Let’s get one thing out of the way at the outset: the name.
Touareg. It’s an interesting name for a luxury SUV that’s big, bold and brimming with technology.
The word Touareg comes from the Tuareg people in the African Sahara, according to Darryll Harrison, Jr., manager of brand public relations for Volkswagen. The Tuareg people were known for their intelligence and innate ability to adapt to the challenging conditions of their desert environment.
“This ability to adapt to an ever-changing world is fitting for a vehicle like Touareg due to its ability to handle on- and off-road challenges in comfort,” Harrison said in an email this week.
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There you have it. Mystery solved. Oh, and it’s pronounced Too-ah-reg.
I drove the 2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Executive from Volkswagen’s press fleet. I could spend the rest of this and the next two car reviews itemizing the almost countless technological advances on the Touareg. Here the ones I used the most.
First was Side Assist. Many of today’s cars have some form of this, but I really liked the way it was executed by Volkswagen. Side Assist uses radar to watch out for traffic next to and behind the vehicle. When Side Assist detects a vehicle, yellow indicator lights on the side mirrors illuminate. What I liked was that you could see the lights in your peripheral vision. It was effective without being intrusive.
I also liked the Lane Assist feature and the way it gently vibrates the steering wheel to inform the driver that the vehicle has left the current drive lane without activating a turn signal. It’s very subtle, but just enough to get your attention.
Both Lane Assist and Side Assist are part of a new suite of driver assistance features that also include Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Assist and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Front Assist is Volkswagen’s forward collision warning system that warns the driver if the vehicle is too close to the vehicle ahead or if it detects a possible collision. It can also automatically apply the brakes.
The Touareg also features Area View, which uses four cameras to display an all-round view of the vehicle to help the driver while parking, off-road driving or to see cross-traffic ahead or behind the car.
Powering all this technology is a smooth and powerful 240-horsepower, turbocharged V-6 diesel engine. It generates 406 pound-feet of torque, and accelerating to highway speeds on a short entrance ramp is no problem. It does so quietly, too.
In fact, the cabin is luxury-car quiet and serene. It is big, open and spacious inside, much more so than the exterior hints at. The leather seats are supportive and comfortable and the panoramic sunroof brightens the interior.
The EPA-estimated fuel economy for the TDI Touareg is 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, giving this model a range of up to 765 highway miles from the large 26.4-gallon fuel tank. That will easily get you from Kanas City to Denver, with about 150 miles to spare.
As nice as the Touareg is, you might not want to stop to get out anyway.
Three years or 36,000 miles; 10 years or 100,000 miles powertrain warranty.
The base price of the Touareg TDI was $62,200. Options included the Executive Driver Assistance package with Adaptive Cruise Control with front assist and Lane Assist lane departure warning system. The sticker price, including destination, was $65,610.
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2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Executive
Engine: 3.0-liter, 240-horsepower turbo V-6 diesel engine with 406 pound-feet of torque.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive
Wheelbase/length: 113.9/188.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,919 pounds
Base price: $62,200
As driven: $65,610, including destination
MPG rating: 20 miles per gallon in city driving, 29 highway