Heels on Wheels - 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE 2011 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG VEHICLE
Although the mid-size SUV debuted in 2007, Volkswagen is proudly calling the second-generation 2011 VW Touareg an “all new” machine because this model year puts the focus on its three powertrains: a 3.0-liter V6 TSI supercharged hybrid engine, a 3.6-liter V6 TDI clean diesel engine and 3.6-liter V6 FSI gasoline engine. VW can proudly stand behind the claim the Touareg has improved fuel efficiency seeing the gas-hogging V8 engine option has been dropped.
I drove a 2011 VW Touareg VR6 Sport, which stands for the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 FSI gasoline engine with the Sport trim. With just three trims (and distinguished by their powertrains or engines) the VW doesn’t complicate the interior standards. All Touaregs come with: Climatronic (a dual-zone climate control system); a color display digital instrument cluster (tachometer, multi-function trip computer); a navigation system; SIRIUS radio; Media Device Interface (for iPod); Intelligent Crash Response System; Bluetooth capabilities; heated seats: and a multi-function steering wheel. That’s a pretty long standard features list – and a rather steep starting price of $44,450.
Staring out as a prototype for the world famous Dakar Rally and used in the Baja 500, the Touareg is more than a mid-sized SUV – it’s a fast off-road performance vehicle.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: A clear level of refinement is obvious the minute you sit inside a Touareg. From the V-Tec leatherette material to the power liftgate, the interior design says sleek, sporty and convenient. The 8-way driver power seating allows for perfect alignment to the steering wheel and center console controls. The Media Device Interface is easy to use for MP3 players. Rain-sensing intermittent wipers and Bi-Xenon headlights make driving in stormy weather a peaceful experience. Overall, the cabin is functional, comfortable and memorable.
Reliability & Safety Factor: All VW Touaregs built after January 2011 are on the Top Safely Pick list by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for earning ratings of “Good” in all crash test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the 2011 model. Some safety highlights include: Intelligent Crash Response System; Electronic Stability Control; ABS; and an electric parking brake with auto-hold.
Cost Issues: A starting price of $44,450 is expensive – but not unheard of. Take a Ford Flex with the same level of features and you’ll get the same number. The prices of the other two Touareg powertrain trims can be hard to swallow: The V6 TDI diesel is $47,950 and the V6 TSI supercharged Hybrid is $60,565.
Activity & Performance Ability: The 3.6-liter V6 FSI gasoline engine possessed gusto and grip. Winding around the corners or during long stretches of road, the powertrain delivered a commanding and spirited feel. Acceleration was downright svelte, as well the braking. Steering feel was smooth and taut. The suspension was balanced and the road noise was non-existent. Through the Touareg, VW channels an unforgettable, thrilling ride.
The Green Concern: The Hybrid powertrain delivers 20-city and 24-highway MPG, which won’t really knock the socks off you greenies. The diesel engine gets 19-city and 28-highway driving. And the FSI gasoline motor gets an estimated 16-city and 23-highway. I did fair an average of 19-MPG with the gasoline engine.
FINAL PARTING WORDS: The 2011 VW Touareg is an SUV committed to focusing on really amazing powertrains, and can deliver comfortable luxury while doing it. If you can swing a steep base price of $44,450 – and as much as $60,565 for the Hybrid version – you won’t be disappointed in the speed, style and comfort of the Touareg.
©2011 Katrina Ramser