Virtually all SUVs come with some sort of 4WD system, but when the going gets tough, they don't always get going.
That does not apply to the Volkswagen Touareg, however, which will plow its way through the ugliest and most inhospitable conditions you can throw at it. Lots of SUVs claim they can get through the rough stuff; in the case of the Touareg, it's not an idle boast.
This is thanks in large measure to VW's 4XMotion all-wheel-drive. Briefly put, this is a permanent all-wheel-drive system that distributes torque between the front and rear driving wheels, depending upon conditions and vehicle load. Not particularly unusual these days, but the Touareg also features a locking centre differential, and, if you ordered it, a locking rear differential as well. Combine this with the traction control system and optional air suspension package, which provides six different ride heights, and you had a mountain goat of an SUV.
In 2007, the Touareg came in two varieties: V-6 and V-8. The V-6 model was up slightly in displacement over 2006, and was the more popular of the two. It developed 280 horsepower, while the V-8 had 340 hp. Both preferred premium grade fuel and were mated to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission only. Interestingly, they had similar fuel consumption numbers on the highway: 11.0 litres/100 km versus 11.5. Buyers looking for a serious off-road performer, however, would do well to consider the V-8 over the V-6. The latter powerplant was a little on the anemic side, especially with a full load of passengers and luggage.
Among other things, the Touareg featured a hill descent and hill ascent setting that automatically engaged low gear when you climbed and kept the vehicle in low when you were descending – in low range. Brakes not required on the way down, in other words. These two features were standard equipment on all models and meant for off-road duty only.
The Touareg has always been a luxury-ute, and standard equipment included dual zone climate control, heated front seats, tire-pressure monitoring system, 17-inch wheels and tires, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 60/40-folding rear seat, rear passenger ventilation and one-touch-up/down power windows.
Five adults could fit reasonably comfortably, and you could also order "cricket" leather upholstery, an upgraded sound system, the aforementioned air suspension, parking assist, and a heated steering wheel.
There was also an optional navi package, heated rear seats, rear window sunshades and 12-way power front seats with upgraded airbags.
Just one safety recall to report, and it concerns all Touaregs built from 2007 to 2009. Apparently, the roof-mounted spoiler can work itself loose, possibly fall off the car, and result in all kinds of mayhem.
On the other hand, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has at least 34 technical service bulletins on file for this generation of Touareg, and they run the gamut. From transmission "delays" while accelerating, to non-functioning ignition coils, to doors that won't lock, to a wonky fuel delivery system, to the inevitable electrical glitches. Perhaps it's because the Touareg is an off-road vehicle and may have seen harder than usual duty, but either way, this seems to be an iffy vehicle when it comes to mechanical issues.
That seems to be confirmed by Consumer Reports, which describes the Touareg's reliability as "subpar." Some comments from owners: "Too many electrical issues, high maintenance costs," "gas guzzler," "elegant fit and finish, comfortable ride." Premature tire wear seems to be an issue as well.
Market research company J.D. Power is similarly lukewarm about the 2007 Touareg. While it likes the vehicle's interior amenities, overall performance and comfort, it seems to fall short in areas such as powertrain dependability, overall mechanical quality and initial quality. This latter item is based on owners' experiences in the first 90 days of ownership and monitors things like breakdown frequency, hard-to-understand controls and any malfunctions. The best J.D. Power can muster for the Touareg is a "below-average" rating for vehicle dependability.
From a brand-new base price of more than $51,000 in 2007, the Touareg has dropped by over half in the intervening four years. These days, you can buy one in the low to mid-$20,000 range. The V-8 version is valued at $3,000 to $4,000 more than the V-6.
2007 Volkswagen Touareg
Original Base Price: $51,525; Black Book: $24,125-$26,375; Red Book: $21,100-$25,200
Engine: 3.6-litre V-6/4.2-litre V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 280 hp/265 lb-ft for V-6; 340 hp/324 lb-ft for V-8
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 15.1 city/11.0 highway (V-6); premium gas
Alternatives: Acura MDX, BMW X5 3.0, Land Rover LR3, Mercedes-Benz ML350, Audi Q7