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2004 Volkswagen Diesel Touareg TDI Mid-Size Sport Utility

Base MSRP Range: $57,800

Base Invoice Range: $52,315

MSRP As Tested: $35,840

Versions: TDI

Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels:Four-Wheel Drive

Optional Engine: 4.9-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 24-valves, V-10, 310 -horsepower at 3,750rpm and 553lb-ft torque at 2,000 rpm.

Transmission As Tested: 6-Speed Automatic.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 17/23.

Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger, side airbags, ">Antilock Brake System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution .

Competition: Range Rover, Lincoln Aviator, Cadillac SRX, Volvo XC90,Porsche Cayenne. Infiniti FX45, BMW X5.


Blue Ridge Parkway, West Virginia - The price of gas has gone up, a lot, and most people are looking for ways to save money on gas. This makes it the perfect time to reintroduce Americans to diesel fuel cars and trucks. Diesel engines are more fuel-efficient, and the price for a gallon is a little less than gasoline.

Volkswagen is bringing several diesel-powered versions of their popular products to market including the Touareg V10 Diesel. The Touareg is one of the best - if not the best - luxury SUVs on the market. It provides all the amenities, style and off-road capabilities of the Range Rover for 30% less money. Now with the V10 diesel engine, it has the mileage of much smaller SUVs.

Reintroduction of diesel products is necessary as most Americans think of them as noisy and dirty. We remember they had truck-like rides, and performance. We remember them is as unpleasant products. That's no longer the case as diesel engine technology has evolved, along with the fuel formulas. Diesel passenger cars and trucks are now quiet, smooth, and when turbocharged, they have very good performance and handling. They don't spew black smoke, as they are much cleaner burning. But they still are not available in every state as emissions standards vary. Hence diesel passenger vehicles can be sold in only 45 out of the 50 states.

Volkswagen, like other European manufacturers, sees a real opportunity in the United States for diesel products. Approximately 70% of vehicles sold in Europe are powered by diesel engines. Because of the high price of fuel, interest in the high-mileage, gasoline-electric, hybrid-fuel cars has increased. Diesel fuel vehicles are destined to become interesting to car shopping Americans.

Hybrid-fuel vehicles have a miles-per-gallon advantage for consumers who drive in urban environments where the traffic is stop and go. Diesels have the advantage for drivers who spend most of their time on long highways commutes.

The premium for the V10 Touareg TDI (Turbo Diesel Injected) is $13,515 over their gasoline-powered products. That's a lot of money to spend to get a diesel engine, especially since the Touareg is already pricy. It is thus unlikely that owners of the TDI will make back the premium, in fuel savings. That said, every V10 Touareg TDI that Volkswagen can make are already sold.


There is virtually no difference between the diesel and gas powered versions of the Touareg. None. The only way to tell the difference between them is that the diesel version has a V10 Touareg TDI badge on the rear lift gate.

Touareg is one of the best vehicle design executions in the SUV marketplace. It is elegant and sleek, uninterrupted by superfluous cladding, and threatening, militaristic design cues. It is a classic European luxury car: a cross between the Audi Off-Road and the Passat Wagon with the front-end of the Phaeton sedan, and vastly more ground clearence. The V10 Touareg TDI certainly has Audi style.


The interior is quite refined, more like an Audi than any other Volkswagen. As with other automakers the car contains a lot of brushed aluminum, and wood accents. Almost every luxury SUV on the market has a busy cockpit, and the V10 Touareg TDI is no different. This happens because all of the knobs and readouts needed to control the technology.

In Touareg's case, everything is useful and properly placed. We like the location of the controls. Underneath the cowl are a large tachometer, and speedometer. Between the two is a small trip computer screen, just like Audi has. Below that are the gauges for fuel, oil, water temperature, etc.

Below the air vents, in the center console, is the display for the audio, entertainment, and optional navigation systems (includes the off-road navigation.)Those are followed by the dual-zone, climate-control system. (A four-zone, climate-control system is available as an option.) Next is the gear shift lever for the six-speed transmission. On its right is a small flashlight that plugs into the cigarette lighter. Next are the controls for the low-range gears, the switch for the on-road suspension settings,and on the right a knob controlling the off-road suspension settings.

Oh, and very important, in the center console is a holder for one-liter water bottles. Brilliant. It takes up a lot of room, but it is practical.


The Touareg Diesel is powered by a 4.9-liter, 10 -cylinder, twin-turbocharged, diesel engine that generates 310-horsepower at 3,750 rpms, and 553 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpms. That's great for hauling a boat out of the water, or getting a loaded trailer moving.

0 - 60 times are in the 7.5 second range. The top speed is 130 mph, close to Audi A4 performance - surprising given the weight difference between the two. Tremendous low-end torque gives the Diesel Touareg exceptional pickup from a standing start.

Ride and Handling

Two suspensions are available in the Volkswagen V10 Touareg TDI. Steel is standard, and the Air Suspension is optional. If you want to take full advantage the vehicle's capabilities, the Air Suspension is a "must have." The option costs $2,300, and you must purchase $700 worth of Zenon self-leveling headlamps , as well. This is a worthwhile addition to the product. But why they don't sell the Air Suspension and headlamps together as a package is confusing.

The on-road performance is very similar to - and a bit more refined than - the sports-car-like ride of the Infiniti FX 35, or 45. It is also comparable to the BMW X5, and better than other luxury SUVs we've driven. The Air Suspension enhances high-speed handling. At 78-mph the system lowers the body 25mm decreasing the center of gravity. At 112-mph it lowers it another 10mm. All of this provides a very satisfying on-road ride.

We took the Touareg V10 TDI on an unpaved, forest service fire trail in West Virginia. It had no problem, handling just like it was on a paved road, and just like the gasoline-powered version. When the gasoline-powered Touareg was introduced last year, we test drove it in Moab Utah - the off- road capital of the U.S. - where the off-highway routes are called Jeep trails. It was fantastic!

And you should have seen the expressions on the faces of the Hummer owners, and the guys with the goofy-looking, ultra-modified, 4x4 trucks, when 20 Touaregs drove by at a brisk clip, with the AC, and music, blasting. We bet they were thinking about trade-ins at that moment.


This vehicle has all the safety features one expects of a European luxury automaker. There are 6 airbags - driver and front passenger front and side airbags and a head curtain that runs from the A pillar to the C pillar on both sides. The roof is reinforced to act as a roll bar in the event of a rollover, or protect the passengers should something fall on the vehicle.

Touareg has 4-wheel, power assisted, antilock, and disc brakes. The vehicle also has Hydraulic Brake Assist. This system determines the necessary amount of brake pressure for the situation, and delivers the appropriate amount it determines whether the vehicle needs to come to a gentle, or a panic, stop, and adjusts the brake pressure.


The Volkswagen Diesel Touareg TDI is a great SUV. It is much more expensive than its gasoline powered twin by $13,515. That means that the fuel cost savings is unlikely to recover the premium over the life of the vehicle. So this isn't the vehicle to buy if you are trying to save money. But on the other hand, if it makes you feel good to go more miles on the same amount of fuel, well then, by all means, do it. It's a great SUV you'll enjoy owning, and it truly can go anywhere.

Pros: Capable, beautiful, best all-around SUV on the market. If you want diesel, this is the way to go. Towing should be stellar.

Cons: Price. But for those who can buy this car, price probably isn't an issue.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 9
  • Performance: 8
  • Price: 6
  • Handling: 8
  • Ride: 8
  • Comfort: 9
  • Quality: 8
  • Overall: 8

More Data

Where Built: Wolfsburg Germany

Major Options: 4-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Navigation/Sound System II Package, Premium Plus Package (PKD)

Seating: 5

Number of Rows: 2

Length in Inches: 187.2

Warrentees: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, 12 year/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 5 years/60,000 miles free Roadside Assistance.

Weight in Pounds: 4,945 lbs

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: 963-1,400

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: Not Available

Towing Capacity in Pounds: 7,716

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 26.4

Destination Charge: $615