Generally good but could be much better
August 27, 2017
Overall, the 2016 Touareg is a stylish and practical SUV. It offers abundant options with a price tag considerably lower than its competitors. However, it fails to deliver any surprise, which aligns well with its position in the market: a premium SUV, but of an ordinary brand.
First of all -- sorry 2016 Touareg Wolfsburg Edition owners -- The 2016 Touareg Lux, mid-line among the three trims, may not appear as attractive as the 2017 Wolfsburg Edition, also the mid-line trim, but it has two very useful features that have been eliminated from the 2017: the driver's seat memory and the power folding mirrors. Indeed, the 2016 Lux does not have the fancy wheels or the Wolfsburg badge, but I prefer having those convenience features, because it is a Volkswagen anyway.
The Touareg is rather spacious. It may not be designed for a cross-country road trip for a family of four, but for medium-to-short distance trips it is very comfortable. The second-row seats have somehow limited leg rooms, but the width is more than enough for a decent ride, while not posing any constraint on maneuvering tight streets or parking spaces. The trunk is large, and with the power-release of second-row seats and the super useful hands-free open tailgate, the Touareg is almost a perfect vehicle for grocery shopping and occasional transport of large objects.
The fuel economy is not impressive, but this drawback is offset by the fact that the 3.6L VR6 FSI engine only requires regular gasoline. Acceleration from start is nowhere close to performance-like, or honestly, is quite sluggish. The 8AT obviously shifts too many times to get to an average 30 to 40 mph. Acceleration from highway speed is fair -- engine roars a lot to get up to speed, but it gets the job done. Confidence in passing is not a problem.
Driver assistance features are extremely handy. The adaptive cruise control comes with a package at a very affordable price, much unlike on other premium SUVs -- for many of Touareg's European competitors, to get an ACC you are looking at a colossal price tag. Touareg's ACC is also very easy to use, with its status clearly shown on the instrument. The more common blind-spot assistance and lane departure warning are useful as well, but it is definitely a pity that the Touareg does not offer active lane keeping assist.
The standard bi-Xenon headlamps are excellent, but I personally do not find the adaptive front-lighting system (AFS) useful, as the 15-degree turn of the headlamp is very hard to perceive when the vehicle is in motion. The halogen fog lamps with corning illumination are good, but not extremely attractive. The daytime running lights look much more appealing than those on the pre-facelift models, but the lack of LED front turn signals deprives the Touareg with some high-tech feel.
The Touareg Lux offers a mediocre audio system. I used to have an SUV with Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio, and it totally dwarfs the Touareg. Touareg's standard audio brings no deepness or details, and sounds completely plain and boring. Another frustration with its infotainment system is that it does not support Apple CarPlay. Actually, the Touareg is the only model without CarPlay compatibility within Volkswagen's current product lineup, and Touareg is, essentially, VW's flagship in the North America.
Last but not least, do not bother checking out why your headlamp washer does not work -- while Volkswagen retains the openings for the washer, it does not put any washer on the US-spec Touareg (at least on the 2016 MY). That is, frankly, very "Volkswagen".