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Car Review

Volkswagen Touareg review

£68,735 - £80,295
Published: 02 Nov 2023
VW’s flagship SUV is a strong all-rounder and hugely capable both on- and off-road, but it's no cheaper than its premium badged rivals

Good stuff

Handsome looks, improved cabin quality post facelift, pleasing on-road manners, impressive off-road capability

Bad stuff

More premium rivals barely more expensive, irritating steering wheel and temperate controls


What is it?

VW’s flagship SUV. Launched back in 2002 and now in its third generation, it’s the most intelligent and technologically advanced production car to come out of Wolfsburg, no less, and with the Touareg R, a product line that also sports VW’s most powerful production model. Put simply, it’s the German firm’s stylish answer to the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Porsche Cayenne.

Built from the incredibly flexible ‘MLB Evo’ parts matrix, the Touareg uses the same architecture as the Q7, Bentley BentaygaLamborghini Urus and Cayenne. That means there’s aluminium suspension, a body that’s largely aluminium too, and a whole lot of other weight saving in the powertrain, cooling, exhaust, electrics, seats and... well, you get the gist.

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It’s certainly got some presence…

The Touareg's somewhat dumpy looks were sharpened up with the arrival of the third generation in 2018, with more powerful and svelte lines that added an air of sophistication and modernity, and the recent mid-life facelift has improved on that.

The standard facelift fare is all there, with fresh bumpers front and rear, as well as new matrix headlights which use no less than 38,432 LEDs to light the way ahead. There’s also a new rear lightbar and illuminated VW logo (spec dependent), plus new 20-, 21- and 22-inch alloy wheel designs to smarten the overall look.

It also gets an updated version of VW’s Innovision Cockpit including a 12-inch digital instrument cluster and 15-inch touchscreen, plus wireless app integration, improved voice control, and softer touch materials around the cabin, addressing one of our pre-facelift complaints. More over on the Interior tab.

What's under the bonnet?

The facelifted Touareg is available with five powertrains, each with a 3.0-litre V6 power unit: one turbocharged petrol engine (335bhp), two turbodiesel engines (228bhp and 282bhp) and two plug-in hybrids (376bhp and 456bhp). As with the pre-facelift version, all get four-wheel drive and an eight-speed auto gearbox.

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Volkswagen claims that the ride has been improved as part of the mid-life facelift courtesy of revamped suspension, while a new roof load sensor improves stability when carrying a roofbox. All but the basic trim get adaptive suspension.

As ever, there’s the full suite of safety systems, including Travel Assist (assisted driving up to a maximum speed), a 360-degree camera display, Park Assist Plus with remote parking capability (through an app, of course), and Night Vision (via a thermal imaging camera).

How much does it cost?

Prices start from £67,640, which gets you the lesser-powered of the two 3.0-litre diesels in (confusingly) mid-spec Black Edition trim, which also makes it more expensive than the entry-level Audi Q7.

The 456bhp plug-in hybrid in all-singing all-dancing R trim costs £80,370. Full details over on the Buying tab.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

If you’re not obsessed with badges, it’s a real contender: VW’s flagship model is a properly impressive powerhouse

The Touareg had its biggest and best makeover with the arrival of this third generation, and its mid-life facelift is very much evolutionary rather than revolutionary. No big surprise there.

It's more than capable of holding its own on the road, now in utter refinement, and it’s highly impressive off the beaten track too. But it doesn’t come cheap, and many people will undoubtedly be swayed by its more premium badged rivals – particularly the cheaper Audi Q7.

If you’re not obsessed with badges, it’s a real contender: VW’s flagship model is a properly impressive powerhouse, yet more understated and less ostentatious than rivals. Only you can decide if that’s enough.

The Rivals

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