$8,717 - $10,122

2010 Volkswagen Touareg Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg was new.


Performance: 8.3

The Touareg's performance is average for the class, at least if you’re talking about the base model. Test drivers say the base engine has to work hard, and the SUV isn't as nimble as its competitors. However, the diesel model is more appealing because of its ample torque and better fuel economy.

  • "Touareg 2 feels ponderous in fast changes of direction, and it's no match for rival SUVs. 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
  • "With either engine, the Touareg impresses with its relaxed cruising demeanor, high towing capacity and surprisingly capable handling, though the latter comes at the expense of ride quality (the optional air suspension smoothes things out)." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg'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 highest level." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Despite weighing about 5300 pounds, this Touareg [hybrid] prototype bolts off the line, hitting 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds; expect the lighter Panamera to improve substantially on that performance. Our only criticism is a lack of progressive feel from the regenerative brakes, but we suspect Porsche in particular will have fixed that by the time this system makes its way into production." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers say the Touareg's base engine can be a bit sluggish, and unfortunately, VW has dropped the more powerful V8 engine option for 2010. The Touareg’s base 3.6-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower.

The diesel model comes with a six-cylinder common-rail TDI engine that makes 225 horsepower. While that's less horsepower than the gas-powered Touareg, reviewers are impressed by the TDI model's ample torque and good fuel economy. In fact, it's so superior that reviewers say it's well worth the extra $4,000 it adds to the Touareg's base price. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode.

According to the EPA, the base V6 achieves 14/19 mpg city/highway, which is one of the lowest ratings in the Touareg’s class. On the other hand, the diesel is rated at 18/25 mpg, which is one of the highest ratings in the class.

In the Touareg’s class, you can easily find SUVs with better fuel economy than the base model. The Lexus RX 350 starts at about $4,000 less than the base Touareg and has a much better 18/25 mpg fuel economy rating (which matches the diesel Touareg’s fuel economy estimates).

  • "The VR6 engine is refined and adequately powerful, but the V6 TDI is well worth the extra cash, providing superior torque and fuel economy. With either engine, the six-speed automatic transmission's shifts are barely noticeable." -- Edmunds
  • "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 TDI is a bit sluggish from a stop, but power comes on strongly once underway." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The base 3.6-liter VR6 engine provides adequate power and helps the VW Touareg achieve its $41,500 starting price, but the new 3.0-liter V6 diesel is the engine of choice - especially for those who need maximum towing power. Not only does the diesel provide swift acceleration, it also delivers better fuel economy.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Though many reviewers say the Touareg’s ride quality is smooth, others are quick to point out that it’s heavy and not as nimble as other luxury midsize SUVs. For a plusher ride, consider the less expensive Lexus RX 350.

  • "The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg can get down in the dirt like few other premium SUVs, but even if you never venture off the beaten path, this is one satisfying SUV from behind the wheel. Steering response is particularly sharp, and overall handling is above average." -- Edmunds
  • "The impressively rigid structure enhances comfort, with the base suspension and 17-inch wheels furnishing the best ride. Bumps intrude on models equipped with the 19-inch wheels, and some testers complain of some float on Touaregs so equipped." -- Consumer Guide


Despite the fact that many buyers will never take their Touareg off the beaten path, reviewers say this SUV is definitely ready for the challenge. An award winner in previous years for its performance, the Touareg comes standard with a 4XMOTION permanent four-wheel drive system with a low-range gear and adaptive torque distribution. In fact, it’s one of the few SUVs in its class to offer such a system as standard equipment. The slightly more expensive Acura MDX comes with all-wheel drive, but doesn’t have low-range gearing for true off-roading.  

  • “The astute AWD system helps Touareg claw through severe conditions in dry-surface off-road tests." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2010 Volkswagen Touareg can get down in the dirt like few other premium SUVs…” -- Edmunds
  • "Though few owners will ever take a Touareg off-road, those who do are likely to be amazed by its abilities, as a standard locking center differential and Hill Descent Assist make crawling up and down the steepest of trails a remarkably uneventful experience." -- Kelley Blue Book

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