2011 Volkswagen Touareg: Up Close

We're at the first U.S. unveiling of the redesigned 2011 Volkswagen Touareg, and it's easy to see this all-new SUV has a sense of style.

From the rear, some might mistake the new Touareg for a Q5 from sister brand Audi; the taillights trade the old Touareg’s affable circular lights for more Audi-like creases. Its profile isn’t far off that of the outgoing Touareg – from the rear-quarter or side, many passersby could mistake the two. The major visual difference is up front, where the grille and front air dam adopt a similar design to the Golf/GTI and nose-jobbed Jetta wagon. It’s a sharper look, but I don’t find it as distinctively VW as the waterfall nose that the brand’s remaining models still have.


Volkswagen didn’t allow journalists to actually sit in the seats — something about red wine and a cream interior, despite the fact we weren't drinking — but we got to take a look at the interior materials while standing outside. The cabin looked good, and the dash is vastly cleaner than the last Touareg’s button-strewn collection. There’s more rear legroom in back, a product specialist said; alas, I couldn’t examine this for myself.


Like in the ML450 Hybrid, the Touareg Hybrid’s battery pack nestles where a spare tire would sit — run-flat tires are standard — meaning cargo volume remains the same. The rear seats now fold in a single step, and now offer both a manual or power option. That beats the old Touareg, which required removing the head restraints and flipping up seat cushions to fold the wretched things down.






Volkswagen Volkswagen Touareg 2010 New York Auto Show

Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey