2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI: Luxury, Take Two – Review – The Car Guide

17 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI: Luxury, Take Two – Review – The Car Guide

2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI: Luxury, Take Two

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Volkswagen has enjoyed an upscale reputation amongst Canadian buyers for the past 20 years, as ever-more-comfortable versions of vehicles like the Golf, the Jetta, and the Passat have been gobbled up by price-conscious drivers who perceive German engineering to be a badge of pride.  The success of VW in carving out a near-premium niche in our northern kingdom has encouraged the automotive megalith to dream big –Volkswagen Touareg TDI big, in fact.

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI is a mid-size SUV that looks luxury competitors from both its native land and Japan in the eye and dares them to find fault with its build quality, its power, and its list of features.  It’s a staring contest that few of its rivals will win, given that the Touareg TDI boasts a sizable efficiency and power advantage under the hood along with one of the nicest interiors in the business.  The sport-utility vehicle’s high end experience, however, comes at a price that puts it out of the reach of most of Volkswagen’s traditional customer base.

Step Into The Big Leagues

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI is no entry-level hauler.  The mid-size, five-passenger vehicle bears a window sticker that wouldn’t look out of place on a Mercedes-Benz lot, especially the R-Line model that served as my test vehicle.  Instead of paying for a badge, however, like a lot other premium SUVs ask you to do, the Volkswagen translates your hard-earned dollars into content: a navigation system, heated leather seats, an edge-to-edge panoramic sunroof, dual automatic climate control, a driver’s information display, and 20-inch rims were all included with the vehicle I drove.

The Touareg TDI R-Line also looks the part, with a welcome body kit adding a hint of polished aggression to the SUV’s exterior.  The passenger compartment is replete with high class materials, featuring armrests and the center console that are more than adequately padded and a color palette and choice of plastics that are worthy of the price point where Volkswagen has placed the vehicle.

  Interior space is generous, whether you are hauling passengers or cargo, and the second row in particular stands out as an excellent place to while away the road trip miles.  It’s not all champagne and roses inside the Touareg TDI, however, as this people mover comes with one of the slowest-loading entertainment interfaces I have ever encountered – taking well over a minute, in some cases, from the turn of the key to being able to actually select a satellite radio station.  This is a well-known Volkswagen failing, but one that for one reason or another remains uncorrected even on newer models.

Power – And Efficiency – For Days

The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine under the hood of the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI isn’t just a tremendously-powerful piece of work, it also offers the automotive equivalent of a bottomless cup of Joe in the form of a cruising range of close to 1,000 kilometres.  This is possible thanks to the Touareg TDI’s efficient diesel design, which consumes fuel at the leisurely rate of 6.7 l /100 km on the highway (I saw 13.5 l/100 km around town – which is closer to the official 10.8 l/100 km figure – on an engine still in its break-in period).  There’s also that 100 litre fuel tank to consider, too, which is a pain to fill up but at least you won’t have to do it as often.

Despite its good-for-an-SUV fuel consumption, the Touareg TDI also manages to deliver excellent forward thrust.  There are 240 horses and 406 lb-ft of torque on tap in the VW, managed by an eight-speed automatic transmission and fed to a permanent four-wheel drive system.

  Turbo lag rears its head at initial throttle tip-in, which is something you have to learn to drive around when navigating through traffic, but aside from that minor quibble the Touareg’s turbodiesel engine is smooth, confident, and relentless in its acceleration.  In fact, the TDI is surprisingly quick for its class, which you would never suspect given its relatively ponderous curb weight.  The Volkswagen’s might is balanced out by a suspension system that manages to walk the fine line between control and comfort, which means it’s really no more of a challenge to drive the Touareg than it is any other large sedan.

All Its Eggs In An Expensive Basket

Is there truly a market for the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI?  That’s the $63,800 question – the sticker price on the top-tier Execline model that I drove.  This represents a $10,000 add-on over the entry-level Touareg TDI, and both figures see the Volkswagen fighting it out with either top-trim domestic SUVs or the bottom rungs of what is typically considered the established luxury ladder.

In my mind the Volkswagen Touareg TDI passes the premium test with flying colours, and deserves to be considered alongside BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep offerings in the mid-size segment.  It’s certainly going to be a chore for VW’s marketing department, however, to convince Canadians to think the same way I do.  Reputations take time to establish, and even longer to be re-written.

  Volkswagen doesn’t plan on being just a purveyor of expensive-feeling, affordable cars anymore – it’s got designs on expensive-feeling, expensive cars too.  As far as beachheads go, the Touareg TDI is an excellent ‘take two’ for the company’s brand expansion mission.

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