2008 Touareg 2 New Car Test Drive
The Volkswagen Touareg (TOO-r-egg) is a luxury sport-utility with a rare blend of highway composure, refinement and off-highway capability.
For 2008, the Touareg gets new front and rear lamps and appendages, and while the wrapper looks familiar, there are a couple of thousand new parts within. This represents a major upgrade for 2008, and it's officially dubbed the 2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2.
Like the Infiniti FX and Mercedes-Benz ML, Touareg eschews a third row of seats for generous five-passenger space in compact packaging. Touareg 2 offers a choice of V6 or V8 gas engines and a diesel, as with the Mercedes ML and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Volkswagen's diesel is the the fastest, the most fuel efficient, and the most expensive. All Touareg models use a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive.
Protected by a rigid structure and full suite of airbags and electronic safety systems, the Touareg cabin is at once inviting, involving, and efficient. There are more thoughtful touches than you'll notice at first glance, yet the learning curve is quick, the controls not daunting, and comfort remains high even after hours on the road, or off it.
Touareg 2 is a genuinely capable four-wheel-drive, and it takes to trails like Letterman to a politco's faux pas. Its combination of clearance angles, gearing, fording depth and suspension travel compares to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover LR3, Hummer H2, and Lexus GX470, and none of those offer the massive thrust of Touareg's diesel and the Jeep and Hummer don't have its adjustable air suspension.
Back on the highway the Touareg has a Teutonic feel, with smoothness imparted by precision and not softness. It cruises effortlessly regardless of road condition, and belies its heft on winding roads. A sports car it isn't, but you could make a dynamic argument for an inclement weather Grand Touring vehicle.
If you like the Volkswagen Touareg 2 but need a third row of seats at the expanse of some off-road capability, check out the Audi Q7; it uses a stretched version of the same structure.
The 2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 comes in three levels: 3.6 VR6 FSI ($39,320); V8 FSI ($48,320); and V10 TDI Twin Turbo ($68,320).
The 3.6 VR6 comes with a full slate of features, including dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, power windows and locks, heated front seats, power driver's seat, leather shifter and steering wheel with redundant controls, alarm/immobilizer, cruise control, split-folding rear seat, alloy wheels, fog lamps, trip computer, outside and oil temperature displays, aluminum accents, heated power mirrors with synchronized adjustment and right-side reverse tilt, front and rear park assist, rain-sensing wipers and heated washer nozzles, 10-speaker audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio (three-month service included), power liftgate, and six power points, including one 115-volt outlet.
The 4.2 FSI adds a 350-hp V8 engine, leather upholstery and walnut woodwork, bi-xenon curve-following headlights, more chrome trim, 19-inch wheels and more sporting suspension calibration, power passenger seat, driver memory system, power folding auto-dimming outside mirrors, rear seat side sunshades, and sliding center dual-bin armrest.
The V10 TDI comes with the twin-turbo diesel engine, power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, larger brakes and adjustable air suspension with continuous damping control.
Options include a tow hitch ($500), a rear differential lock ($700), 19-inch wheels and tires ($1200) for the VR6, and the air suspension package ($2750). Option packages start with the Lux ($2900), which brings many of the V8 upgrades (leather, wood trim, power passenger seat, AFS2 bi-xenon headlamps) to the VR6. Lux Plus ($3400) adds four-zone climate control, heated rear seats, Dynaudio sound, and keyless operation. The Technologie package ($3350) adds DVD-based navigation, upgraded 11-speaker sound system with CD changer, rear view camera, expanded instrument panel multifunction display, and auxiliary input.
Safety equipment includes rollover-sensing ESP-plus stability control, ABSPlus brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, tire-pressure monitors, Hill Descent Assist, and adjustable seatbelt anchors front and rear. Also standard are front airbags, side-impact airbags, and curtain airbags.