2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI. Click image to enlarge
Inside, the Touareg demonstrates all the best traits associated with VW over the past couple decades: solid build quality, soft touch materials throughout and an understated simplicity in its design. The cabin is modern and easy to enter, and all the controls are well laid out and easy to use. Upgraded models feature luxurious burled walnut accents, but even the metallic trim in base models breaks up the mostly black interior with bright accents. At centre stage is an eight-inch touchscreen interface that allows access to the hard-drive-based navigation, Bluetooth phone, satellite radio and 8-speaker (eight-speaker) audio system.
The list of features goes on, but the Touareg’s Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS will also make it more appealing to safety-conscious families, though it has yet to face the NHTSA’s regimen.
Contributing to its safety performance are standard stability control, front, side, and curtain airbags and anti-whiplash headrests. As with many other mid-size SUVs, the Touareg is an ideal height for getting a child into a child seat, but the Touareg also has child window locks that can control each side individually so that older children need not be restricted just because of a younger sibling’s presence.
In every way, the Touareg was comfortable and spacious, its rear legroom sufficient at 931 mm and headroom at 989 mm, which allows adults to sit in comfort even if situated behind a tall driver. Aside from the dimensions, the seats themselves were excellent at every position except centre rear, with eight-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats with manual lumbar support. If other VWs are anything to go by, expect them to be comfortable even on long journeys. Cargo space is 909 L in the trunk and 1,812 L with the rear seats folded.
If there is one aspect of the Touareg that is intimidating, it is its price. Base price is $48,875 for the 3.6-litre V6 and can climb as high as $63,685 for a fully loaded Execline TDI diesel, with additional standalone options available to further top up the price. At $53,575 with the 3.0 TDI in base Comfortline trim ($55,270 with freight and A/C tax, which is how our tester was equipped), it justifies the price of entry with a gem of a power plant, an impressive chassis and a long list of standard equipment and interior quality that also matches the luxury appeal of many premium branded utility vehicles. While Volkswagen is not a luxury brand, the Touareg is every bit the luxury vehicle, and with a choice of efficient gas and diesel power plants, it is no surprise that it earned a victory in its AJAC category (SUV $35K–$60K) and also took home the prize for overall Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.
Pricing: 2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Comfortline