Danielle Assenheimer

Little Black Dress: 2014 VW Touareg TDI

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI is the automotive equivalent of a little black dress. Every woman has one—they’re simple, timeless, and useful in a number of different situations. The Touareg has embodied these characteristics since its inception. Although the 2014 model year received only a few minor changes, they were smart alterations that keep it feeling new and modern.

VW Touareg 1

The Touareg has a very stately presence and is eye-catchingly elegant, a nice alternative to some other midsize SUVs it competes with. Our tester arrived in Toffee Brown Metallic with the Saddle Brown leather interior. A brown-on-brown SUV might not sound stately and elegant, but in person the colors worked well together without being flashy, like a little black dress with a sensible pair of flats. New for 2014, the Touareg gets LED taillights to go with the LED running lights, another way Volkswagen is subtly updating its vehicles without a complete redesign. The Executive trim level also receives upgraded and more visually appealing 20” wheels. Some jewelry and new shoes make a perfect way to subtlety stand out from the crowd. Volkswagen continues its classic design to the interior as well. As you enter the cabin, you notice the leather, soft touch plastics, and wood trim throughout the vehicle and the simplicity of its controls. Switches and buttons remain where many of the Touareg’s competitors use touch screens and haptic controls. We don’t consider this a disadvantage; some things are just easier with a button. The switches and buttons even have a quality feel about them. The infotainment system was relatively intuitive and easy to navigate. However, the map could benefit from some updating for aesthetic purposes. The Dynaudio audio system is a great addition to the higher trim levels, like the Executive. In some cases, a premium sound system is used to cover up some of the road noise, but not in the Touareg—it only makes the ride that much more enjoyable. While underway, the Touareg’s Clean Diesel V6 is totally indistinguishable from a gasoline engine.

VW Touareg 5

Unlike the Dodge Durango we tested last month, the Touareg is only a 5 passenger vehicle. That wasn’t disappointing to me in the least. Most midsize SUVs these days have an optional third row in an attempt to make them feel like a full size SUV. It is refreshing to still find a midsize SUV on the market meant for just 5 passengers. After all, those third rows are generally useless for anyone over the age of 5. Unless you have a growing family or some other extenuating circumstance, I’m not so sure this segment needs a third row.

Making an SUV fun to drive is a challenge for any manufacturer, and making a diesel SUV fun to drive for Americans is even harder. Volkswagen has succeeded with flying colors. 3.0L V6 TDI produces 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. As with all diesel engines, it’s that massive torque figure that helps leave others in the dust. No one expects the girl in the brown-on-brown SUV to blow them away off the line. While driving the Touareg you forget you’re driving an SUV and, even more importantly, you forget you’re driving a diesel SUV. It has very responsive steering without any numbness or artificial weight that plagues many SUVs. Our week with the Touareg also coincided with the arrival of some winter weather. Even on the low-profile 20” wheels, VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system handled the roads with a sense of confidence.

VW Touareg 2

Perhaps the Touareg’s biggest pitfall is its price. The Touareg starts around $44,000, but our Executive TDI tester rang in at over $61,000. That’s a few thousand away from a top-trim Audi Q7 TDI. It’s also more expensive than its cousin, the Porsche Cayenne Diesel. As good as the VW Touareg is, we’re just not sure it can command that kind of premium. But just like your little black dress, there is a solution. The Executive is the Touareg TDI’s top trim line. Perhaps you can do without the Dynaudio system, 20″ wheels, and Vavona Wood inlays. The Lux package will save you nearly $3,000 and retain almost all of the same features. Just think of the little black dress you could buy with those savings.

-Danielle Assenheimer

2014 VW Touareg TDI Executive
$60,860
Toffee Brown Metallic Exterior N/C
Saddle Brown Interior N/C
8-Speed Automatic Tranmission N/C
Destination Charges $910
As Tested MSRP $61,770

Related:
The Euro Option: 2013 VW Passat TDI
Lady in Red: 2013 VW Jetta GLI

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