The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Heels on Wheels : 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Review +VIDEO


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Volkswagen Touareg

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE TOUAREG VEHICLE
Sleek and streamlined, the five-passenger Volkswagen Touareg possesses your classic German engineering components for a premium mid-size SUV with a distinct focus on powertrain versatility – choose between a V6 engine, hybrid, or TDI Clean Diesel.

I drove a 2015 VW Touareg with the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine with 266 pound-feet of torque and 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Trims are largely distinguished by powertrains (but with about three trims – the Sport, Lux and Executive), with my top-of-the-line Executive trim featured the following standard equipment: panoramic sunroof; touchscreen navigation with a 360-degree rearview camera; upgraded Dynaudio sound system; Bluetooth capabilities; heated front and rear seats; heated steering wheel; upgraded Vienna 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); Lane Change Assist; fog lights; Bi-Xenon headlights; twenty-inch Montauk wheels. Price as describes comes to $58,700.

The Touareg gets minor design upgrades and ups its available suite of safety technology for 2015. Picking from a bundle of popular competitors in the segment, I would include the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 450h, Ford Edge, and Jeep Grand Cherokee – and for the wild card and because I was so impressed with it, the refreshed and fully loaded Nissan Murano.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Handsomely designed inside and out, the cabin mixes craftsmanship with convenience with new chrome and wood accents. The 12.7 square foot panoramic sunroof is draw, along with the upgraded 360-degree rearview camera, and heated rear seats are a nice touch. Taking a play move right out of Ford’s playbook, the Touareg offers a liftgate feature that opens with a swipe of a foot under the rear bumper The 2-D and 3-D navigation system graphics aren’t as impressive as many competitors. A bonus with Volkwagen’s upgraded touchscreen audio system is the ease to channel surf without leaving the current station – a small perk, sure, but much appreciated and not available on many other competitors.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2015 Volkswagen 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. The Touareg now offers a Driver Assistance Package that adds Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Cost Issues: The base Touareg Sport with the V6 engine starts at $44,705 – sounds expensive until you realize this is essentially the Porsche Cayenne. The Hybrid comes in at $66,995 and gets a sorry 20-city and 23-highway fuel economy rating – now compare that to the 2015 Lexus RX 450h (hybrid) at $57,405 with real-time results of 27.8 miles-per-gallon combined.

Activity & Performance Ability: Like most Volkswagen's, the Touareg exhibits maneuverability and spirit but with much more depth and swagger. With an eight-speed automatic transmission, smooth upshifts are the true performance highlight. The vehicle also powers over any type of abrasive terrain without a trace of discomfort to the passengers.

The Green Concern: With a fuel economy of 17-city and 23-highway for the Touareg’s V6, I averaged about 18 miles-per-gallon. The Nissan Murano boasts 21-city and 28-highway with their 3.5-liter V6 and all-wheel drive, but on a weeklong test drive I achieved 20.2 miles-per-gallon – yet still better that the Touareg. The Touareg Hybrid stands out as the wrong choice for both price and fuel economy – I’d go with the Lexus RX 450h.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Conceived in equal parts power and luxury is the 2015 Volkswagen Touareg, meeting all your performance needs with a capable V6 engine and smartly constructed drivetrain. But as far as premium hybrid SUVs go, opt for Lexus RX 450h that offers much a better price and fuel economy.

©2015 Katrina Ramser