Volkswagen Touareg Review
The Volkswagen Touareg is a very large SUV with a spacious cabin, a practical boot and a bang-up-to-date infotainment system but it doesn’t feel as posh inside as some alternatives
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The Volkswagen Touareg is an imposing, yet relatively affordable, alternative to the likes of the Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLE that comes with a very spacious cabin and some seriously high-tech kit.
In fact, step inside the Touareg’s interior and the first thing you’ll notice is a vast 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system on the dashboard that blends seamlessly into a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display. The central screen is larger than anything you’ll find in a BMW, Mercedes or Audi and controls almost all of the VW’s features – from the standard sat nav to the climate control.
Unfortunately, it only comes as standard on top-spec Volkswagen Touareg R-Line Tech – across the rest of the range you get a smaller 9.0-inch display without the digital dials.
Thankfully, the Volkswagen Touareg comes with a slick, minimalist cabin design that looks even more modern than the one in a Q7. A few cheap-feeling materials do let the VW Touareg down a bit, such as on the centre console and lower surfaces of the dashboard, but overall it’s still a very plush place to sit.
The VW Touareg’s excellent practicality means you won’t be worrying about a few scratchy pieces of plastic, however. There’s ample space for very tall adults in both the front and rear seats, and – besides the rather shallow tray under the armrest – all its cubby holes and storage bins are pretty generous.
Even with the panoramic glass roof fitted, there’s enough headroom for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit in the central rear seat and the VW Touareg’s wide body means three adults can fit side-by-side without fighting over shoulder room. The Isofix anchor points are a doddle to access, too, and the large rear door openings make it easy to fit a bulky child seat.
It’s not just spacious in the back seats, the Volkswagen Touareg comes with a seriously spacious boot, too. With the back seats in place, there’s more room for a few sets of golf clubs or a large baby buggy than in either the Audi Q7 or Mercedes GLE and the Touareg only lags slightly behind the capacious Q7 with them folded away. The flat floor makes it a doddle to load bulky items – such as a bike with its wheels attached – and you can even lower the Volkswagen Touareg by 4cm at the touch of a button to make it easier to lift in some heavy boxes.
Go for a top-spec VW Touareg, and you get a huge touchscreen infotainment display that looks more like it belongs in Piccadilly Circus than sitting on the dashboard of a family SUV
If you plan to regularly carry lots of heavy luggage, the VW Touareg’s 231hp 3.0-litre diesel engine fits the bill perfectly. This turbocharged V6 has plenty of grunt to pull heavy trailers or blast past slow-moving traffic. It’s impressively quiet around town and whispers along almost silently at motorway speeds. VW claims it’ll return 42.8mpg, but you can expect to see a figure in the high thirties in normal driving conditions.
Driving the Volkswagen Touareg is pretty relaxing – despite its daunting size. You get a good view out and the light steering makes squeezing through tight spaces as easy as in any large SUV. If you spend lots of time driving in town, the optional four-wheel steering is well worth paying for – it helps make the VW Touareg even more manoeuvrable by altering the angle of both the front and rear wheels to help you turn as tightly as possible.
The standard automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly and doesn’t jerk or stutter at slow speeds – such as when you’re parking. Speaking of which, the VW Touareg R-Line and R-Line Tech come with parking sensors, a surround-view camera system and even park assist features that’ll steer you into parallel and bay spaces automatically.
In addition to these creature comforts, you also get plenty of must-have safety kit that’s designed to prevent avoidable collisions. Automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and traffic-sign recognition come fitted as standard in the VW Touareg, which should help it score highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
The VW Touareg makes a stylish, spacious and safe family SUV that’s worthy of consideration over more expensive alternatives – especially if the latest tech features high up on your list of priorities.
The VW Touareg’s cabin isn’t quite as roomy as some alternatives, but there’s still room for three adults in the back and its boot is absolutely massive.
The VW Touareg’s boot is absolutely vast. In fact, short of a dinghy, there isn’t an item of sporting equipment it won’t swallow up easily.
There’s ample space in the front of the VW Touareg for you to get comfortable if you’re very tall.
There’s loads of head and legroom and the front seats come with six-way electric adjustment as standard to help you find your ideal seating position There’s plenty of adjustment in the steering wheel too, and there’s absolutely loads of leg and headroom to let you stretch out.
Pick an R-Line Tech model and you get even more supportive Vienna leather seats with 14-way adjustment and a massage function, but this feels more like the seat’s gently breathing beneath you than a full-blown massage. These seats do automatically slide back when you open the driver’s door to help you climb in and out easily.
You can get these seats fitted to other Touareg models, but they’re rather expensive so you’d be better off saving the cash and sticking with the standard leather seats instead.
There’s loads of space in the back seats, too. A six-foot-tall passenger will have loads of space to stretch out behind an equally tall driver and there’s loads of space for them to tuck their feet under the front seats.
The back seats recline slightly too, so passengers can doze off on long drives. There’s enough space to carry three adults at once, but the central seat’s raised above the outer two and there isn’t quite as much headroom as you get in an Audi Q7.
If you regularly carry much younger passengers, you’ll find it’s a doddle to fit a child seat. The VW Touareg’s back doors open nice and wide and the Isofix anchor points are easy to access once you’ve removed their protective covers. The Touareg’s huge rear windows mean kids get a good view out too, so they shouldn’t feel car sick on long journeys.
Unfortunately, you can’t get the VW Touareg with a third row of seats. You can slide the rear seats forwards and backwards as standard, however, so you can prioritise either boot space or back-seat legroom.
There’s a decent number of handy cubby spaces in the VW Touareg’s cabin. All four door bins are big enough to carry a one-litre bottle and the cupholders in the centre console are wide enough to comfortably hold a large flask.
The glovebox isn’t especially roomy and the storage tray under the huge central armrest is quite shallow, but you get a storage tray under the dashboard with a wireless charging pad for your phone as standard. There’s also a USB port and a 12V socket beside this and you get a small tray on the driver’s side for your keys.
Passengers in the back get two USB ports and another 12V socket, along with a folding armrest with two built-in cup holders. Annoyingly, these are placed in exactly the spot where you’d usually rest your arm.
The VW Touareg’s 810-litre boot is around 5% larger than an Audi Q7’s load bay and a whopping 20% bigger than the boot you get in a BMW X5.
Its wide opening and square shape make it easy to pack bulky luggage, and there’s almost no load lip to lift heavy items over. It doesn’t come with a split bootlid like the X5, but you can lower the Touareg’s ride height by 4cm in cars with adjustable suspension to make it even easy to load.
There’s room for a baby buggy to sit on its side under the load cover with enough space left over for a set of golf clubs. You can also pack two large suitcases with ease, but you’ll have to remove the load cover if you want to carry two more small suitcases. Annoyingly, there isn’t space to store this cover under the floor. You can squeeze in a few soft bags beside the space-saver spare wheel, though.
The back seats fold in a three-way (40:20:40) split so you can carry some passengers in the back and some long luggage poking through from the boot at the same time. There’s also a set of levers by the boot opening to let you fold the back seats down, but you have to push the seats down from the back doors to lock them in place.
They don’t sit completely flat, though, and there’s a slight step in the boot floor. But it’s still easy to push luggage right up behind the front seats. With all the seats folded, the VW Touareg’s 1,800-litre boot isn’t quite as big as the Audi Q7’s and BMW X5’s but there’s still more than enough room to carry a bike with both its wheels attached.
There are plenty of tether points to keep your luggage nice and secure, and you get a couple of shopping hooks to keep your groceries from rolling about. There’s also a 12V socket in the boot – ideal for when you fancy plugging in a portable vacuum cleaner and giving the boot a spring clean.
The VW Touareg is quiet and relaxing to drive and it comes with loads of high-tech driver assistance systems but you have to pay extra for the super-comfy air suspension.
You can currently get the VW Touareg with two diesel engines, although a pair of petrol units will soon be available alongside a plug-in hybrid model.
Both diesel engines are 3-litre turbocharged V6 units producing either 231hp and 286hp, depending on which model you pick. The less powerful model will accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, while the 286hp model covers the same sprint in 6.1 seconds.
Both are smooth, quiet and have more than enough punch to overtake slow-moving traffic. And, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting close to VW’s claimed 42.8mpg in either version.
Whichever version you pick, you get four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox as standard. Unfortunately, the auto ‘box is a little slow to change down when you accelerate hard, even in sports mode. It’s pretty smooth around town, though, and changes gear smoothly without any lurching at slow speeds.
The VW Touareg is a very large SUV, but you don’t sit up quite as high as you do in the likes of the Audi Q7 and BMW X5. You still get a pretty commanding view out over other cars, though, and there aren’t any particularly troublesome blind spots to worry about when you’re driving in town.
That’s not to say the Touareg’s an ideal city car – it’s still absolutely huge – but the steering’s nice and light and you can get it with a clever four-wheel steering system that makes it more manoeuvrable around town and more stable at motorway speeds. R-Line models and above also come with a reversing camera and a self-parking system to help you squeeze into tight spaces.
The standard VW Touareg’s suspension does a decent job ironing out bumps and potholes, but the optional adaptive air suspension is even more comfortable. There’s also an active anti-roll feature that helps stops the VW Touareg’s tall body leaning in tight corners – just the thing to help prevent passengers feeling car sick on twisty country roads.
Unlike most large SUVs the Touareg’s standard cruise control can operate on well-marked backroads, not just motorways. This system accelerates, brakes and even steers for you and uses a front-facing camera along with data from the sat nav to slow down when you’re approaching tight corners or junctions. On a motorway, this system lets the Touareg pretty much drive itself – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Speaking of motorways, the VW Touareg’s impressively quiet at speed. The diesel engines are nice and smooth and you won’t hear a great deal of wind or tyre noise so you can cruise along for hours on end without breaking a sweat.
It also comes with plenty of high-tech safety kit to help give you peace of mind. Automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and traffic-sign recognition all come as standard. And, the VW Touareg earned an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2018.
The VW Touareg’s minimalist interior looks great – especially with the range-topping 15-inch touchscreen fitted, but it’s let down by a few scratchy plastics and cheap-feeling trims.