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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Touareg review: the smart luxury SUV choice

The VW Touareg is a quick, comfortable and refined luxury SUV that comes loaded with clever technology

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£68,170 to £81,025
  • Interior quality
  • Tech-filled cabin
  • Refinement
  • No seven-seater
  • Lifeless steering
  • Petrol option is expensive to buy and run
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The Volkswagen Touareg is a tough competitor in the luxury SUV market. That’s thanks to a mix of solid build quality and premium materials, the latest technology from the VW Group and decent selection of powertrains – traits that have featured on VW largest SUV since it launched in 2003. 

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The latest third-generation Touareg arrived in 2018 and received a facelift in 2023. It continues to tread the line between a suite of large SUVs from non-premium brands and bona-fide premium offerings. Cheaper versions of the Touareg have to do battle with the likes of the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Peugeot 5008. More expensive, better equipped Touaregs are a legitimate alternative to the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE.

One attribute of the Touareg since the first generation model is that it shares its underpinnings with the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. All three have different characters though, the Porsche is certainly the sportiest version, the Audi has the added attraction of seven seats and the VW is the cheapest. 

Under the skin, the latest Touareg uses the VW Group's MLB evo platform, which is also shared with the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and a variety of other non-SUV Audi models. In the instance of the Touareg, power currently comes from VW's 3.0 TDI V6 diesel in two power outputs, 228bhp or 282bhp and a 335bhp V6 petrol, while the R range-topper uses a 456bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain. A less-powerful plug-in hybrid with 376bhp joined the range during the mid-life facelift. All are linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and feature 4MOTION four-wheel drive.

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There used to be up to six versions of the Touareg on offer: SE, SEL, R-Line, R-Line Tech, Black Edition and the Touareg R. Now it’s just Elegance, Black Edition and R that make up the range. All trims offer generous levels of equipment, with the entry-level Elegance better equipped than the old SE. It receives 20-inch alloys, a 15-inch touchscreen infotainment system with gesture control, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera and adaptive cruise control. Black Edition variants bring larger 21-inch wheels, air suspension, powered seats with memory function, blacked out exterior trim, tinted windows and Volkswagen’s ‘Park Assist Pro’. 

The biggest difference with the Touareg R is the powertrain, as you’d imagine. The top-spec model does also get further upgrades with 22-inch wheels, exclusive leather upholstery, active climate control seats up front and various R badges inside and out.

The Volkswagen Touareg has evolved into an upmarket SUV that has the ability to battle premium rivals for quality and comfort. The cabin is beautifully built and laden with kit, and while there’s no seven-seat version, it’s more than practical enough for a family of five. And with a driving experience that emphasises the comfort of the cabin, it goes a long way to justifying its premium price tag, which now starts from around the £68,000 mark.

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If you want a large and luxurious premium SUV with all the latest tech, then the Touareg is a smart choice. It’s just a shame that a lot of the desirable features aren’t fitted as standard.

Engines, performance and drive

By sticking with the tried and tested V6 diesel, the Touareg remains a strong performer

While the Volkswagen Touareg isn't the sharpest car in its class, it’s still a great all-rounder. In fact, by sticking with a range of tried and tested V6 engines, it remains one of the strongest and most refined cars of its class. 

With up to 282bhp, it’s a gutsy performer, with loads of power and huge torque reserves – perfect for quick overtakes or steady motorway cruising. It’s incredibly quiet, too, which takes the pain out of long, monotonous journeys. The less-powerful 228bhp diesel still has 500Nm of torque available from 1,500rpm, which should be enough grunt for most. 

But while the Touareg is based on the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, it’s clear VW has prioritised comfort rather than outright driver fun. Yes, this new car is an improvement on the last Touareg, but the numb and slightly unpredictable steering lets down what is an otherwise excellent package. It’s surprisingly nimble though, thanks to the nifty four-wheel-steering system, and should your car have air suspension equipped, body roll will be impressively kept in check. The DSG gearbox can feel a little hesitant at times, but it’s not a deal breaker.

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The VW Touareg comes loaded with stress-saving tech, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Predictive Cruise. This system automatically changes your speed according to posted limits and we’ve never had issues with it picking up incorrect signs. Other useful semi-autonomous tech includes Traffic Jam Assist and Cross Traffic Assist, as well as Proactive Occupant Protection, which closes the windows and pre-tightens the seatbelts if it senses an impending collision.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Volkswagen Touareg launched in the UK with a pair of 3.0-litre V6 diesels. Badged 231PS and 286PS respectively, they have 228bhp and 282bhp. A 335bhp V6 petrol was introduced in early 2019 and is the first petrol unit to be offered in the new range. At 50kg lighter than its diesel counterparts, it manages the 0-62mph sprint in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. As you would expect, the 282bhp diesel feels strong and refined. 

The 0-62mph dash takes just 6.4 seconds and there's a top speed of 146mph, while the motor feels relatively unstressed at motorway speeds. It felt more than punchy enough, both from a standstill and in-gear. It’s incredibly quiet, too, even in the upper reaches of the rev band.

The 228bhp engine gives the Touareg a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds and a 138mph top speed, which is by no means slow. As both cars have a 3.5-tonne maximum towing weight and near-identical payloads, it makes the extra £2,500 or so you pay for the bigger engine seem frivolous.

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Unsurprisingly, the R flagship is the fastest model in the line-up, with its powerful petrol engine and electric motor combining to give a 5.2-second 0-62mph time. It’s the first plug-in hybrid Volkswagen R model, and shows that the R sub-brand is heading towards more electrification. It doesn’t get the four-wheel steering or anti-roll system of some of the other fast SUVs on the same platform, apparently due to the constraints of the bulky hybrid powertrain.

A second plug-in hybrid arrived in late 2023 with the Touareg’s facelift. It’s offered exclusively in Elegance guise and has 376bhp for a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds and a 155mph top speed. The PHEV system adds a chunky 388kg to the Touareg’s kerbweight, taking it to  2,443kg (compared to the regular petrol V6). 

All engines come with an eight-speed auto gearbox, and 4MOTION four-wheel drive is standard across the range.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

The Touareg is a big 4x4, and it comes with big running costs, too

Prices for the Touareg start from around £68,000 for the lower powered 3.0-litre diesel in Black Edition spec. Upgrading to the more powerful diesel costs around £2,500, while moving up to Elegance incurs an extra charge of just over £1,000. The range-topping R sits at over £80,000. 

All new Touaregs are still subject to the £40,000 road tax levy of an extra £390 that runs for five years. The road fund licence that you pay for the first year on the V6 petrol is £2,220.  The two plug-in hybrids have a first-year rate of £560 and a standard tax rate of £170 from years two to five. Both diesels require a first year tax of £1,565, followed by a standard tax rate of £180.  

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The diesel engines have the same economy and emissions figures. CO2 figures, under WLTP testing, are quoted at 215g/km. On a combined cycle they’ll both return an economy figure of 34.4mpg, although we managed nearer the 40mpg mark on a steady cruise. The V6 petrol produces more CO2 at 251g/km and returns up to 25.6mpg.

The most fuel efficient Touareg is unsurprisingly the new plug-in hybrid V6 petrol, returning 126.2mpg on average. It also emits the least CO2 at 51g/km. The more powerful Touareg R with its plug-in hybrid system returns a decent 121mpg and emits 51g/km of CO2. Volkswagen claims an all-electric range of 30 miles for the R from its 14.3kWh battery. The other PHEV in Elegance trim can do 31 miles. Expect both of these cars to be as thirsty, if not more so, than the V6 petrol when the battery has run out. Both versions of plug-in Touareg can accept up to 7kW charging from a home wallbox, which will take around 2.5 hours to fully recharge a flat battery.

Insurance groups

With the loss of the SE version, the Touareg now sits in insurance groups ranging from 41 to 49. The Touareg’s improved safety kit and semi-autonomous features will help to lower premiums, but upgrading to the more powerful diesel and V6 petrol bumps up the car's group rating. The Elegance PHEV sits in group 47 and the Touareg R sits in group 49 out of 50.

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Depreciation

Volkswagen remains a strong and highly desirable brand, although it doesn't quite have the prestige of some rivals at the top end of the luxury SUV sector. The Touareg should hold onto around 50 per cent after three years and 36,000 miles. That’s quite a way off the Porsche Cayenne’s level of around 66 per cent and the Audi Q7’s 59 per cent.

To get an accurate valuation on a specific model check out our valuation tool...

Interior, design and technology

The Touareg sets a high benchmark in the premium SUV class for its strong interior quality and innovative tech

Design-wise, the latest VW Touareg takes its smaller SUV siblings as a base and expands on them in every direction. It’s instantly recognisable as the firm’s largest model, with a wide grille and giant VW badge on the nose. It appears squatter than before thanks to its revised proportions, but this is a bulky car, whichever way you look at it. The facelift brought a new headlight and rear light signature, not to mention a light-up rear badge, plus new bumpers front and rear. 

Inside, the Touareg sets a high benchmark for its intuitive layout and quality materials. It not only looks great, but it’s packed with functional features and practical touches. There’s leather everywhere you look, with lashings of metal and high-quality plastic throughout. You wouldn’t expect much more if you were sitting in a car costing twice the price.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

There’s no denying the VW Touareg sets a benchmark for infotainment and interior technology in the premium SUV class. The seamless dual-screen set-up not only looks great, but it works beautifully – with loads of functionality and crisp responses.

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The ‘innovision Cockpit’ comprises a set of 12.3-inch digital dials next to a huge 15-inch central infotainment screen. It offers the illusion of a single pane of glass, and while it is subtly split in two just behind the steering wheel, VW tells us the only reason for this is to reduce the cost of replacement should one get damaged.

All the menus are configurable in a tile formation, meaning you can bring frequently used functions to the forefront, and push those less important to the back. It’s a remarkably intuitive set-up, and can be used alongside the standard-fit Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems.

Ahead of the digital dials you can add a crystal clear head-up display for just over £1,000. This shows everything from speed and trip info to navigation directions.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The VW Touareg is big and spacious inside, but unlike some rivals there's no seven-seat option

The five-door Volkswagen Touareg is a big, comfortable and super-practical family car. While it doesn't offer a seven-seat layout as you'll find in the Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90 or Audi Q7, it is still an incredibly spacious SUV with room for five tall adults.

Size

The VW Touareg is a big car, whichever way you look at it. It’s almost five metres long and 1,984mm wide, which is 44mm wider than before. This does create more interior and luggage space than the previous-generation SUV, but means the Touareg will be trickier to position on narrow city streets than before.

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However, it’s still not as long as the biggest cars in this class. At more than five metres, an Audi Q7 (complete with its seven-seat layout) is almost 8cm longer than the latest Touareg.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Whichever seat you’re in, there’s plenty of room inside the VW Touareg. By avoiding the temptation to put two seats in the boot, VW has made accommodation generous for all five passengers. Despite being 7mm lower than before, there’s loads of headroom and kneeroom, and the doors open wide to make fitting child seats nice and simple.

Boot

Again, by avoiding the need for a third row of seats, the VW Touareg has one of the biggest boots in the premium SUV class. With the rear seats in place there’s 40 litres more than you’ll find in an Audi Q7 (810 litres versus 770 litres in the Audi’s five-seat configuration), while folding everything flat offers 1,800 litres - almost as much room as in an Volvo XC90. Cars fitted with all-round air suspension can be lowered from a button in the boot, too, making it even easier to load heavy or bulky items. Choose the plug-in hybrid and the boot space unfortunately drops to 665 litres due to the battery pack taking up some space compared with the regular version.

Towing capacity

Both the V6 diesel and petrol engines give the Touareg a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, which is similar to most of its premium SUV rivals. Plus, clever tech like Trailer Assist makes reversing your caravan or horsebox a supremely simple affair.

Reliability and safety

The Touareg provides five-star safety levels, but a disappointing Driver Power result means there's room for improvement

Volkswagen finished 27th out of 32 manufacturers in the 2023 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, which is a very average result, and a sharp fall from finishing in 5th place back in our 2018 survey. 

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Euro NCAP tested the Touareg at the end of 2018, and it earned a full five-star crash test rating. There’s loads of safety kit on board, with clever kit like Predictive Cruise – a system that adjusts your speed according to the posted limit – raising the bar in this class. Volkswagen’s engineers tell us the lane departure warning system turns on every time the car is started just to gain an extra half-star in the stringent NCAP tests. Other innovative features include Traffic Jam Assist and Cross Traffic Assist.

Warranty

Every new Volkswagen Touareg comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is broadly in line with its key rivals. While this should suffice for most buyers, the firm offers an additional two years of extended warranty cover for an additional fee.  

Servicing

As with all VW models, the Touareg has variable service intervals. If you cover less than 10,000 miles a year and do numerous short trips, then you need to do an oil change service after the first 12 months or 10,000 miles, whichever comes sooner. Then there are 20,000 miles/1 year gaps between services.

With the variable service schedule, you only need to change the oil after two years (or when the service light illuminates), and then there are 20,000-mile/annual intervals. As with rivals, VW offers various service plans that you can add to your finance arrangements within 12 months of your Touareg being registered.

For an alternative review of the latest Volkswagen Touareg SUV visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion Black Edition 5dr Tip Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £68,170

Most Economical

  • Name
    3.0 TSI eHybrid 4Motion Elegance 5dr Tip Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £69,465

Fastest

  • Name
    3.0 TSI eHybrid 4Motion Elegance 5dr Tip Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £69,465
Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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