Low-cost, basic, rugged, reliable transportation was the idea.
Boy, how times have changed.
Nothing basic – or low-cost for that matter – about VW’s elegant, luxurious Touareg sport-utility. And nothing basic about our Touareg Hybrid test vehicle, with its supercharged V-6 gasoline engine paired with an electric motor for additional oomph.
The jolt of volts contributes to the V-6’s output, adding up to a healthy 380 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque for effortless acceleration around town and on the highway.
This makes the Hybrid the quickest of the Touareg family, as well as the most expensive, but there’s little payoff in fuel economy, unusual for a hybrid. For better fuel economy and a lower price, check out the diesel-powered model. Its 29 mpg highway rating trounces the Hybrid’s 24, and still offers impressive performance.
The Touareg delivers a generous dose of luxury, Volkswagen style. At first glance, the restrained cabin design seems to lack the pizzazz of its German competitors, such as BMW’s X5, Mercedes-Benz’s M-class and Audi’s Q-series.
But the Touareg’s innate goodness gradually reveals itself in numerous ways, from the premium interior materials, flawless assembly and superb seating both front and rear, to the well-located and -designed controls and switchgear that operate with precise, pleasantly weighted action.
Under way, the beefy SUV tracks confidently along the highway, with pleasantly low road and wind noise and a composed ride quality. Considering the vehicle’s 5,100-pound weight, turns are taken with agreeable verve, abetted by the precise, linear steering.
Overall, the Touareg displays a vaultlike solidity that simply smacks of quality. The weighty doors shut with a muffled thud. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts up or down with seamless precision.
Add all those sensations together, and the sum total is unpretentious luxury.