2014 Volkswagen Touareg: Dynamic Technologies

By Sue Mead, June 14th, 2014

A new, sport-luxury R-Line trim option and new features available on higher-end trims are the updates for the 2014 Touareg, Volkswagen's midsize SUV. Plus, the Touareg now offers a supercharged hybrid powertrain option.

Manufacturer photo: The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg offers advanced, fuel-saving technologies, a premium driving experience, and now, a dynamic new R-Line trim
Manufacturer photo: The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg offers advanced, fuel-saving technologies, a premium driving experience, and now, a dynamic new R-Line trim

VW's Touareg is a pretty conventional vehicle, with the exception of some cool technologies both inside the cabin and under the hood.

With a nice, rounded exterior shape that evokes the look of VW's smaller hatchback models (think Golf and Rabbit), Touareg is a family friendly ride.

The full-frontal view shows a split grille slotted with horizontal chrome bars and bisected by a strip of body-colored material that wraps around the sides of the vehicle. Headlamps are rather narrow, an unusual contrast to the new bigger-is-better styles on so many of today's autos.

From the side, the Touareg sports a low character line across the bottom third of the doors, which draws the eye back to the wraparound taillamps wrought in an unusual, organic shape that is almost trapezoidal -- but not quite. Dual chrome-tipped triangular tail pipes and an integrated spoiler at the top of the liftgate complete the rear end.

Manufacturer photo: The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg offers advanced, fuel-saving technologies, a premium driving experience, and now, a dynamic new R-Line trim

strong>The cabin interior feels upscale: There are nice textures and surfaces throughout, including faux-leather upholstery that is standard on entry-level models. A leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel (with integrated controls), power heated and adjustable front seats, and an eight-speaker, six-CD, touchscreen stereo system add to the standard creature comforts. The 2014 Touareg offers an expansive panoramic glass sunroof; standard in the Lux, Executive, and Hybrid models, the new sunroof is 350 percent larger than the sunroof in the previous model.

In the driver's view is a symmetric but somewhat busy layout of knobs, gauges, and controls. Behind the wheel are dual tachometer and speedometer gauges, along with a driver information display, including data on hybrid motor performance (for models with the hybrid powertrain). To the right is the touchscreen for audio and the navigation system, and below that is another set of knobs and controls to manage vehicle technology.

One improvement worth mentioning is the rear seating area that now offers 2.7 inches more legroom thanks to a longer wheelbase. The SUV can carry up to 64 cubic feet of cargo (reduced to half when the rear seats are upright), and the 40/20/40-split rear seat can recline, as well as slide forward or back by 6.3 inches.

Drivers can choose one of three powertrains: First up is the standard 3.6-liter V-6 making 280 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque; EPA fuel economy estimates are 17/23 mpg.

Next is a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel-powered engine that delivers 240 horses and a whopping 406 lb.-ft. of torque; mileage estimates are 20/29 mpg.

Manufacturer photo: The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg offers advanced, fuel-saving technologies, a premium driving experience, and now, a dynamic new R-Line trim

A supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 Hybrid layout comes with a gas-electric motor combined output of 380 horsepower and 428 lb.-ft. of torque. The Touareg Hybrid can travel up to 31 miles on electric power alone; overall fuel economy estimate is 24 mpg. The hybrid powertrain also features a standard Stop-Start system, which automatically stops the engine during idling (such as at a red light). When the brake is released, the engine re-starts.

All Touaregs are mated to an eight-speed automatic; the top two gears are tuned to increase fuel economy at cruising speeds. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard on all Touaregs. Its towing capacity is rated at 7,700 pounds with the available towing package.

We drove the newest Touareg with VW's hybrid powertrain. Based off the same platform as its luxury-level sibling, the Porsche Cayenne, the first thing we noticed on the Touareg is the premium look and feel of the tasteful exterior and the upscale interior with wood and metal trims.

The five-seater rides on an all-independent suspension with control arms at the front and rear, aluminum-alloy upper links, and long-travel steel coil springs. Its ride is responsive, comfortable, and confidence-inspiring, with a sport mode that adds gusto to shifting and performance.

The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is seamless and is set up with a well-balanced 40/60 front/rear torque split. Although it is not set up with a low-range set of gears, its AWD system and angles of approach and departure make it a competent player in the backcountry.

Manufacturer photo: The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg offers advanced, fuel-saving technologies, a premium driving experience, and now, a dynamic new R-Line trim

Touareg's power steering has a variable-ratio setup for a more controlled road feel and we appreciated the crisp and somewhat heavily weighted steering with its German-engineered feel.

Starting at $44,570, Touareg is available in five trim levels: Sport, Sport with Navigation, Lux, R-Line, and Executive. The Touareg Hybrid is priced at $64,745.

Specifications

Base price $64,745 (as tested: $65,655)
Curb weight 5,135 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26.4 gal.
Horsepower (net) 380 at 5500 rpm
Motor type Supercharged V-6 and Parallel Hybrid Motor
Overall length 188.8 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 428 at 3000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD SUV
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