2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Review and Road Test

By Jonathan Spira on 28 March 2011
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The  all-new 2011 Volkswagen Touareg is the second generation of the SUV built on a shared Volkswagen Group platform in Bratislava, Slovakia alongside its platform cousins, the Audi Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne.

The Touareg, pronounced “twah-reg”, gets its name from the nomadic Tuareg people in North Africa, believed to be descended from the ancient Saharans.

The 2011 model was introduced in 2010 with a sharp, aggressive looking exterior and several technology firsts, including Dynamic Light Assist, a glare-free high-beam system that constantly and gradually adjusts the pattern and range of the high to minimize illumination of any vehicles in front while focusing the light on the area surrounding them.  Unfortunately, this option is not offered in the U.S.

The new Touareg is available not only in diesel and gasoline variants but also as the Touareg Supercharged Hybrid, which mates Audi’s 3.0-liter, 335 hp supercharged V-6 with a 47-hp electric motor.  We’ll review the hybrid later this year.

The 3.6-liter gasoline V-6 (280 hp, 265 pound-feet of torque) and the 3.0-liter diesel V-6 (225 hp, 406 pound-feet of torque) are both carry-over engines from the previous Touareg, which we reviewed last year.  Both engines, however, benefit from a new and very responsive eight-speed automatic transmission as well as from a diet that resulted in the loss of 400 pounds of excess weight.

EPA numbers for the diesel (19 mpg versus 16 in the city, 28 versus 23 on the highway) make the diesel advantage clear (the hybrid gets 21 mpg city and 25 mpg highway). It’s also clear why, in 2010, more buyers chose the first generation diesel Touareg over the gasser and fully one-third of buyers of the 2011 Touareg have also gone with the oil burner.

While the hybrid boasts many impressive features, including the ability to switch off the gasoline engine at speeds of up to 99 mph, in our view the diesel represents the best all-around Touareg.  You sacrifice one second in 0-60 (the hybrid takes 5.9 seconds to reach that speed, the diesel, 6.9), but overall the fuel economy is better and you’ll save over $10,000 (the hybrid starts at $60,565 compared to the diesel’s $47,950 base price).

The 2011 Touareg TDI isn’t just sportier looking, it is a very entertaining car to drive.  Although fun isn’t usually the top of mind with vehicles in this class, Volkswagen definitely added a heavy dose of Fahrvergnügen (a word coined by Volkswagen specifically for use in several U.S. advertising campaigns which joins “Fahr” from fahren, “to drive,” with Vergnügen, “pleasure,” to convey “driving pleasure.”)

Click here to continue to Page 2 -Driving the Volkswagen Touareg TDI

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