A $4000 price jump also separates the old from the new Touareg. Volkswagen's approach on the 2011 Touareg is to offer Acura-like standard equipment. A $45,270 Touareg VR6 FSI Sport includes all-wheel drive, a rearview camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, HIDs with Adaptive Front-lighting System, and a navigation system with an 8-inch screen. Try building an Audi Q7 with some of those features and watch the price shoot skyward. Jump to the Touareg's Lux trim for $3850 if you want features like a panoramic sunroof, Vienna leather seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, wood trim, 12-way power driver's seat, and an electric rear seat release.

Go full out with the Executive trim and you'll get 20-inch alloy wheels, heated rear seats, keyless access and push-button start, upgraded sound system, and sensors to prevent you from scuffing your $54,820 Volkswagen's front and rear bumpers. The TDI is priced $3500 higher for each trim level.

The VR6 drives well and will likely account for most Touareg sales. Power comes from a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 producing 265 pound-feet of torque. Moving from 0-60 mph on a highway on-ramp will take 7.4 seconds, according to VW. At wide open throttle, the engine sounds energetic but the hefty Touareg doesn't feel that quick. Steering is communicative, the brakes are responsive, and as long as you don't treat the Touareg like a GTI, body roll is kept under control. Wind noise is reduced as much as can be expected for an SUV like this.

Much the same is true for the diesel (legal in all 50 states), which has the added bonus of a highway fuel range allowing a drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back, with about 200 miles left in the 26.4-gallon tank-assuming you match the anticipated 28 mpg highway rating. The engine note isn't as engaging as that of the VR6, but the diesel is suitably quiet. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is said to take 7.9 seconds. Power figures are unchanged from last year's model at 225 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. All Touaregs have a 7700-pound towing capacity, provided you buy the $500 trailer hitch.