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Used Volkswagen Touareg (Mk3, 2018-date) review: a luxurious and spacious SUV

Everything you need to know about buying a used Volkswagen Touareg Mk3

Verdict

The Volkswagen Touareg has always been an impressive car, and with each passing generation Volkswagen has pushed its largest SUV further upmarket, increasing the technology as well as the purchase costs. Unsurprisingly, the Touareg Mk3 is the most impressive iteration yet, but it's up against some very impressive contenders in the marketplace, most of which carry more prestigious badges. If you're not too worried about having the poshest badge possible, the Touareg could be just what you're looking for with its powerful engines, luxurious and roomy cabin, excellent towing abilities and generous equipment levels. Admittedly, its rivals also offer most of these things, but the VW isn't too flash and it's better value than some of those alternatives, even if you'll still need deep pockets to buy and run one.

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The literal translation of Volkswagen is 'people's car', which conjures up images of economical family vehicles available to all. Much like the original Volkswagen of course, the Beetle. An image that the term doesn't conjure up is of a very costly full-sized SUV, but the arrival of the Touareg shows just how elastic the Volkswagen brand is.

An attempt to take Volkswagen upmarket with the Phaeton didn't prove to be very successful, but just as that luxury saloon was launched, so was VW's first SUV, the Mk1 Touareg. This proved to be rather more of a hit than the Phaeton.

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Then the Touareg Mk2 of 2010 was even more accomplished, with the third-generation model even more impressive. So, how does it stack up as a used buy?

History

Orders opened for the third-generation VW Touraeg in June 2018, with prices starting at £51,595.

At first there was just one engine available, a 282bhp 3.0 V6 TDI diesel unit, but within a couple of months a 228bhp version of this same engine had been added to the line-up. Both engines came only with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and with 4Motion four-wheel drive as standard.

With the popularity of diesel starting to wane more generally, a petrol-engined Touareg was introduced in March 2019, in the form of the 335bhp 3.0 V6 TSI, but few were sold.

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At first only SEL, R-Line and R-Line Tech trims were offered, but from September 2019 a new entry-level SE trim was introduced, along with SEL Tech and Black Edition, further up the range.

The most recent addition to the range was the plug-in-hybrid Touareg R, launched in March 2021.

Which one should I buy?

You're not going to be disappointed with any Touareg Mk3, even if it's got the least powerful diesel engine; we'd opt for the 3.0 V6 TDI for its blend of performance, economy and ready availability.

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If you do a lot of miles you'll find the fuel bills a bit wearing if you buy a petrol-engined edition, while purchase costs for the Touareg R are very high – if you can find one.

All Touaregs are well equipped, with the entry-level SE featuring 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights, heated front seats, a 9.2-inch touch screen with navigation and DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, plus front and rear parking sensors.

The SEL adds extra chrome, ambient cabin lighting, leather trim, privacy glass, a powered tailgate and a 15in touch-screen display. R-Line versions have sports seats, 20in wheels, four-zone climate control and a rear-view camera. The Black Edition has a panoramic sunroof and air suspension with adjustable chassis control.

Alternatives to the VW Touareg

In terms of price or size of SUV, the Touareg is up against a raft of very impressive premium cars. The most dynamically accomplished is the Porsche Cayenne, or you could opt for the slightly smaller Macan; both of these SUVs are five-seaters that are superb to drive, but costly to buy and run.

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Same goes for the Range Rover Sport and Velar, which are also impressive off-road and when towing. Meanwhile, the Volvo XC90 impresses for its glorious interior, its safety tech and its seven-seat capability, while the Audi Q7 is another seven-seater that shares some of its oily bits with the Volkswagen.

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Other large SUVs include the BMW X5 and X6, the Mercedes GLE and the Land Rover Discovery, all of which are costly to buy and run, but they're all impressively luxurious and dynamically capable in return.

What to look for

Towing

If you're buying a Touareg as a tow car, you'll love it. All engines make light work of pulling trailers and caravans, and they're all rated at a maximum of 3,500kg, including the Touareg R plug-in hybrid.

No V8 diesel

In spring 2019 Volkswagen unveiled a Touareg at the Geneva Motor Show, with a 415bhp 4.0-litre V8 TDI diesel engine. The car went on sale in Europe, but never made it to the UK.

Slow setting off

The most common gripe among owners is the lag that's evident when setting off from standstill, such as when pulling out of a junction. VW has issued software updates but they don't seem to be totally effective.

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Four-wheel steering

Volkswagen offered four-wheel steering on all Touaregs as an extra-cost option. Up to 22mph the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction from the front wheels, to tighten the turning circle. At higher speeds they turn the same way, to improve stability.

Interior

As Volkswagen's flagship vehicle, the Touareg's cabin is every bit as special as you'd expect. Although leather trim isn’t standard on entry-level cars, all Touaregs have plenty of premium materials throughout their cabin, and the fit and finish are excellent. Better still, the dashboard is user-friendly (if a bit busy), despite there being large amounts of standard equipment.

Predictably, cabin space in both the front and rear is superb (there's no seven-seat option) and so is the available boot space. For added versatility the back seat slides back and forth by 160mm, allowing the boot capacity to jump from 810 litres (seats up) to 1,800 litres (seats folded).

Prices

Most of the Touaregs that we found were fitted with a diesel engine, and five out of six had the more powerful motor (282bhp instead of 228bhp). We turned up a handful of petrol-engined Touaregs, while there are also quite a few plug-in hybrids on the market. The Black Edition is by far the most popular trim level, with R-Line Tech coming a distant second.

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To check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.

Running costs

As with all Volkswagens, the Touareg can be run on a Fixed or a Flexible maintenance schedule. Opt for the former and a service is due every year or 9,300 miles, whereas the latter doubles this to every two years or 18,600 miles.

Most owners opt for the Flexible scheme, with the first service pegged at £223 for an oil and filter change; if a fresh pollen filter is also required, the cost jumps to £357. The major service (due at 40k, 80k, 100k miles, etc) adds a new air filter and either a fuel filter or spark plugs, and this is priced at £502.

Once a Touareg has celebrated its third birthday it's eligible for cut-price maintenance. Services alternate between Minor and Major which are priced at £204 and £404 respectively. Fresh brake fluid is required every two years at £69, while the Touareg's engines are chain driven, so there are no cambelts to replace.

Recalls

The third-generation Touareg has been recalled four times so far. Volkswagen issued the first action in November 2018, when 110 Touaregs built between August and October of that year were recalled, because of faulty rear seatbelt buckles.

Poorly made shock absorbers were the reason behind the second recall, which came in February 2019, affecting just 10 Touaregs built in December 2018.

A third campaign was launched in March 2020, aimed at 22 Touaregs produced between April 2018 and January 2019, some of which had loose bolts in the steering mechanism.

The most recent recall was issued in May 2020, because 255 Touaregs made between September and November 2019 could suffer from gearbox oil leaks.

Driver Power ownership satisfaction

While some of Volkswagen’s smaller SUVs have made it into our Driver Power surveys (the Tiguan came 58th, the T-Roc 28th and the T-Cross 21st out of 75 entries in our 2023 New Car poll), the Touareg doesn’t sell in large enough quantities to make an appearance. There are just four reader reviews on carbuyer.co.uk: a four-star, a five-star, and, worryingly, two that award just a single star.

Tell us about your car in the Driver Power survey...

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