2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Chris Chase
Volkswagen’s history as a builder of light trucks is a short one: it started in 1940 with production of the Kubelwagen military vehicle which was based on a modified Beetle chassis. In the late 1950s, VW developed pickup and cargo versions of the Transporter van. Then, in 1973, the Thing, a Kubelwagen look-a-like, was sold here for a couple of years, and in 1980, a pickup version of the Rabbit attempted to penetrate the North American market. However, VW wouldn’t build a truck with serious appeal until 2004, when the Touareg joined the premium SUV segment.
The Touareg SUV debuted in mid-2003, but there seems to be some discrepancy as to whether those first trucks were 2003 or 2004 models.
This Volkswagen shared many of its structural elements with the Porsche Cayenne. Power was supplied by a choice of engines: V6 models got a 3.2-litre motor making 220 horsepower and 224 lb-ft of torque; V8 models used a 4.2-litre engine rated at 306 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque.
In 2005, the base Touareg got a power boost: the V6 engine gained a few horses for a total of 240, while eight-cylinder models now had 310 horsepower. The big news was the addition of a 5.0-litre V10 turbodiesel engine that made 310 hp and a whomping 553 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 r.p.m.
That diesel was short-lived, however, as it was gone by 2006. There was more power again however for 2007 with the replacement of the V6 with a new 3.6-litre motor rated at 280 horsepower; the V8 retained its 4.2-litre displacement but gained 40 horsepower for a total of 350.
2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge
The 2008 model got refreshed looks inside and out, and was referred to as Touareg 2. In 2009, diesel power returned with the addition of a 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine making 221 hp and 407 lb-ft of torque; the V8 engine was discontinued.
A rather hefty curb weight – even base Touaregs weighed in at around 5,000 pounds, or 2,300 kg – meant that the Touareg did not enjoy favourable fuel consumption ratings. Expect an older V6 model to use at least 14.6/10.3 L/100 km (city/highway), while V8 models carry ratings of 17.3/11.8 L/100 km. In 2005, the diesel V10 was the economy champion, with ratings of 13.8/9.2. The newer, 3.6-litre V6 is rated at 15.1/11 L/100 km, while the 2008-and-newer diesel V6 is downright thrifty for a vehicle this large, with ratings of 10.2/8.0 L/100 km.
Road salt is not a friend to the Touareg’s optional air suspension; the fittings and hoses that provide pneumatic pressure to the wheels are prone to corrosion, which leads to leaks and the potential for a very expensive repair. Readat VWVortex.com for details about the problem as well as a pictorial how-to on replacing the fittings yourself. This is a good time to mention that air suspension systems are notoriously and universally expensive to maintain over the long term.
2007 Volkswagen Touareg V6; photos by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge
In the Problems/Bugs section at ClubTouareg.com, there’s a lengthy discussion about a rough downshift from the automatic transmission when decelerating after a long highway drive.
A mouldy/stale smell from the ventilation system and/or moisture in the front passenger footwell is most likely caused by a clogged air conditioning condenser drain line.
Read this thread for information about wiggy tire pressure monitoring sensors.
If you have trouble shifting a Touareg out of “Park,” it could be due to an electrical connector becoming damaged by the driveshaft.
A groaning or humming sound from the front end is likely a bad front differential.
Driveshafts are an issue, too. Here’s one of many related threads at ClubTouareg.com.
at VWVortex.com lists many common Touareg faults.
Consumer Reports (CR) notes these issues, and also mentions problems with climate control systems, squeaking and vibrations from the brakes, door and tailgate latches, stereos and navigation systems and almost any component that runs on electricity. Overall, CR gives the Touareg a much worse than average used vehicle rating.
2004 Volkswagen Touareg (top, by Greg Wilson); 2007 Volkswagen Touareg V6 (bottom, by Jil McIntosh). Click image to enlarge
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, the Touareg scored four stars each for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impacts, and five stars each for front and rear seat occupant protection in side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) didn’t crash test the Touareg.
The Touareg was introduced during VW’s Delusions of Grandeur phase, when a Volkswagen with a starting price north of $50,000 seemed logical to someone at VW HQ in Wolfsburg. Note that the starting MSRP dropped about $8,500 between 2004 and 2009. According to Canadian Black Book, used Touareg values range from $18,650 for a 2004 V6 model to $51,575 for a 2009 V8 model in Execline trim and with the optional navigation system. Black Book lists values specific to the old V10 TDI model ($33,500 for a 2004 and $38,325 for a 2005; note that this model was worth more than $80,000(!) when it was new) but no numbers specific to the newer V6 TDI (it is listed for the 2010 model year, but resale values aren’t available yet). While the V10 TDI model would be cool to own for its motor’s prodigious torque, the more-efficient and more-recent V6 TDI is the most desirable model, in my mind.
Naturally, the Volkswagen is far less expensive than the structurally-similar Porsche Cayenne. That either makes the Touareg a good deal for a nice SUV with great German genes, or an overpriced vehicle from a company that used to specialize in inexpensive vehicles.
As with many complicated luxury vehicles, buying a used Touareg with little to no remaining warranty coverage is something best left to buyers with deep pockets. If you can manage the maintenance, however, the Touareg is a rare SUV that combines satisfying on-road performance and off-road ability.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) April, 2010:
2007-2009:On certain vehicles, the fastening struts on the roof edge spoiler may develop cracks over time, which could allow the spoiler to become loose and detach from the vehicle. Should this occur, the spoiler could cause injury by striking bystanders or could become an obstacle to other drivers, possibly resulting in a vehicle crash. Correction: Dealers will install reinforcement wedges to the roof edge spoiler.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008019; Units affected: 4
2008: On certain vehicles, the fuel supply line may leak at a connector located within the engine compartment. Fuel leakage, in the presence of an ignition source, could result in a fire. Correction: Dealers will replace the fuel supply line.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004259; Units affected: 882
2004-2005: Certain vehicles do not comply with the requirements of CMVSS 120. The tire pressure label, located on the driver’s side B-pillar, does not indicate the vehicle GVWR and GAWR or the recommended wheel rim size. The tire size, rim size and inflation pressure information was also not given on the compliance certification label. However, the combination of the tire information label and the certification label adjacent to each other on the driver side B-pillar provides the GAWR, GVWR, tire size and inflation pressure information. Correction: Since this does not pose any safety risk, no corrective action is required.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004187; Units affected: 2,872 (includes other models)
2004: Certain vehicles do not comply with the requirements of CMVSS 114. The steering wheel does not lock when the key is removed from the ignition switch using the optionally provided override device that permits key removal in the event of electrical system failure or when the transmission is not in the PARK position. Correction: Since this does not pose any safety risk, no corrective action is required.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004163; Units affected: 1,684
2004: On certain vehicles, the rear seat safety belt latch attachment bolt may be insufficiently riveted, which could result in a reduced capability of the belt latch to withstand the applied loads. During a crash, the occupant may not be restrained as intended, which could result in injuries. Correction: Dealer will inspect and, if necessary, replace the seat belt buckle.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003177; Units affected: 63
2004: On certain vehicles, improperly routed Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) wiring harness may contact the parking brake cable spring. If this occurs, the TPMS wiring circuit may be interrupted, resulting in an inoperative TPMS and a potential short-to-ground condition that could result in a fire. Correction: Dealer will re-route the TPMS wiring harness.
Crash test results
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.