2017 Volkswagen Touareg Execline 4MOTION

Test Drive: 2017 Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen is known for making cars for the masses, but it sometimes delves into luxury territory.

Such is the case with the Touareg, the automaker’s mid-size sport utility vehicle. The luxury treatment is especially present in the Execline trim tested here, with a price tag of nearly $70,000.

However, even a base Touareg tops $50,000, making it a big step up for the masses.

Another knock against it for 2017 is that, unlike previous model years, consumers have but one engine choice for the Touareg.

A diesel powerplant offered in years’ prior is not available in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal.

What that leaves the Touareg with is a 3.6-litre V6 engine rated at 280 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque.

As the lone offering, the V6 is plenty powerful, especially when paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic. The Touareg’s gearbox also features a sport mode, which modifies the way the transmission shifts and adapts to various driving styles.

It’s a combination that works well together and the smooth transmission makes the Touareg a pleasant experience for the driver.

It also is equipped with Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, with drive settings controlled via a knob in the centre console. Under normal conditions, the 4MOTION system sends 40 per cent of power to the front wheel and 60 per cent to the rear.

The Touareg’s V6 burns through premium gasoline at a rate of 13.8 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving and 10.3 L/100 km on the highway, for a combined average of 12.1 L/100 km.

During a week of testing that featured more city than highway driving, I averaged 15.0 L/100 km.

While the Touareg’s design may be a bit dated despite a recent refresh, it is nonetheless an attractive one.

The curvy silhouette is capped at both ends by new-look fenders that feature new LED light treatments, an ever-growing trend.

The lower rear fascia is accented by oversized dual exhausts, but there’s something about the overall rear design that looks awkward to the eye.

Once inside, the Touareg features quality materials with excellent fit and finish.

Keep in mind that the Touareg seats only five passengers, which may be a strike against it for some potential buyers.

But if room for five is all you need, then this SUV delivers with a comfortable cabin, one that is kept very bright thanks to the enormous panoramic sunroof.

The cabin is also fairly quiet on the road, something you would expect from a vehicle that competes against higher-end brands including Acura, BMW and Lexus.

All of the controls, as you expect from a German brand, are laid out in an efficient and logical fashion, which makes it pretty straightforward to use. Except the button for the heated steering wheel! I looked everywhere around the steering column and centre console before finally locating it above the infotainment screen. Not a very logical place in my opinion.

Other than that button’s location, the one negative in the Touareg’s interior is the infotainment system, which is a bit dated. Having tested the Passat the week before, the difference between the two is noticeable. One would imagine that the system is due for an upgrade with VW’s latest technology sometime soon.

But despite being a little out-dated, there is nothing inherently wrong with the system or its functionality. I found my time driving around town in the Touareg to be pleasant, with a comfortable ride on most surfaces. Road and wind noise is kept to a minimum in the interior.

The Touareg’s height results in good driving sightlines, but be thankful for the backup camera because it’s not always easy to see out the back.

The Touareg’s size means that it offers excellent cargo capacity, with 906 litres of storage space behind the rear seats, a number that doubles when the back bench is lowered. In my test vehicle, lowering those seats was completed at the touch of a button. There are two buttons in the cargo area, one that drops 2/3 of the bench, the second controls the remaining 1/3. Simply hit the button for the desired section and it drops down in seconds.

The Touareg has many appealing qualities and features, but also some things that may have potential buyers shying away from this SUV. And the fact that Volkswagen is bringing a three-row SUV to market shortly could take even more shine off the Touareg’s lustre.

Positioned between the midsize Tiguan and the new full-size Atlas, Touareg is considered to be the middle child. And we all know that being in the middle isn’t necessarily the easiest place to be.

2017 Volkswagen Touareg Execline 4MOTION
Price as tested: $67,355
Freight: $1,795
Configuration: Front engine/Four-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.6-litre V6 / 8-Speed automatic with Tiptronic
Power/torque: 280 horsepower/ 266 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Premium (100 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 12.1 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 15.0 L/100 km
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Lexus RX, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volvo XC90

Related links:

Volkswagen Canada
The Car Connection (US)

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