2017 Volkswagen Touareg

Unlike most other Volkswagen models, which have become less expensive and less sophisticated in order to gain mass-market appeal, the Touareg midsize SUV is a genuine luxury vehicle. It's not cheap but it offers buyers an impressive array of attributes: a comfortable and sumptuous and interior, excellent towing abilities and good fuel economy, especially with the optional diesel hybrid powertrains.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, Volkswagen has replaced the Lux trim with a new model dubbed Wolfsburg Edition.

Stylistically, the SUV is highlighted by Volkwagen's horizontally oriented corporate grille, which connects to trapezoidal headlight housings that carry U-shaped LED running lights and bi-xenon high intensity Gas-Discharged headlamps. 'L-Design' taillights and triangle-shaped exhaust outlets dress up the rear end, and the overall look is one of understated athleticism.

The Touareg's high-quality interior belies Volkswagen's "people's car" tagline with a high-quality look and feel worthy of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Attractive wood and metal trim pieces abound, and the dashboard wears a simple and Teutonic design. With 32 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, the Touareg offers class-competitive stowage space, and a full 64 cubic feet are available with the second-row seats folded. Unlike some competitors, no third-row seat is available, meaning the SUV is limited to carrying five occupants.

An all-independent suspension composed largely of aluminum is one of the factors in the Touareg's weight loss for the latest generation, and it also contributes to the SUV's buttoned-down handling dynamics. All Touareg models come standard with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which sends 40 percent of power to the front axle and 60 percent to the rear under normal driving conditions.

While Volkswagen offers the Touareg with off-road-ready items like a two-speed transfer case and skid plates in other markets, the automaker doesn't expect U.S. buyers to venture off the pavement and therefore leaves those goodies off the options list. Even without those extras, the Touareg offers a decent amount of off-road capability thanks to a high-travel suspension along with generous approach and departure angles.

Towing capacity is rated at a 7,700 pounds with the available towing package - those looking to do any serious trailering will want to spring for this package, as the Touareg is rated for just 1,650 lbs. without it.

Powertrain Lineup
The Touareg's V6 displaces 3.6-liters and is good for 280 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which offers a sport mode for spirited driving along with a dynamic shift program that adapts to the driver's individual style and adjusts the shift points accordingly.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Touareg is available in four different trim levels - Sport, Sport with Navigation, Wolfsburg Edition, and Executive.

The entry-level Sport comes well-equipped with leatherette upholstery, power-adjustable and heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker touchscreen-activated AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM sound system with iPod integration, ambient lighting, a multi-function trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Few will be surprised with what the Sport with Navigation adds to the Sport trim's features - a touch screen-activated navigation system.

The Wolfsburg Edition trim adds brushed aluminum trim, stainless steel door sills and pedals, a black headliner, two-tone leather upholstery, heated front seats, gray door inserts, contrast stitching on the floor mats, the shift lever, and the steering wheel, as well as 20-inch alloy wheels with a diamond-turned finish.

The top-shelf Executive trim brings a 10-speaker, 620-watt Dynaudio stereo system, heated rear seats, keyless access with push-button start, a power-adjustable steering column, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure warning system, park distance control and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Touareg R-Line
The R-Line package gives the Touareg a more aggressive look.

From the outside, the Touareg R-Line is easily recognizable by its 20-inch wheels, unique front fascia, side skirts, LED taillights and oval exhaust outlets. The package also includes plenty of R-Line badging.

Inside, the R-Line Touareg is treated to gloss black and aluminum trim accents, R-Line scuff plates, aluminum sport pedals, and an R-Line steering wheel.

The R-Line trim doesn't add any power, but the package does include a sport-tuned suspension.

Occupant Safety
All Touareg models come standard with dual front, side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and Rollover Sensor System, which monitors the vehicle's turning angle and speed and can help detect a possible rollover situation.

Additionally, buyers can order the Touareg with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Side Assist, Front Assist and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System at an extra cost.

Key Competitors
For the price, the only rivals to the Touareg that can match it in off-road capability are the Land Rover LR4 and the Lexus GX. More pavement-focused rivals include the fine-driving BMW X5 and the refined Acura MDX.