By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 6.9
The 2017 Volkswagen Touareg is the German brand's flagship SUV, but its $50,000 starting price makes it as awkward a fit in its segment as its name is to pronounce (try "tour-egg"). Ostensibly this 5-passenger SUV is more luxurious than a Ford Edge or Jeep Grand Cherokee but not quite as fancy as a BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE or even its cousins the Audi Q5 and Q7, and Porsche Cayenne. In reality, we'd recommend just about any competitor over the Touareg. This VW SUV has much going against it beyond a high price and aging platform. The Touareg's brightest aspect -- a strong and efficient diesel engine -- is gone due to VW's emissions-cheating scandal, leaving a tired and overburdened V6 as its only motivation.
Reasons to buy a Touareg in light of far better rivals are few. But this VW does offer some premium appeal and active safety features even in its base model, and there's no arguing that it is ruggedly handsome and offers confident traction on snow and dirt thanks to its full-time all-wheel-drive system.
KBB Expert Ratings
A year after the hybrid powertrain was put out to pasture, the once-loved diesel option is gone, too, in the wake of VW's scandal. Base models get active safety features and driving aids like active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. The mid-trim Wolfsburg model replaces the Lux trim.
The Touareg has gone from potentially stout and enjoyable to feeling tired. This is due to the discontinuation of the diesel V6 engine option. That leaves only a 280-horsepower gasoline...
... V6 to move the Touareg's considerable mass -- nearly 4,700 pounds. It takes a heavy foot or switching to Sport mode to hustle the Touareg up to speed. However, VW’s premium SUV offers a commanding driving position and a firm but supple ride. This VW also remains a decent off-roader, but not to the extent of the 1st-gen models. Unlike this Touareg, the 1st-gen models offered serious hardware like air suspension, locking differential and low-range setting. This one is simplified with a dial switch to select only between "on-road" and "off-road" settings. If you want an SUV with premium appeal and an affinity for dirt, try a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Mercedes-Benz GLE with the off-road package.
AREA VIEW MONITOR
If large SUVs have a common issue it is the lack of outward visibility below the window line. Available in top-trim Executive models, VW remedies this situation by strategically mounting four cameras outside the Touareg, projecting for the driver a 360-degree view onto a color view screen.
10-YEAR/100,000-MILE POWERTRAIN WARRANTY
In an effort to turn the tide on years of perceived VW reliability issues, the company now offers a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty on every 2017 VW Touareg, although the comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranty still only covers three years/36,000 miles.
This 5-passenger SUV straddles the line between mainstream and luxury, and definitely steps up to the latter as you climb trims. Base models have fake leather; you get the real thing in the mid-trim Wolfsburg and top-line Executive edition. Rear-seat legroom is only adequate, but the front seats are plush and the cabin feels roomy. The rear seats fold and slide fore and aft to better accommodate passengers or cargo. The Touareg can swallow quite a bit of gear, but not as much as the more recommendable Mercedes-Benz GLE or even a Jeep Grand Cherokee. All models include an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system.
The Touareg remains a handsome SUV with a muscled, squat appearance. All models feature bright bi-xenon headlights, while chrome roof rails add to this sport-utility vehicle's utility. Wolfsburg and Executive models have a panoramic sunroof, and all feature a power tailgate. The Touareg has a decent ground clearance of 7.9 inches, but that's still shy of a Jeep Grand Cherokee and even a Subaru Outback, for that matter.
With this year's trim shuffle, the Touareg now goes like this: Sport w/Technology, Wolfsburg and Executive. The base Sport w/Technology model adds quite a few features this year, but it also comes with a several-thousand-dollar price increase. Now standard is a suite of safety and driving aids like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and a blind-spot monitor, which VW calls Lane Change Assistant. Also included are automatic climate control, hands-free power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel, and 8-inch infotainment system with navigation, rearview camera and 8-speaker audio system.
Stepping up to the Wolfsburg Touareg adds a panoramic sunroof and leather seating, 14-way-adjustable front seats, power rear-folding seat release, front-center armrest/console and rear-seat vents. The topline Executive model includes the overhead-view camera system, driver's memory-seat position, 10-speaker Dynaudio premium audio system and 21-inch wheels. Other options are pretty much limited to accessories.
As we've mentioned, in light of VW's emissions-cheating scandal, the formerly recommendable engine for the Touareg -- a diesel V6 -- is no longer available. That leaves the less-recommendable gasoline V6. With only 280 horsepower, this engine can struggle to move the Touareg's sizable mass. All Touaregs come with VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, and all use an 8-speed automatic transmission. At a high of 23 mpg, the Touareg isn't very fuel efficient. You can still get a new diesel SUV, but it won't be a Volkswagen. We instead recommend a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee or diesel Mercedes-Benz GLE.
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
266 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
With the Touareg's increased standard content for 2017 comes an increased price. Where last year's model started around $43,600, the 2017 Touareg begins with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $50,405, which includes destination. Mid-trim Wolfsburg models go for $53,705, while the Executive edition is $61,105. At these prices we instead recommend less expensive rivals such as the Ford Edge or its upscale sibling the Lincoln MKX, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Audi Q5 or the Lexus RX. Even luxury SUV rivals like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE aren't far off the Touareg's starting price. If you're still married to the idea of a Touareg, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid. Yet another mark against the Touareg is resale value, which isn't predicted to hold up well in the years to come.