2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2008 Volkswagen Touareg

The version known as ‘Two’ carries with it two distinct possibilities in the ‘World of Stuff’: a tour de force, or a dead horse. While the VW Touareg 2 version seems as early in its ‘ute career as an Avril Lavigne Greatest Hits compilation, the concept of New and Improved this soon in the game must mean that there has been some major improvements put into motion. What it also means, to The Flying Fickle Finger of Interior Debate, is that any snigglies encountered with the previous generation should be long gone. This week’s test mule is a Touareg 2 V6, with the Highline and Sport V6 option packages. Set your wallet dent at $60,475, plus freight.

Cabin

2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6. Click image to enlarge
Controls

The T-2 is definitely worth a good owner’s manual read before your initial jaunt. (Yes, it’s a happy ending.) This particular configuration employs a manual tilt/tele wheel, with cruise control tabs to the left, and volume controls to the upper right. Below the quiet/loud keys are the tabs that control the display menus, located straight ahead in the instrument cluster. A track wheel/cursor assists with the navigation, and there is plenty to map out. In addition to service intervals, the menu pages include convenience features for the adjustment of lighting, alarms, exterior mirrors, even a winter tire setting, which is actually nothing more than a speed warning. The track wheel can also navigate through your audio system presets.

Exterior power mirrors are heated, with a power fold feature that’s a little too easy to engage, usually while fiddling in traffic. VW should be intent on better detents for this console-mounted knob. The right-hand wiper stalk also controls the rear wipe/wash, while the windscreen uses a rain sensor with adjustable sensitivity. Bi-Xenon headlamps get the bright right, with an Auto setting.

The Electronic Parking Assistance system uses an LED array at the top of the centre stack. The closer you get, the bigger the light show. A more basic array is found at the rear upper headliner. Fore and aft, the system also uses the expected warbling to interrupt your cell phone convo.

2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6. Click image to enlarge

Front window panes use their brains, with Auto lift/drop, while the rear units are manual, in the sense that you must hold the power switch down/up with your fickle finger. Below the driver’s side window controls are the power keys for the fuel lid and rear hatch. The parking brake is a floor-mount pedal pusher, placed well ahead of any egress/ingress duress. Unique to the Auto HVAC system is the ability to adjust both temperature and fan speed individually for the driver and front passenger. Additional venting is found at the rear of the centre console.

The 6-speed Tiptronic automatic can operate in Normal, Sport, and manu-shift modes. The high and low ranges for the 4XMOTION all-wheel drive are accessed by pushing down on the recessed dial, near the power window control knob. Power lock controls are positioned at the door release levers. Vee-Dub wants you to get SIRIUS, with satellite radio on board. A good thing, since the audio head unit is a single disc job, with nary an MP3 auxiliary jack in sight.

2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6. Click image to enlarge
Convenience

Go on, get it dirty. If there’s a cubby, then the T-2 has a removable rubbery bladder for easy clean, even in the side door pockets. The front dual cupholder gets staggered sizes, each with four spring-loaded cinchers, and a removable rubber cupbed. In the mood for a Gulpmeister cup of your favorite softie? Flip open the first step of the centre console topper, and flip up the Super Size Me Edition, with rubber bladder cinch. The rear seat gets a slide-out dual cupholder in the flip-down armrest, with no cinchers. Go with the T-2 if you want your electronics to live.

There are two 12-volt DC powerpoints near the shifter, a third at the rear of the console, and two more in the cargo compartment, which are joined by a 115-volt AC plug-in. Dual panel visors make the T-2 a cinch for putting on the blinders. Speaking of blinding, the light that emanates from the perimeter lighting of the dual vanity mirrors is most pleasing for roadside zit-pops.

The locking glove-box has an adjustable cooling vent, which seems grand, until you feel the flock-lined interior where rubber should be preferred to tread. The centre console box has similar lining, with a removable rubber flooring pad. A tip-out drawer is found at the rear of the centre console, perfect for cell phone stowage. The overhead console houses the Homelink transmitter keys, LED clock display with compass, and a dial control to allow for varying amounts of sunroof-open sizing. The interior rear-view mirror gets auto-dimming. Rear seat passengers get oversized rectangle reading lamps near the door openings. Rear seatbacks get leatherish storage pockets.

Fit and finish

How do you say ‘spot-on’ in German? The T-2 makes few apologies, with tight tolerances, slick switches, and good grains for plastics, leather, and authentic Walnut trim. For the Rant, skip ahead to Spare/Trunk/Cargo.

Safety

The T-2 is number 5 on the charts, as in a 5-star crash performer in frontal and side impacts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The T doesn’t stand for tippy, with a 4-star score for rollover resistance. Dual frontal airbags are joined by front seat side-mount bags, with curtain protection front and rear. Interesting to note is that both front and rear outboard passengers receive the benefit of adjustable height for the seatbelt anchors.

2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6. Click image to enlarge
Seats

Cricket leather may sound a little hard to tan, let alone skin. Whatever the process or point of origin, the hides are comfortable, and well stitched. Front passengers get five-step heat, and 12-way power adjustment, with driver’s side memory for three pilots. As for the rear seats, the Rant is just ahead.

Spare/Trunk/Cargo

The tools and space saver spare are stowed in a clean fashion, though a hook to hold the floor up would be appreciated. Vee-Dub will change it for you, for the first 4 years or 80,000 klicks. The cargo floor gets robust flip-up cleats for cargo tie-down. The cargo cover is easy to position and remove. The Rant concerns the rear fold-down seatbacks, and their cumbersome headrest bunions. To effect a flat load floor, the headrests first need to be removed. Flip the bottom cushions forward, and plug the headrests into the holes that have just magically appeared on the lower seat cushions. Then, fold the seatbacks forward, and lock into place. Sounds simple enough – if you have a crew of three. A possible long-term concern is the longevity of the engineered Styrofoam-like biscuit of the lower seat cushion, which is glaringly obvious when the cushion is flipped forward.

2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6
2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 V6. Click image to enlarge

Avoid sharp cargo (pointy, not haute couture).

Engine

The 3.6-litre 280 horsepower V6 gets a longitudinal mounting, with plenty of access room for future service. Even the changeover of the serpentine belt drive would result in damage-free knuckles. Fluid levels are up high and proud, with E-Z Fill necks. The bonnet is held aloft with two gas struts.

Verdict

Like they say, 2 is better than 1. Outside of the immediate need for a proper rear seat system, with drop-down shingle headrests and materials that don’t dent/chip/flake off, the T-2 is a sequel worth the tire tap. 4.5 stars.

Next week: 2008 Volvo XC70

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