When my test vehicle arrived, I took a quick peek around and quickly realized I would need to read the owner's manual before attempting to drive it. The owner's manual is so huge it has its own separate compartment in the dashboard. I read the whole thing cover to cover as if it were my latest book club selection.
After absorbing all I could between sibling squabbles and diaper changes, I loaded up my gear. Folding down the armrest between the two car seats, I discover pop-out cupholders at the right level to be used by my children. It keeps the sippy cups from rolling under the seat and being forgotten until the aroma of spoiled milk gives them away. Fold the armrest up and there's room for a third car seat (it's a tight fit, but with a little elbow grease it can be done).
Jumping into the driver's seat, I fumble with the 12-way power adjustable seat (including power adjusting seat belt and steering wheel). I open the car door and stoop over to figure out which buttons control what.
Once I get that set, I move on to program the radio and load the CDs. After fussing continuously with the radio/navigation controls, I give up. I discover that the CD changer is in the cargo area. Forget it! I'll just listen to the rap stations programmed by the driver that delivered my car.
My biggest challenge with this car is learning about the four-corner air suspension. This feature lets you select the ride height of the vehicle. After accidentally raising the height of the vehicle to an offroad only level, I decide to take my car into Mountain States Motors for a crash course in operational management. After a half-hour tutorial from Ben Moore I feel slightly more educated, but only to elementary school level. Ben assures me, however, that if I were to actually purchase a Touareg, it would come with a three- to four-hour instructional session. Right; add that to my to-do list.
There are some really great mom-friendly features on this vehicle. My favorite is the keyless access. When approaching the vehicle, it senses the key nearby and unlocks the doors automatically. This comes in handy when your keys have migrated to the bottom of your purse (under the wet wipes and snotty tissues) and your hands are full of children and groceries. It supposedly also has a keyless start function, though I never did figure out how it works.
Another great feature the Touareg offers is the one-touch window opening and closing with pinch protection. This prevents little fingers from getting stuck in the window. I also like the headlight washer system to keep your view of the nighttime road crystal clear. Speaking of night driving, the red instrument illumination is really cool. I love that the cruise control and stereo controls on the steering wheel are also illuminated at night.
For my purposes, the Touareg is slightly overkill. If you plan to do extreme off-roading and want to do it in luxurious style, this may be the SUV for you. I hope for your sake that you have a very high IQ, because the crazy number of automatic thingies and programmable spiel-i-bops will continuously test your technical abilities, as well as your patience (which is something we moms are often short of).
*For more information on the VW Touareg and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.