$6,719 - $10,291

2009 Volkswagen Touareg Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Volkswagen Touareg was new.


Performance: 8.4

The Touareg's performance is average for the class, but critics warned the base engine has to work hard, and the SUV isn't as nimble as other midsize SUVs. One area the Touareg shines, however, is with its off-roading capabilities.

  • "Even if you never leave the pavement, the 2009 Volkswagen Touareg 2 should satisfy." -- Edmunds
  • "Each Volkswagen Touareg model has its own set of distinct driving characteristics defined by engine, suspension and tires, and each feels of-a-piece solid built and engineered to a point where it feels all the moving parts are light and balanced, with that rigid platform and luxury features responsible for the weight." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "On the road, despite its weight, the Touareg has a nimble feel, with a relatively soft ride for a sport utility vehicle. A characteristic of diesel engines is low-rev power, which causes the Touareg TDI to fairly leap off the line. There's also plenty of punch for passing. Road, wind and mechanical noises are muted." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers said the Touareg's engines do a good job pulling the SUV's hefty curb weight, but not the best job. Most said the base engine is the chief culprit. It's a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission, and the EPA estimates the V6 Touareg should achieve 14/20 mpg city/highway.

The Touareg's V8 FSI engine has a 4.2-liter V8 engine that makes 350 horsepower at 6,700 rpm. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission as well, and the EPA estimates its fuel economy at 13/18 mpg city/highway.

  • "Touareg 2s are among the heaviest midsize SUVs, and the V6 labors in mountain driving and highway passing sprints. In Consumer Guide testing, a V6 model did 8.1 seconds 0-60 mph. The V8 version is no hot rod but delivers better all-around acceleration and is a necessity for towing. VW says 7.6 seconds 0-60, though it doesn't feel quite fast." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The VR6 and V8 engines, which were introduced for the 2008 model refresh, provide plenty of oomph. And you'll need that oomph if you hope to overcome the vehicle's considerable curb weight. For all-around performance, the V8 would be our choice, but for shoppers on a budget, the marginally more fuel-efficient V6 should be satisfactory." -- Edmunds
  • "With short gearing in the six-speed automatic transmission, the VR6 engine's 280 horsepower moves the 5,000-pound Touareg better than you'd expect. Torque is rated at 265 pound-feet from 2500 to 5000 rpm, delivering sufficient midrange power for daily tasks and keeping up if not leading the pack." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The six-speed automatic transmission shifts unobtrusively and the ratios are well matched to the engine's power characteristics." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Handling and Braking

Opinions of the Touareg's driving dynamics were somewhat mixed. Though some found the ride quality smooth and the suspension well-tweaked for a comfortable ride, others were quick to point out it doesn't have the footwork of other luxury midsize SUVs.

  • "Volkswagen Touareg 2's on-road manners lean towards the sporting side of things, owing its firm, stable road feel to the suspension it shares with the Porsche Cayenne. The optional four-corner air-suspension helps smooth out the taut ride and adds more than three inches of ground clearance when adjusted to the high level." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Touareg 2 feels ponderous in fast changes of direction, and it's no match for SUVs such as the Acura MDX or Lexus RX. The steering has a linear feel, but isn't as precise as it should be. Touareg 2 corners with good balance but marked body lean. The air suspension imparts a slightly more agile feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Since it rolls on 17-inch wheels and tires designed for all surfaces, the comfort spec is logical, and endows the VR6 with the gentlest ride of the three Touareg models. It responds accurately to driver input, though not as quickly as vehicles like the BMW X5 which haven't the off-road prowess, and the quick steering will execute a U-turn in less space than many mid-sized sedans, an important trait in urban areas and tight off-highway trails." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The Touareg 2's standard 4XMotion four-wheel drive system delivers the goods for bold and brave off-road enthusiasts. A low-range gear, adaptive torque distribution and locking center differential help take the Touareg 2 over the most intimidating terrain." -- Kelley Blue Book


An award winner in previous years for its off-roading performance, the 2009 Touareg's off-roading features include hill ascent and descent control, and the 4XMotion four-wheel drive system, which splits power equally between the front and rear wheels most of the time but adjusts the power ratio depending on traction needs. The Touareg also has an automatic locking center differential, but it can also be locked manually. A locking rear differential is optional for serious off-roaders.

  • "I had no reason to take the Touareg off-road during the most recent week one was in my possession and, like many SUV owners, I cannot envision any situation in the near future that would require me to wander off into the wilderness." -- The Family Car
  • "Though few owners will ever take a Touareg 2 off-road, those who do are likely to be amazed by its abilities, as a standard center locking differential and hill descent assist make crawling up and down the steepest of trails a remarkably uneventful experience. Hard-core off-roaders will also appreciate the Touareg 2's optional locking rear differential, ability to ford 22-inch deep water and anti-lock braking system tuned to shorten braking distances on loose surfaces." -- Kelley Blue Book

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