nothing injects more confidence into consideration than a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. As Volkswagen's literature puts it (in the large print), if "something goes wrong with the engine, the transmission or the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, VW has you covered."
No mud should be slung within the interior environs of the 2012 Touareg. But should you sling it, the V-Tex leatherette (the people's seating surface) is a cinch to clean – and it's standard in both Sport and Sport w/Nav trim levels. Opt for the Lux or Executive levels, and the interior furnishings are covered in "Vienna" leather and walnut, with metallic trim surrounds. Regardless of the trim package you opt for, the 2012 Volkswagen Touareg is a viable mix of credible comfort, expansive visibility and upscale appointment. The front seats are supportive, and the rear bench splits 40/20/40.Exterior
In a process Volkswagen describes as "redesign, re-engineer (and) re-imagine," the 2012 VW Touareg sheds both substantive weight and visual heft. The end result is sheet metal that appears both trim and urbane. The current Touareg occupies a footprint that is both (slightly) wider and longer when compared to its first-generation. The end result tilts toward the station "wagen" end of the SUV/crossover spectrum, embodying both established VW design cues and a healthy dose of athleticism.
All 2012 Touaregs feature VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive system. With a center-mounted Torsen limited-slip differential, the power to the front/rear wheels is split 40/60, providing both optimal stability and enhanced handling. On a series of rain-dampened roadways in Northern California, we found the Touareg both planted and nimble. And given its global mission, we'd give a nod to dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power heated front seats and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Performance enthusiasts can enjoy the 2012 VW Touareg in one of three ways. And while the standard 3.6-liter DOHC VR6 is entertaining, those wishing to combine their fun with efficiency can embrace either the 3.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel or supercharged hybrid. The diesel delivers 225 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, along with a combined EPA estimate of 22 miles per gallon. The hybrid, introduced in 2011, is one part Audi (3.0-liter V6) and one part Prius, providing a combined 380 horsepower, 425 lb-ft of torque and an EPA estimate of 21 miles per gallon. With prodigious torque, both the diesel and hybrid Touaregs provide a grin in stop-and-go driving that, frankly, never stops.
The 2012 Volkswagen Touareg's underlying proposition is to provide a sense of balance in environments rarely offering it. Those vehicles intended for urban duties often fall woefully short when venturing out onto the open road, while family cruisers often seem clumsy when running the in-town errands. VW's Touareg, in any of its three drivetrain configurations, can take on whatever the daily grind – or annual road trip – is prepared to dish out, and does it in a relaxed, confident and (surprisingly) efficient manner.
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
265 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
225 horsepower @ 3,500-4,000 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28
3.0-liter supercharged V6 + electric motor
380 horsepower (combined) @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
425 lb-ft of torque (combined) @ 3,000-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/24
With a well-equipped base price of under $45,000, the 2012 Touareg is fully appropriate to VW's increased emphasis on value. Notably, the TDI Clean Diesel requires but a $3,500 surcharge. Climb up the option ladder, however, and you can quickly move from VW's humble origins to BMW and Mercedes-Benz zip codes. In mid-level lux form, the standard V6 Touareg is closer to $50K, while the fully-laden Hybrid is over $60K. Of course, one can spend well over $80K for mid-sized SUVs from BMW (X5) or Stuttgart (M-B M-Class), but those higher prices are supported by elevated resale levels. To its credit, the Touareg TDI is projected to fully hold its own from a resale standpoint, while Touareg's gas V6 and hybrid models are a few percentage points below the segment average over three to four years.
By Chappy (RI) on Wednesday, October 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "efficient 700mi+ range, quality interior, towing"
Cons: "pricey, front seat does not fold flat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was looking for a new vehicle that could handle a decent towing capacity (my boat and trailer combined are 6800 lbs), but also was nice enough to carry clients around and was efficient. The Touareg has done all of this and more, exceeding my expectations almost all the time. I will regularly get 31 mpg on the highway @ 70 mph on Cruise control and 32/33 highway @ 70/75 mph not on cruise control. It tows beautifully giving me an honest 16/17 mpg with 6800 lbs behind. Interior quality and fit and finish are great, I frequently get comments that it's the nicest Volkswagen people have seen. Having had the truck now for 37,000 miles, I've only had one major annoying issue, an Oxygen Sensor, that was replaced twice early on. Otherwise it's been great! It's an expensive vehicle, but rewarding and fun to drive...I just wish it sounded more like a diesel!"
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Houseboater (OK) on Thursday, May 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mileage, excellent towing ability"
Cons: "A little bumpy on rough roads at slower speed."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the TDI Sport with navigation after looking at the BMW X5 diesel and the Audi and Porsche Cayenne. I have been very impressed with the comfort, interior sound level and towing capacity. I can hardly believe that a vehicle capable of 30+ MPG can have a 7700 lb towing ability. That is 1200 more than the Tahoe I traded in and it only averaged 18mpg hwy. Running at 75mph I get 29 mpg and in town I average 24mpg. After 10,000 miles it has been flawless."
12 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Nemo (NY) on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,300overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great MPG for an AWD 5.9K lbs SUV; Comfortable"
Cons: "A bit pricey"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"It has been great so far. It has a solid footing when cornering, although you can feel it is a SUV. But better than others that I have driven so far. Very comfortable interior. Mileage on my TDI is been good, 27 MPG on approximately 85% highway drive. Too soon to provide any valuable feedback on its reliability, but I am hopping is as good as it's look and feel."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Dan on Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,600overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The TDI Diesel is not worth it. People are inflating their vehicle's mileage. If you actually drive this SUV the way everyone does in real world conditions, you're not going to get the ridiculous 30-35 mpg that some people say they get. I've averaged about 23-24 mpg (Mid-High teens in the city / High 20s on the highway) with my Touareg TDI. That's good for a sports utility, and slightly better than my previous gasoline Touareg, but you have to remember that this vehicle stickers for several thousand more than a gas powered VW Touareg, costs more to fuel, and costs much more to maintain and repair. You'll save a few hundred dollars at the pump , but you are just going to spend thousands of dollars for everything else. You're just better off with a gas engine."
22 people out of 38 found this review helpful
By Aaron (GA) on Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Diesel Mileage, Power, Fun, Sporty, Luxurious,"
Cons: "Sound system"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have the 2013 Touareg TDI Lux with about 2,500 miles on it. First off, I love it so far. I was in the market for the ML350 and the Audi Q5/7 and I chose this one and I am glad I did. Better mileage, panoramic sunroof, real leather standard, easier to use navigation and touch screen, memory seats, HD Lights....etc...It blows the other two vehicles away with the Lux Package and is still cheaper. The Mercedes would have been more than 10-15 grand more and they had no selection. The diesel is the way to go, it is awesome to drive. Can't really say anything bad about it so far except the sound system could be a little better, no big deal though. Awesome vehicle....Recommend to everyone!"
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By tom (FL) on Thursday, February 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 560overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "so quiet, and yet so powerful"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Hard to believe this suv is real, so powerful yet so quiet, and the milage the diesel gives you is true bonus"
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful