KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/19/2012
The name is quirky (from a nomadic North African tribe) but behind the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg's badging is one of the more compelling packages in today's 5-door, all-wheel-drive (AWD) lineup. With its rigid body structure, supple suspension, strong engines and tasteful appointments, VW's Touareg provides an unusually rewarding driving experience for something called an SUV. Then fold in the traditional SUV qualities of hauling ability and all-weather security and the package becomes quite irresistible. Volkswagen's decision to add a torquey turbodiesel and an amazingly fast hybrid to the powertrain menu makes it even better. There are nine discrete model/trim combinations: Sport, Sport with Navigation, Lux and Executive packages, each available with either gasoline (V6) or turbodiesel (TDI) power, plus the Hybrid.
You'll Like This Car If...
If on-road dynamics is more important than off-road capability, today's Volkswagen Touareg makes a great choice. A rigid structure and all-independent suspension provide the composure, while a trio of available drivetrains provides fun, function and efficiency.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If your emphasis is on sheer cubic space or the ability to clear fallen timber, this isn't your cup of SUV. Check out a Jeep Grand Cherokee or 4WD Chevy Tahoe instead.
What's New for 2013
After a full redesign two years ago, the Volkswagen Touareg gets few changes for 2013. Most notable is a bump in horsepower for the TDI engine from 225 to 240. Also there are new LED taillights for the Hybrid, some redesigned wheels and a new shade of wood interior trim.
With three responsive powertrains connected to Volkswagen's 8-speed automatic transmission and 4Motion AWD, all variants of the 2013 Touareg provide a level of driving engagement rare in the SUV category. It's true the Touareg platform was developed in partnership with Audi and Porsche, but the good news is there's no evidence of dumbing down the Touareg to reflect its more modest price point. With the 3.6-liter VR6 the Touareg feels polished, light on its feet and plenty responsive, but by comparison, the flexibility of the turbodiesel and the "rush" (there's no other description) of the Hybrid are truly remarkable. The Touareg has communicative steering, a supple (albeit controlled) ride and strong brakes. With the possible exception of Porsche's Cayenne – and that's a cousin – there may be no sweeter driving experience in a vehicle marketed as an SUV.
PANORAMIC POWER SUNROOF
Volkswagen's "sky window" lets in roughly three times the light of more pedestrian sunroofs. It's standard on Lux, Executive and Hybrid models and provides a near-fishbowl environment.
10-YEAR/100,000-MILE POWERTRAIN WARRANTY
Volkswagen still has some ground to make up in the area of perceived quality and reliability, and the effort is being helped by a confidence-inspiring 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty on all three engines, including the Hybrid.
"Tasteful" best sums up the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg's cabin. The design is restrained and clean but well executed in beautiful materials. It doesn't have the intricate detailing of an Audi interior, but you can see the family connection. The seating surfaces are V-Tex Leatherette on the Sport trims, and genuine leather on Lux and Executive levels (and Hybrid), which also get wood trim. The front seats are supportive, and the 60/40 folding rear bench seat slides fore-aft and reclines. Regardless of trim level, the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg is a pleasing mix of credible comfort, expansive visibility and upscale appointments.
In a process Volkswagen described as "redesign, re-engineer (and) re-imagine," the VW Touareg shed both substantive weight and visual heft in its 2011 makeover. The end result is sheetmetal that appears both trim and urbane; the skin is pulled taut over the wheels and cabin. There are established VW design cues plus a healthy dose of athleticism. The 2013 Touareg leans toward the station-wagon end of the SUV design spectrum in terms of stance and proportions, and the theme suits it.
Notable Standard Equipment
All 2013 Touaregs feature VW's 4Motion AWD system with its adaptive front/rear torque distribution providing great stability and enhanced handling. Dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power and heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, Bluetooth with audio streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio and power outlets (one 115-volt and four 12-volt) are standard across the board. So are six airbags, traction control, stability control, hill descent assist and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Notable Optional Equipment
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 Navigation option on the Sport trim adds a touch-screen nav system, rearview camera and power liftgate. The higher trim packages – Lux, Executive and Hybrid – include features such as the panoramic sunroof, leather seating, 12-way-adjustable front seats with memory, 19-inch alloy wheels (in place of the Sport's 18s) and walnut or Vavona wood interior highlights. A rear spoiler and side steps can be added separately.
Under the Hood
Three very different engines give the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg very different personalities. The base V6 is a narrow-angle direct-injection 3.6 with a fine balance of smoothness, acceleration and fuel efficiency. The TDI turbodiesel boasts strong low-speed torque (406 lb-ft) and miserly highway fuel consumption (29 mpg, 700-mile range). The Touareg Hybrid combines an electric motor and gasoline engine, but unlike any other hybrid, that engine is a supercharged 3.0 V6 making 333 horsepower on its own. Add the electric motor's seamless urge and you have an eye-popping total rated output of 380 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is quite surprising and efficiency still excellent. Regardless of engine, all Touaregs use an 8-speed automatic transmission and VW's 4Motion full-time AWD.
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
266 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6
240 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
406 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg
3.0-liter supercharged V6 + electric motor
380 horsepower (combined)
428 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/24 mpg
With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $44,300 for a base VR6 Sport, the 2013 Touareg supports VW's value message. However, higher trim levels drive up the price in a hurry. A top-line VR6 Executive runs more than $56,000. Choosing the TDI Clean Diesel power alternative adds $3,500 to any trim. Opting for the innovative supercharged Hybrid technology costs nearly $63,000. Beyond those model/trim choices, the only other options to consider are a rear spoiler ($640), side steps ($1,400) and accessories of the cargo-net and floor-mat variety. Some of those Touareg prices push well into BMW and Mercedes-Benz territory, where premium price tags may be offset to a degree by strong resale values. Check out KBB's Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are paying for the Touareg. To its credit, the Touareg TDI is projected to fully hold its own from a resale standpoint, while Touareg's gasoline V6 and hybrid models are a few percentage points below the segment average over three to four years.