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2008 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI Review

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2008 Touareg TDI V-10 YEEHA!!!!!

By Mark Gordon
Rocky Mountain Editor
The Auto Channel

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Humor me, please. If you don’t mind, let’s use our imagination for a moment. Let’s imagine a world where fuel costs are reasonable or cheap. I know, I know, very unrealistic but you’ll see the reason in a second. In this fictional universe we find a myriad of vehicles. SUVs are still king and bigger is definetly better. With that in mind let me say without equivocation that the 2008 VW Touareg V10 TDI is the best SUV that money can buy. This thing is amazing. Plush as a Town Car, fast and sporty as a Porsche, and with as much offroad cred as a jacked up Ford Bronco.

Of course the personality of the reviewer is always a present factor in reading any review and I definetly had a predisposition to like this vehicle and of course at the mid 70’s (and I’m not talking decade) price this vehicle better perform, but even with all that, this thing performed even better than my expectations.

I would like to start out with a couple of negative statements and then we’ll get to the good stuff. First, the xenon headlights.....I wasn’t too thrilled with these. I’m not a big fan of the sharp focus headlights to begin with. And yes of course I know this is becoming standard operating on most higher end vehicles, but on a strip of interstate on a dark night, you can’t see far enough ahead unless you put on the high beams...and the oncoming traffic really doesn’t appreciate this. I’m really not too sure what the solution to this problem is; maybe mid-beams. The second small criticism I had was that the plastic handles on the dashboard vents were very slight, and by slight I mean cheap. One of them actually broke off in my hand as I was adjusting the AC. I debated if I should mention this, since this is the type of problem your dealer will fix immediately, once it is brought to his attention. But upon further reflection I thought it would be worthwhile mentioning, if for only to balance out the review . I don’t want to seem like I’m too enamored with the Touareg, I need to maintain some credibility.

So now to the good stuff. The seats, both front and rear are incredibly comfortable. The adjustments to the driver’s seat ensure that even Quasimodo would be able to make driving this car a joy. Of course it has the memory settings so that once you find the optimum positioning, you will always be able to find that same exact setting, even if your five year old sits in the front and explores all the cool buttons.

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So now you are sitting in an incredibly comfortable seat. Look around, the design is wonderful. Far from overwhelming, but definetly not minimal. Every button has its purpose. Although without reading the manual it took a while to figure out exactly what purpose But figure it out I did. I learned to scroll through the information screen. I figured out all by myself how to set and reset the cruise control. The cruise control does have a very cool feature. You can adjust the distance between you and the car in front of you. When you get too close the Touareg automatically slows down.

The smart Touareg also has warnings on the side view mirrors that let you know someone is hanging out in your blind spot. I first saw this feature on a Volvo and I immediately loved it. But my advice is not to rely on it for the safety of you and your family. You should obviously still look over your shoulders before changing lanes. The feature is just another safety latch, but definetly a cool one.

Even though I write about cars for a living I still try and look at each vehicle with fresh eyes, and non-professional eyes at that. With that in mind please don’t make too much fun of me about how cool I thought the air adjustable suspension is. I would spin the dial and watch the entire vehicle move up and down. Of course I only played with this while standing still. I once even overdid it and used up all the compressed air. I had to wait for the tank to refill before continuing my little game.

So now we are driving. Damn, this thing has pickup to spare. Even with the powerhouse V10 it still gets over 20 miles to the gallon thanks to VW’s Turbo Diesiel. I’m really looking forward to checking out the TDI Jetta that is due out this fall. So go ahead and punch it. But be prepared if you aren’t ready you could get whiplash. So yes it is fast on the straights, but it also takes turns like an F1. We’ll maybe that is a little exageration, or maybe not. I’ve never driven an F1. But it hugs the road without squealing. And you should know, I did push it.

The “four corner air suspension” is an engineering marvel. In sport setting, a sports car is what you get. In comfort, a Town Car is what you are driving. Potholes don’t matter. Construction zones might as well be newly laid asphalt. It is that smooth. I didn’t get the chance to take the vehicle truly off road. But I did take it on a gravel Forest Service road, and it was actually hard to tell the difference between road base and asphalt.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my 5 year old son loved the power rear hatch. Speaking of the rear, for a mid-size SUV the storage area holds enough for a well equipped camping expedition. I can’t really think of a feature that this vehicle is missing, which is good considering the price.

As is painfully obvious, I love this car. Of course now that our little fantasy world of cheap fuel is gone, this vehicle might not be the most practical. But with a respectable 20 MPG for the performance you get, if you need the big muscle SUV this is the one to get.