Road Test: 2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2

Faster, Quieter, Better Looking

Allyson Harwood
Oct 5, 2007
Photographers: The Manufacturer
When we last spent time in a Volkswagen Touareg, it was during the year-long test of our 2004 Sport/Utility of the Year winner. We'd been impressed with its off-road prowess, highway comfort, and the amenities Volkswagen offered in its first-ever SUV. Now on the verge of bringing its second SUV to market (the Tiguan--pronounced "Tee-Gwan"--just as easy to pronounce as "Two-Reg"), Volkswagen has given the Touareg a nip and tuck for its fifth model year. VW execs assert there are more than 2200 changes to the midsize SUV, but the bottom line is this is the Touareg's midlife refresh.
Photo 2/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 front Exterior View
The Touareg 2's improvements mostly fall under one heading: refinement. It retains most of the same dimensions as the first-gen model (wheelbase, length/width/height, track widths, interior volume) plus identical off-road capability and towing capacity, but this evolution of the Touareg has several improvements worth mentioning.
While referred to as Touareg 2 by the manufacturer, the badges still read "Touareg." Whatever you call it, it now has redesigned headlights, grille, and bumpers, new, larger side mirrors, updated taillights and exhaust tips as well as bigger standard wheels (19 inch) for the V 8 and diesel V 10 models. Inside, there's a new instrument panel, 12 way power driver's seat, and new stereo interface (with standard Sirius Satellite Radio), plus options like keyless access and four-zone climate control.
Photo 3/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 interior View
As to mechanical upgrades, the Touareg 2 gets direct injection (FSI), improving fuel economy while increasing power. Early into the 2007 model year, the 240 horsepower, 3.2 liter V 6 was replaced with a 280 horse, 3.6 liter; that engine returns virtually unchanged for 2008. The FSI 4.2 liter V-8 became available later in the prior model year as well and returns with no modification and offers 350 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque. The torque-monster V 10 twin-turbo diesel, gone in 2006 and 2007, is back with 553 pound-feet of torque, but 2008 models will only be 43-state legal. However, there is good news. By the middle of the 2009 model year, the V 10 TDI will be replaced with a 50 state-legal 3.0 liter turbodiesel that uses urea injection (technology shared with Mercedes-Benz and Audi), a system VW claims will be as easy to refill as the windshield washer fluid. The four-wheel independent front and rear suspension systems are essentially the same, as are the four-wheel discs. Volkswagen's 4XMotion four-wheel-drive system, Hill Roll Back Assist, and Hill Descent Assist return essentially untouched, and the Touareg 2 is still offered with an optional air suspension. And, as before, four-wheel drive and ride height are controlled through knobs near the transmission shift lever on the center console.
The 2008 version of Volkswagen's Electronic Stabilization Program has several new features, most notably active rollover protection, dry-braking (which removes the water film from brake pads for shorter stops on wet surfaces), and ABS-Plus for better braking on loose surfaces like gravel or sand. ABS-Plus temporarily locks the wheels, pushing some of the gravel/sand underneath to form a wedge. This is said to shorten braking distances on uneven terrain by up to 20 percent. The Touareg also has the next-generation tire-pressure-monitoring system, which can inform the driver more quickly of a low or flat tire.
We sampled the new Touareg on a mix of twisting roads, wide-open highways, and off-road, where terrain varied from soft dirt to off-camber slickrock. Our top-of-the-line tester came equipped with the 4.2-liter V-8, four-corner air suspension, rear locking differential, and towing package, with a total price of $59,020. The new V-8 sounds more refined and smoother, with more seat-of-the-pants pep off the line. It growls when passing slow-movers on the highway, but we noticed a small transmission lag before downshifting. The cabin is noticeably quieter than the previous model, suggesting a healthy dose of sound-deadening material was added throughout. Likewise, the firm-yet-comfortable re-sculpted seats make the Touareg feel more luxurious than before. Off-road, the Touareg continues to impress, tackling obstacles that would scare off most $60,000 sport/utilities.
While all of the Touareg's refinements are positive ones, the one we're eager to try out (the V-6 turbodiesel) won't be here until 2009. But if the new diesel is anywhere near as good as the current one (and the VW guys claim it'll be fast, quiet, and a lot less expensive), the new Touareg 3.0 TDI is going to be the one to wait for.
Photo 4/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 front Exterior View
Photo 5/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 exterior View

Photo 6/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 rear Exterior View
Photo 7/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 rear Exterior View
Get Ready for the 2009 Tiguan
Photo 8/8   |   2008 Volkswagen Touareg 2 rear Exterior View
Ready to jump into the compact SUV market, VW will bring the smaller Tiguan to market late next year. The SUV will be just a tad shorter than a Honda CR V, measuring 174 inches long, 71 inches wide, and 66 inches tall, sitting on a 102.5 inch-long wheelbase (the CR V has a 103.1 inch wheelbase). Look for the Tiguan to come with a 200 horsepower, 2.0 liter turbocharged I 4 mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle is reported to weigh about 3500 pounds and fuel economy is most likely rate to around 21 mpg city, 28 highway. No doubt VW will offer its characteristic top-level fit and finish, and the vehicle's final pricing should fall around $25,000. To date, VW says it expects to sell 20,000 units in the U.S., but if the segment continues to grow (Honda will sell close to 300,000 CR Vs this year), we're told it could double that number. Some journalists have driven European-spec Tiguans in remote African deserts (see Ron Kiino's story at, but we expect to be driving a U.S. spec production vehicle by summer of next year.--Mark Williams

2008 VW Touareg 2
Location of final assembly Bratislava, Slovakia
Body style 4-door SUV
EPA size class Special purpose
Drivetrain layout Front engine, 4WD
Airbags Front, front side, side curtain
Engine type 11° V-6, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.50 x 3.80
Displacement, ci/L 220/3.6
Compression ratio 11.3:1
Valve gear DOHC, 4 valves/cyl, VVT
Fuel induction Sequential multipoint fuel injection, FSI
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 280 @ 6200
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 265 @ 2500
Opt engine 90° V-8, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.33 x 3.66
Displacement, ci/L 255/4.2
Compression ratio 11.0:1
Valve gear DOHC, 5 valves/cyl
Fuel induction Sequential multipoint fuel injection, FSI
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 350 @ 6200
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 324 @ 3000
Opt engine 90° twin TD V-10, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke, in 3.19 x 3.76
Displacement, ci/L 300/5.0
Compression ratio 18.0:1
Valve gear SOHC, 2 valves/cyl
Fuel induction Direct injection
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm 310 @ 3750
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm 553 @ 2000
Transmission 6-speed automatic
1st 4.15:1
2nd 2.37:1
3rd 1.56:1
4th 1.16:1
5th 0.86:1
6th 0.69:1
Reverse 3.39:1
Axle ratio 4.56:1
Final drive ratio 3.15:1
Low-range ratio 2.66:1
Crawl ratio (1st x axle gears x low range) 50.3:1
Recommended fuel Premium unleaded/ULSD
Wheelbase, in 112.4
Length, in 187.2
Width, in 75.9
Height, in 68.0
Track, f/r, in 65.2/65.7
Headroom, f/r, in 38.7/38.3
Legroom, f/r, in 41.3/35.6
Shoulder room, f/r, in 57.7/57.4
Cargo volume, behind 1st/2nd row, cu ft 71.0/31.0
Ground clearance, in 6.3-11.8 (air)
Approach/departure angle, deg 28.0/33.0 (air)
Base curb weight/as tested, lb 5086/5164 (V-6)
Weight distribution, f/r, % 52/48
Max payload capacity, lb 1400
GVWR, lb 6500
GCWR, lb 14,000
Max towing capacity, lb 7716
Fuel capacity, gal 26.4
Construction Unibody
Suspension, front/rear Independent, double wishbone, coilover/independent, four-link; four-corner air suspension (opt)
Steering type Servotronic power steering
Ratio 14.7:0
Turning circle, ft 38.1
Brakes, front/rear 13-in vented disc/13-in vented disc, ABS
Wheels 19-in alloy
Tires P275/45R19
0-60 mph, sec 7.9 (V-6)
Quarter mile, sec @ mph 16.0 @ 84.7
Braking, 60-0, ft 128
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy, mpg 12-15/17-20
CO2 emissions, lb/mile 1.22 (V-6); 1.40 (V-8); 1.31 (V-10)
Base price $48,320 (V-8)
Options $10,700
Price as tested $59,020 (V-8)
Truck Trend Network


Volkswagen Touareg

Fair Market Price
Editors' Overall Rating
Basic Specifications
MSRP: $44,705
Mileage: 17 / 23
Engine: 3.6L V6
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