2006 Touareg New Car Test Drive
The Volkswagen Touareg is luxurious and comfortable. It's more practical than the BMW X5 and offers better off-road capability than the BMW or the Volvo XC 90 or most other midsize sport utilities.
On the highway, the Touareg offers a firm but reasonably smooth ride, though opting for the 19-inch wheels incurs some road vibration and noise. The Touareg (pronounced 'TORE-egg') is no sports sedan, but its handling is responsive given its 5,000-pound mass.
The V8 model offers good acceleration performance, boasting 310 horsepower from the 4.2-liter V8 engine. The 3.2-liter V6 that has been used in the base model lacked the power to motivate this heavy vehicle, but a new 3.6-liter V6 is being introduced midway through the model year that promises much more power. Also available late in the model year is a powerful 5.0-liter V10 diesel engine that was not available for part of the 2005 and 2006 model years.
All models come with wonderful six-speed automatic that smoothly selects exactly the right gear for every situation. Also standard is Volkswagen's superb 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system.
The most surprising aspect of the Touareg is its stellar off-road capability. The Touareg can go just about anywhere a Jeep or Range Rover can go. Its all-wheel-drive and traction-control systems automatically apportion power to the wheels with the best grip, providing better traction and requiring less skill from the driver. Another point of credibility is the Touareg's 7,700-pound towing capability.
Its cabin is sophisticated and refined, with rich interior appointments and keen attention to detail. The controls are easy to use. The seats are firm firm, supportive and comfortable. The Touareg seats five, and there is no third row of seats available.
The 2006 Volkswagen Touareg is available in V6 ($37,320), V8 ($44,660), and V10 versions. (The new V6 is priced the same as the old V6.) All Touareg models are well-equipped.
The V6 model comes standard with leatherette upholstery, dual-zone climate control with rear seat controls, wood trim, power glass sunroof, eight-way adjustable seating, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic rain-sensor windshield wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, 17-inch alloy wheels and many more items. Cricket Leather is optional.
The V8 model adds full leather upholstery; 12-way power adjustable seating; 18-inch alloy wheels; flush-folding, auto-dimming outside mirrors with memory; and other luxuries. Dual chrome-tipped exhausts and chrome trim on the door sills add to the V8's uptown appearance.
Options include a new DVD Navigation System, a rearview camera, park assist, an outside rear spare tire carrier, Nappa leather trim, Myrtle or Vavona wood trim or chrome trim, special carpeting, upgraded sound systems, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, Keyless Access, a power adjustable steering column, power adjustable front seatbelts, memory functions, and a trailer hitch. A 4-Corner air suspension is available, along with a rear differential lock, four-zone Climatronic air conditioning, tire pressure monitoring system. A winter package is available with a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a ski bag. Summer performance tires on 19-inch alloy wheels are optional.
Safety features on all Touaregs include a sophisticated permanent all-wheel-drive system, an electronic stability program (ESP), adaptive torque distribution. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and emergency Brake Assist are standard. Also standard: a set of low-range gears, a locking center differential, and automatic hill-decent control. A locking rear differential ($550) is available for all models. The rearview camera can help the driver spot objects and children behind the vehicle when backing up.
Passive safety features that come on all models include front airbags, side-impact airbags (for torso protection), and curtain airbags (for head protection in a side impact or rollover). Touareg surrounds occupants with a carefully engineered safety structure with a rigid roof designed to protect them in a crash or rollover. Touareg earned a four-star rating from the federal government (NHTSA) in its frontal crash test and a five-star rating (the highest) in its side-impact tests. Touareg senses when an accident has occurred and automatically unlocks the doors, disconnects the battery, and turns on the warning flashers. Add optional OnStar ($699) and an operator will be alerted to send out the safety crews. Most important to safety are seat belts, which should always be worn, and Touareg comes with three-point belts for all passengers including the rear-center position; the front seat belts are equipped with force-limiters to reduce injuries, while the rear belts have tensioners to enhance their effectiveness.
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