2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI R-line - Heels on Wheels Review
HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 VW TOUAREG TDI REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE TOUAREG VEHICLE
Focus for the Volkswagen Touareg is still placed on the powertrains, but for 2014 the trims get more attention with the addition of the new R-Line trim featuring unique interior and exterior design elements and a sportier suspension. Features also increased for the Lux, Executive and Hybrid trims.
I drove a 2014 VW Touareg R-Line with the TDI Clean Diesel engine, a 240-horsepower 3-liter V6 engine with 406 pound-feet of torque and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Trims are largely distinguished by powertrains, with my mid-level model featuring the following standard equipment: panoramic sunroof; touchscreen navigation with rearview camera; XM Radio; Bluetooth capabilities; heated seats; leather upholstery; dual-zone climate control; power liftgate; push-button start; a color display digital instrument cluster (tachometer, multi-function trip computer);; Media Device Interface (for iPod); Intelligent Crash Response System; fog lights; Bi-Xenon headlights; twenty-inch alloy wheels. Price as describes comes to $58,190.
Starting out as a prototype for the world famous Dakar Rally and used in the Baja 500, the Touareg is a more performance-oriented choice for a mid-sized SUV. Competitors with similar refinement and road chops are the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class, but also include the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Touareg boasts a high level of interior refinement with a main attraction being the panoramic sunroof. The R-Line’s brushed aluminum trim and Vienna leather upholstery give the cabin sleekness, while the power tailgate with closing assist and loads of cargo room makes it convenient. Graphics on the navigation system aren’t too impressive – I couldn’t tell much of a difference between 2-D and 3-D viewing. Engineered on a more masculine tip, petite drivers will likely feel swallowed up the seats and center stack and console layout. Rear seats lack in features – no heated seats, audio controls or even climate dials.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2014 VW Touareg “Good” ratings in all crash test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the model year. Some safety highlights include Intelligent Crash Response System; Electronic Stability Control; ABS; Lower Anchors and Tethers for car seats; and an electric parking brake with auto-hold.
Cost Issues: A starting price of $44,570 means the Touareg is an expensive SUV – but not unheard of as a mid-level Ford Flex or GMC Yukon with similar features can churn out the same number. The pricier Touareg XTDI is $56,170 and the supercharged Hybrid is $64,745.
Activity & Performance Ability: The highlight of the Touareg on the road is its maneuverability, showcasing gusto and grip at every corner. The diesel 3-liter had responsive acceleration and a spirited feel in high gear, followed up by commanding brakes and a steering feel that was taut and well-mannered. The sportier suspension tackled curvy roads for a ride that was always smooth.
The Green Concern: The Touareg does have the distinction of offering better fuel economy than many SUVs, depending on your view: The Hybrid powertrain delivers 20-city and 24-highway MPG (some might expect more from a hybrid) while the 3-liter diesel engine gets 20-city and 29-highway for an average of 23 MPG.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2014 VW Touareg will dazzle those looking for a high-performance SUV yielding a menu of engine options and a sportier trim now found in the new R-Line – but not so much families seeker the finer comforts many mid-size utility competitors have to offer.
©2014 Katrina Ramser