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VW Touareg V10 TDI – Click above for high-res image gallery

When the Volkswagen Touareg first arrived around five years ago, the SUV became the first production home to Volkswagen's then-new V10 TDI engine. However, as the old saw goes, "Time waits for no man"... or machine apparently. After a relatively short run, Volkswagen's 5.0L V10 turbodiesel is soon being consigned to the scrap heap of history. Increasingly stringent emissions requirements have meant that the V10 could only be sold in 45 states for the last two years with sales in the large market of California being verboten.

The Touareg will, of course, live on, and the TDI version will be transformed early next year into a new 50-state legal version using the same 3.0L diesel V6 that propels the Q7 we drove during the recent Audi Mileage Marathon. The Touareg itself was not only the first application for the diesel V10, it was also Volkswagen's first SUV. The architecture of the Touareg was developed in cooperation with long-time "friend" Porsche who happen to use the same platform for its Cayenne. Later, Audi popped out its own longer wheelbase variant as the Q7. Find out what it's like to live with this lame duck diesel beast after the jump.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

Volkswagen's V10 diesel first appeared in a 1999 show car called the Concept D and then later in January 2000 at the Detroit Auto Show in the Advanced Activity Concept or AAC. The AAC was a truck concept with a front half that previewed the look of the Touareg. Eventually its V10 would be used by both the Touareg and the ill-fated Phaeton luxury sedan. The twin turbocharged V10 was unusual in having an aluminum cylinder block, a rarity in diesel engines. The lower end of the block contained a cast iron main bearing carrier to hold the crankshaft with its offset crank-pins. The off-set crank is needed to provide even firing intervals with the cylinder banks spread at a 90-degree angle.

This V10 is the last new VW diesel designed with the "pumpe-duse" injection system. The pumpe-duse, or pump nozzle system, uses an individual high pressure fuel pump for each cylinder directly connected to the fuel injector. This same system is now being replaced in new Volkswagen-Audi diesel engines with common rail systems that can control fuel flow more precisely. A single camshaft sits in each cylinder head actuating just one intake and one exhaust valve per cylinder. All that hardware provides no shortage of grunt as the V10 generates 310 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, which is handy considering the Touareg has to drag around 5,800 lbs before even loading up.

Interestingly, while this V10 is the largest displacement diesel VW makes, it's no longer the most powerful. That honor goes to the 4.2L V8 TDI used by sister brand Audi in the A8 and Q7 in Europe. I had a chance to try out a Q7 4.2 TDI earlier this year over on AutoblogGreen and it was a rocket with 326 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque. Nonetheless, the Touareg V10 is no slouch. Step on the right pedal, and after a momentary delay while the torque converter gets wound up and the turbos generate some boost, acceleration comes in a rush. We didn't try out any towing, but the way this thing accelerates at any speed, connecting a 7,700-lb trailer to the Touareg is unlikely to put any significant strain on the engine.

Since the Touareg was refreshed for the 2007 model year, the V10 has also been equipped with diesel particulate filters that eliminate virtually all of the soot from the exhaust. Thanks to the ultra-low sulfur diesel that's now required in the U.S. as well, there was never any hint of smell from the Touareg. In fact, the only thing that has kept this SUV out of California for the past two years is NOx emissions. Rather than add a urea injection system to the V10, VW has instead focused its efforts on the new 3.0L V6 that's coming in the next few months.

Another area where the V10 falls short compared to more recent diesels from VW, Mercedes and BMW is noise. Vee Dub's latest common rail-equipped diesels are particularly quiet and most have a hard time detecting they are diesels. While this V10 is far quieter than diesel engines often found in heavy-duty pickups from the Detroit 3, it does still exhibit some of the traditional clatter that Americans associate with compression ignition engines. It is, however, remarkably smooth with no noticeable vibration.

Believe it or not, there is more to the Touareg than this monster engine. The vehicle itself falls firmly into the mid-size SUV category. Although slightly shorter than a BMW X5, it has similar interior dimensions to the Bimmer and Mercedes Benz ML, but is more than a foot shorter than its Audi sibling. In fact, one of the closest comparisons you can make in terms of interior volume is VW's own Passat station wagon. Aside from a two-inch advantage in shoulder room, the Touareg actually looses out to the Passat in rear leg room and cargo volume. The SUV, however, rides some eight inches higher and weighs a full 2,000 lbs more than the station wagon.

Inside the Touareg lives up to the usual high standards set by Volkswagen Group products. The Sienna leather-covered seats are comfortable, although their lower cushions are a bit flat for a VW, and the lower part of the center console has a plethora of identically sized buttons that each requires their own look to operate. Behind the transmission shift lever are pop-up knobs to select 4WD high and low range as well as controls for the differential locks to the left and ride height to the right. In between those are damper settings and stability control disable switches.

On the road the Touareg feels distinctly softer than the Audi Q7. Even with the dampers set to Sport mode, the responses are not as crisp, body roll and pitch is more pronounced and the steering feels lighter. Aside from strong acceleration, it feels like like the Touareg weighs nearly three tons. Oddly, in spite of being a foot shorter, the Touareg does actually weigh more than 400 lbs more than a Q7 TDI 3.0 V6. Most of that extra mass must be underhood because the gas-powered V6 Touareg is about 100 lbs lighter than the Q7. Wherever it is, the Touareg's mass sure makes its presence felt in inertia. The 6-speed automatic transmission, however, shifts smoothly and the immense torque of the diesel engine means it doesn't necessarily have to downshift every time you stab the accelerator.

The V10 Touareg is rated by the EPA at 15 mpg city and 20 highway. During its stay in the Autoblog Garage, it averaged 18 mpg in mostly city driving according the SUV's trip computer, which is by no means exceptional in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, for a three-ton SUV with a max tow rating of 7,700 lbs. and strong acceleration, it's not bad. When the new V6 TDI appears in a couple of months, that number should easily climb into the upper 20 mpg range.

If you don't live in California, New York or one of the other states that follow California emissions rules, you can probably still find a new Touareg V10 TDI. They don't come cheap, though. While a V6 gas-powered Touareg starts just shy of $40,000, a diesel V10 like this one will run you nearly twice as much. The $68,340 base price of our tester was also boosted to $77,880 with the addition of adaptive cruise control, the Lux Plus package (push button start stop, four-zone climate control, etc.) and the technology package (navigation, backup camera, cd changer, etc.). If you do go down this path, you'll certainly get a unique SUV with better performance, fuel efficiency and capability then either the current V6- or V8-powered gas models. Is it worth the mountain of cash you'll need to get one? Probably not, especially with a new Touareg TDI powered by VW's common-rail 3.0L diesel V6 right around the corner.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      18 mpg sounds good, even taking into account the somewhat higher cost of diesel in the US. The fuel costs should be similar to our family's first gen Acura MDX which gets an average of 16 mpg (according to our own measurements) in mixed driving and requires premium. And it's a much lighter, less powerful vehicle than the Touareg. But the MSRP is just absolutely ridiculous.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "no trucks over 3 tons" signs may actually be important to you in this thing. almost anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thank goodness. PLEASE DO replace the V10 with a more sensible, economical V6.
        • 6 Years Ago
        and the ZF 8 speed automatic
      • 6 Years Ago
      Too heavy then, too heavy now. The only thing more overweight is a Land Rover. I understand the Germans actually use these for pulling, and that the 7700# tow cap comes from a direct conversion of 3500kg, but to put that much weight behind a midsize SUV wheelbase is just foolishness.
      LS- TerraPass- is that one of those carbon credit BS things? Beleiving ones own BS is worse than just saying " I like it, so I bought it"
      • 6 Years Ago
      "connecting a 7,700-lb trailer to the Touareg is unlikely to put any significant strain on the engine."
      Fifth Gear towed a 747 with the Touareg only adding 4.3 tons of ballast. Everything else was standard, save for a hitch adapter.
      • 6 Years Ago
      5800 lbs. Goodness gracious. That's more than a Escalade (5691 lbs) and the Escalade is a much bigger vehicle.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Of course, it also smashes the Escalade for mileage. Not to mention torque.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Lol, supposed to be a comment on the thread below this one.

        Oh well, it's here now.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, we at least know it can tow a 747 if necessary.


        I'd love to have one of these if the price weren't so prohibitive. They aren't terribly common on the used market either and even those ones are priced more than a new gas model.

        I do wish they would have offered this engine in the US-spec Phaetons though.

        Considering the use of the old-tech diesel engine, achieving 18mpg city in such a heavy vehicle is pretty impressive. Wonder what they'd have achieved on the hwy?

        The figures aren't too far off from what the Hybrid Tahoe achieves(actually will likely do better on the hwy). Plus it will tow more as well, the Tahoe Hybrid 4x4 is rated at 6K lbs and the Touareg at 7700. The ML320 CDI would be a better match, it tows 7000 and is cheaper than the Touareg and also gets better mileage. I expect the 3.0 to increase the fuel economy of the Touareg though.

        I just hope they plan to price the new 3.0 TDI version similarly and not like they priced the V10.
      • 6 Years Ago
      18MPG? thats not bad at all....I get that on my Chrysler 300 v6
      • 6 Years Ago
      A friend of mine had bought a 2004 V10 diesel Touareg. While it drives like a dream, has an excellent interior and will break your neck from a dead stop punch of the throttle......it is by far the biggest piece of sh!t ever assembled.

      The Volkswagen dealer he bought it from did $28,400.00 worth of warranty repairs to it in the 3 yrs he owned it. This included the replacement of the entire top of the motor....twice. After that they replaced the entire fuel system twice and the engine management system three times.....all 10 fuel filters 3 separate times and new fuel tank. This was because VW shipped the V10's to America although they weren't capable of running reliably on US grade diesel.

      That was the engine part.

      They also had to replace the driveshaft twice as well as all four wheel bearings twice each. After that was done the transmission failed and that needed to be replaced at 24,000 miles.

      After that, it was time to change tires. So my buddy went out and bought OEM sized Continental tires only to have the rear axles warp and vibrate violently.

      Finally, the manufacturer told the dealer to blame this problem on the tires that my friend put on the vehicle....after $2,000 worth of repairs were performed. VW muscled the dealer and threatened to do an audit on his dealership if they weren't able to pass any these costs onto the vehicle owner.

      Imagine that!! VW was shipping parts for this engine to the dealers 7 days a week to keep up with the demand for work needed to repair them...yet they blatantly tell the dealer to do this.

      The dealer ended up accepting his Touareg in a fair trade for a W8 Passat Wagon (another p.o.s) and some cash.

      Buyer beware!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think your friends needs learning to drive first !!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well said MK3. Now goto school and learn how to read and write.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Touaregs are notorious, even among VWs, for reliability issues. =/ I wouldn't buy this thing even if the MSRP was $40k less.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I prefer my Touareg with a bit more W12.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Where's the 747? Awesome torque
      • 6 Years Ago
      But you are right about the 'not putting strain' comment. Thats a little off.

      With increased mass, strain is occuring on the entire drivetrain, whether the driver percieves it or not.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow, the price is a problem. I didn't realize they were so expensive.

      One person at work has one of these. It has a TerraPass sticker on it, if you can see it through the soot on the bumper (as mentioned, all California V10 TDIs predate the particulate filters).

      I'm not sure how the idea that adding a 7700lb trailer on it isn't going to add strain works. That'd more than double the weight. So it'd be like having the same vehicle without a trailer, but running on only 4 cylinders. Do you think 4 cylinders (2.0L of displacement) would strain at times to move the 5800lb vehicle? Yeah, I think so too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You're right, if you are going to carry outsize loads, you want a Diesel. Even though it is straining, it won't have to turn as much revs, so it won't seem as much like it is.

        But let's face it, with the weight to power (or torque) ratio that 14,000lbs on the V10 or 6,000 on a 2.0 (like a 2.0 TDI), the engine WILL be having to rev all the way up and work hard at times.

        So yeah, the Diesel is the way to go, but this is just stretching it too far, it's gonna show some strain at times.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think my point was that when most people say "the engine barely has to work" or "it doesn't really strain the engine" to do XYZ, what they really mean is how they are perceiving it.

        Naturally, when an engine carries more load it does more work/strain/etc. Thats true accross the board. The RPMS, noise and fuel burn are things they can perceive as more strain.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "So yeah, the Diesel is the way to go, but this is just stretching it too far, it's gonna show some strain at times."

        The towing limit of the Touareg is not out of line with other heavy SUVs and pickups. My 4600 lb 4Runner has a towing limit of 7000 lbs. A 6000 lb Sequoia has a 9000 lb towing limit.

        The Ford F150 weighs between 5500 and 6000 lbs, but can have a tow rating up to 10,000 lbs.

        Yes, acceleration and braking will be significantly affected when towing loads close to the towing limit. That is just as true of every other SUV and pickup built as it is with the Touareg.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "I'm not sure how the idea that adding a 7700lb trailer on it isn't going to add strain works. That'd more than double the weight. So it'd be like having the same vehicle without a trailer, but running on only 4 cylinders. Do you think 4 cylinders (2.0L of displacement) would strain at times to move the 5800lb vehicle? Yeah, I think so too."

        It doesn't really end up working like that.

        Stay on the boost and its far less noticable towing massive weight in a turbodiesel than in an NA gasoline engine.

        And in an automatic, you're likely to stay on the boost.

        I've towed the same boat with an F-250 Powerstroke and an F-250 Windsor of the same generation. The Windsor starts to 'lug' and slow down going through hill and valley. The diesel didn't flinch or downshift.

        Doing more work inside the diesel may burn more fuel, but it adds more air with the extra added boost. To the operator, it goes almost totally unnoticed. Might hear a little more turbo whine, but thats it.

        Doing more work inside the NA gas engine means it adds more fuel, runs rich, lugs, and downshifts to maintain speed. Very noticeable to the operator because of the lower gear and higher RPMs.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I didn't say it can't do it. I said it will be straining at times. Do you think your vehicle can exercise its max tow capacity without any straining at all?
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