Review: Volkswagen Touareg (2018)
Luxurious and sophisticated interior. Massive levels of storage. Excellent ride quality on air suspension. Fully digital cabin is a tour de force.
Most of the smart tech costs extra. Only marginally cheaper than the Audi Q7. Sluggish and indecisive eight-speed auto gearbox. Not a seven-seater.
Volkswagen Touareg (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £42,254, brokers can source from £41,097
- Contract hire deals from £368.40 per month
- On average it achieves 90% of the official MPG figure
The Volkswagen Touareg might lack the prestige of the Audi Q7 and Range Rover Sport, but it does tick all of the luxo-barge boxes, while also adding cutting edge tech and limo-like space to the otherwise familiar large SUV formula.
The soft ride quality and spongy handling is unlikely to set many pulses racing, but the Touareg is a comfortable and laid-back thing to while away an hour or two on the motorway. The hushed cabin, for example, does a great job of isolating passengers from the outside world while the optional all-wheel steering system gives the Touareg an impressive nimbleness at low speeds.
The light-footed nature of the handling is made all the more impressive by the fact that the third-generation Touareg is Volkswagen’s largest ever family car, stretching more than five metres long and two metres wide.
That considerable roadprint has allowed Volkswagen to pack warehouse-like space into its large SUV. Admittedly, it might not have the seven-seat flexibility of the Q7, but the Touareg provides generous levels of head and legroom for up to for five adults. It also gets one of the largest boots in its class, with 810 litres.
The Touareg's party piece is the digital cockpit, which gives the dashboard the high tech appearance of an executive airliner. High spec models get a flowing one-screen design that blends the instrument binnacle and infotainment screen into a large HD display. Not everyone will welcome the transition from physical switches and dials to touchscreens, but the system is state of the art and easy to master, with a drop down menu providing instant access to all of the ventilation, media and in-car settings.
The engine line-up is limited to a single 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 231PS or 286PS. Both are linked to a slow witted and stuttering eight-speed automatic tiptronic transmission that, at times, comes mighty close to ruining the Touareg's drive.
All versions are capable of towing 3.5 tonnes when hooked to a braked trailer and the ball neck of the towing bracket smartly extends and retracts from the vehicle floor at the push of a button. A full suite of off-road driving programmes are also fitted as standard, which means horsebox owners and caravaners can tackle wet or muddy fields without fretting about getting bogged down in a muddy flurry of wheel spin.
The Touareg doesn't move the large SUV segment forward, but it is a significant improvement over its predecessor when it comes to handling, practicality and tech. Sadly its best features - four-wheel steering and the digital dash - cost extra and that leaves this Volkswagen with an unpalatable, Audi-like price tag.
What does a Volkswagen Touareg (2018) cost?
Buy a used Volkswagen Touareg from £21,498
Volkswagen Touareg (2018): What's It Like Inside?
The cabin is the undeniable highlight of the third-generation Touareg, with the wider and longer body providing more space for passengers and luggage compared to the second-gen model. There's still no seven seat option, but boot space is plentiful with 810 litres with the rear bench up.
The Touareg will easily accommodate five large people and the rear seats can be retracted by 160mm, while the backrests can be titled back up to 21 degrees to allow even the tallest of adults to stretch out and relax over a long trip.
The wide doors makes getting children in and out a doddle. The boot has a useful 1030mm load length to the rear seats, while the 1070mm width between the wheelarches will make it easy to load a child's buggy.
The talking point of any journey will be the fully digital dashboard, but this is only fitted as standard to high spec models. It's a smart bit of kit, with a sweeping 15-inch touchscreen that flows seamlessly to the bright and easy to use digital instrument binnacle.
The system can appear a little daunting at first, but it's surprisingly easy to master thanks to a drop down menu that provides one-press shortcuts to all of the in-car controls.
The digital binnacle can be customised to show maps, route directions and off-road driving settings. The steering wheel also gets touchpad controls for audio and maps, allowing the driver to make adjustments with a simple swipe of the thumb.
If the idea of doing away with the traditional push buttons for heating and ventilation sounds like a dystopian hell, traditionalists can opt the entry-level Touareg. It still gets a 9.2-inch central touchscreen, but includes plastic buttons for all of the basic operations. As with many vehicles in the Volkswagen range, full smartphone connectivity is included, with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It might not share the same badge appeal as the Q7 or Range Rover Sport, but the Touareg matches its rivals for quality and comfort. In our view, only the XC90 nudges ahead on plushness. Engine, road and wind noise are all well-suppressed though and the build quality is solid throughout. Only the lower door plastics have a harsh, cheap feel.
Standard equipment from launch:
SEL gets 19-inch alloy wheels, dynamic chassis control, steel space saver spare wheel, 4Motion four-wheel drive, LED headlights, LEAD rear lights, roof rails, LED interior lighting, leather seats and steering wheel, heated front seats, 9.2-inch touchscreen navigation, DAB audio, Volkswagen Car-Net, climate control, mood lighting, first aid box, auto dimming rear view mirror, electric door mirrors, rain sensor wipers, adaptive cruise control, front assist, lane assist plus parking sensors front and rear.
R-Line adds 20-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, R-line body styling kit, electric luggage compartment cover, heated R-Line steering wheel, electric tailgate, park assist and a rear view camera.
R-Line Tech includes Digital cockpit, 15-inch colour touchscreen, keyless entry and start, electric front seats, high beam assist and R-line rear seats.
Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Touareg (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Volkswagen Touareg (2018) like to drive?
Like its large SUV rivals, the Volkswagen Touareg is a family car that prioritises comfort and refinement over handling and fun. Large, softly-sprung and redundant of any meaningful feedback via the pedals or steering wheel, the Touareg is the very embodiment of the phrase ‘luxo-barge’. And to be fair to Volkswagen, this is exactly what its buyers want.
Designed to waft over the motorway miles in in hushed comfort, the Touareg injects a calming tranquillity to the otherwise hectic commute or school run. Indeed, road and wind noise are barely audible at motorway speeds, while the 3.0-litre V6 emits just a distant rumble when pushed along.
Despite its gargantuan size, the Touareg feels surprisingly light footed at slow speeds - the optional four-wheel steering giving it the same turning circle as a Volkswagen Golf. This means it's easy to guide this large SUV into a parking bay or driveway. There is also lots of driver friendly tech to help you along too, with front and rear parking sensors and an automated parking system that will automatically control the steering when it comes to a parallel space or bay.
The Touareg runs on coil springs as standard, but our test drives have been limited to models fitted with the optional air suspension. The system is refined and comfortable, with a smooth ride quality that irons out all but the harshest of road surface. The air suspension also has a useful 'load level' setting, which lowers the car by 40mm to make it easier to lift out suitcases or bulky items.
The diesel-only engine line-up consists of a 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 231PS or 286PS, with both returning an official 42.8mpg and 173g/km of CO2. The 286PS unit delivers 600Nm of torque and can hit 62mph in just 6.2 seconds, but the Touareg is far from dynamic. The overpowered steering makes it difficult to build confidence and find the vehicle's limits, while the stuttering eight-speed automatic gearbox provides regular remainders that this is an SUV that doesn't like to be hurried along.
Towing capacities are among the best of any SUV, with the Touareg capable of shifting a maximum trailer weight of 3.5 tonnes. The nose weight peaks at 140kg and the optional trailer assist package allows the car to take over the steering autonomously as you reverse a trailer or caravan into a space.
All Touaregs get four-wheel drive as standard and the selectable driving modes will tailor the traction control and torque delivery to cope with snow, sand, gravel and mud. Adaptive cruise control will also provide partly automated driving for road works and the motorway.
|3.0 TDI 231||43 mpg||7.5 s||173 g/km|
|3.0 TDI 286||43 mpg||6.1 s||173 g/km|
|3.0 TSI 340||31 mpg||5.9 s||203 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Touareg (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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