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2019 Volkswagen Touareg review

VW’s most advanced and tech-laden production car yet

VW Touareg review
(Image: © Phil Hall)

Our Verdict

The fully loaded VW Touareg impresses in many areas and has plenty of outstanding tech that doesn't disappoint. Its off-road credentials are a little disappointing, but the Touareg is incredibly refined on the road.

For

  • Well equipped
  • Very spacious inside

Against

  • DSG gearbox can feel a little hesitant
  • Hard and scratchy surfaces dotted around the cabin

The third-generation Touareg is not only Volkswagen's flagship SUV, but also a chance for VW to showcase it's latest tech. With the departure of the luxury Phaeton sedan from VW's line-up, it's also the company's only really high-end luxury car. 

Volkswagen Touareg 2019: Design

  • Third generation has a much smarter design
  • Weight has dropped by a sizeable 234lbs to 2 tons
  • Weight saved in the powertrain, cooling, exhaust, electrics and seats
VW Touareg: Key specs

Engines: 3.0-liter 6-cylinder petrol or 3.0-liter 6-cylinder diesel
Power output: 335bhp (TSI 340PS) | 282bhp (TDI 286PS)
Max speed: 155mph (TSI 340PS) | 146mph (TDI 286PS)
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds (TSI 340PS) | 6.1 seconds (TDI 286PS)
Fuel economy: 25.4mpg (TSI 340PS) | 32.5mpg (TDI 286PS)

Compared to the plain looks of the outgoing model, the third-generation car is much smarter, with a large slatted grill at the front and subtle svelte lines that sharpen up the overall look of the car. 

As you’d expect, VW’s increased the size of the new car over the outgoing model, increasing in length by just over 3-inches to 16ft, while it’s now 1.7-inches to 6.5ft, though the weight has dropped by a sizeable 234lbs to 2 tons. While there’s no denying this is still a large and heavy car, the amount of weight saved is impressive. 

VW has managed to achieve this by shaving weight off almost all most aspects of the car, opting for aluminium for the suspension, a predominantly aluminium body, while weight has been saved in the powertrain, cooling, exhaust, electrics and seats. 

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VW Touareg review

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VW Touareg review

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Volkswagen Touareg 2019: Interior

  • Smart and inoffensive interior design
  • A massive 15-inch touchscreen display dominates the dash
  • There’s plenty of space up front and for passengers in the rear

Step inside the Touareg and it’s classic VW, with a smart and inoffensive interior design. There are some nice soft-touch materials used on the dash, while R-Line spec cars sport some shiny bits of trim that appear to glow blue. That said, the semi-gloss finish used at the rear of the central console feels a bit plasticky, while there’s some other hard and scratchy surfaces dotted around the cabin, such as the door bins, that feel at odds with the premium market the Touareg is aimed at. 

The same can be said for the steering wheel. It’s not much different from the one found on the Golf, and while there’s nothing wrong with the steering wheel on the Golf, you’d expect something a bit more special for your money.

What is a bit special is the visual drama of the Touareg’s dashboard, with a massive 15-inch touchscreen display that dominates the dash which is supplemented by a 12-inch digital driver’s display, with digital dials and the sat nav displayed in the centre, though the information can be configured in multiple ways.

This is a standard combination on R-Line Tech variants, but other models come with a smaller 9-inch touchscreen display in the centre, which is still plenty large enough. Though not quite as impressive as the 15-inch display, it does have physical buttons on either side of the display. 

While this might seem a bit of a disadvantage, it’s actually the opposite, with the climate control one of these physical controls. With the 15-inch display, it requires a couple of presses of the display to make any changes in temperature and just feels a bit awkward when driving compared to a simple flick of a physical button. 

That said, the quality of the 15-inch display is stunning and incredibly clear, while it’s also very responsive with no worse lag than your typical smartphone.

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VW Touareg review

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VW Touareg review

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The forward part of the central console is finished in a pleasing gloss black that looks very slick, but you’ll find it easily shows up finger marks. Tucked away in the soft-release compartment underneath is a USB charging port and as standard on all versions of the Touareg, a wireless charging port. 

Speaking of smartphones, the Touareg is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while there’s also a WiFi hotspot that has capacity for up to eight devices to be connected at once. There’s plenty of other tech on offer as well. There’s a built-in thermal imaging camera that gives the Touareg ‘Night Vision’, allowing it to detect humans and animals when driving at night, helping you avoid them if necessary. 

Elsewhere there’s Roadwork Lane Assist that cleverly takes control of the Touareg’s steering, braking and acceleration for you at speeds up to 37mph, a head-up display that relays key driving info onto the windscreen (including navigation), trailer assist, park assist and 360-degree cameras. 

The Volkswagen Touareg is a large car, so it goes without saying that there’s plenty of space up front and for passengers in the rear, with generous leg and headroom. You’ll happily be able to whisk yourself and three adults around in comfort for long periods if needed. If passengers in the rear really want to kick back, then they’ll appreciate the fact that the Touareg's rear seats can be tilted backward to three angles. 

As well as plenty of space for passengers, the Touareg also has a generous amount of loadbay space, with 28 cubic feet of loadspace, while folding the seats down gets you a whopping 63.5 cubic feet of space. 

Volkswagen Touareg 2019: On the road

  • Available with two diesel engines and one petrol
  • Optional adaptive air suspension makes the ride very refined
  • Off-road credentials are a little diluted

The Touareg is available with the choice of two V6 diesel power units, producing either 228bhp or 282bhp, while there's now the choice of a 335bhp V6 petrol engine as well. Also expect a lumpy 4.0-liter V8 turbo diesel engine with 415bhp coming later. 

This is a car that sees first priority is comfort rather than outright driver fun. While the steering inputs can feel a little vague, spec the Touareg with optional adaptive air suspension, the ride is very refined. It’ll happily waft along, gliding over bumps and road imperfections without jolting you or your occupants, while the driving position is incredibly comfy as well. It also feels nice and brisk when you put your foot down, and while the automatic DSG gearbox can feel a little hesitant, the engines are quiet and refined. 

Its off-road credentials are a little diluted, though. The good news is that there’s permanent four-wheel drive, but because there’s no rear locking differential, the wheels will spin unnecessarily should you take it off-road. There are still four off-road modes though (Snow, Sand, Gravel and Expert), but this is essentially electronic (the ECU and steering maps tweaked) and not mechanical. 

Verdict

The fully loaded 2019 Touareg impresses in many areas and has plenty of outstanding tech that doesn't disappoint. Despite the niggles regarding some of the finishes to the interior, it's also big and comfy on the inside as well. Its off-road credentials are a little disappointing, but the Touareg is incredibly refined on the road. 

It might not be as striking as rivals, but the subtle design makes it a good alternative for those looking for a slightly more understated but large SUV.