Premium midsize SUV; Built in Slovakia
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,000 – $25,200*

2004 Volkswagen Touareg

2004 Volkswagen Touareg

2004 Volkswagen Touareg

2003 Volkswagen Touareg

  • Build quality
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Instruments/controls

Though pricey for a Volkswagen, Touareg follows VW’s formula of sophisticated interior decor, solid construction, and more-than-competent SUV road manners. Off-road, it’s utterly exceptional. But adding a few choice options elevated new-vehicle prices to levels associated with such prestigious brands as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. VW’s task was to convince buyers that its new SUV belonged in such company. The turbodiesel cost plenty when new, but perhaps not as much secondhand. Touareg V6 and V8 models are budget-label stand-ins for their Porsche Cayenne cousins.


Volkswagen’s first sport-utility vehicle was a midsize five-passenger luxury wagon offering V6 or V8 power, plus an all-wheel-drive system suitable for serious off-road use. Named for a nomadic tribe of the Sahara, Touareg (Tour-regg) came with a 220-horsepower V6 or a 310-horsepower V8. The sole transmission was a six-speed automatic with manual shift gate.

Similar in size to the Acura MDX, Touareg was developed in conjunction with Porsche, which offered its own version as the more expensive, more powerful Cayenne. Touareg was a four-door wagon with a rear liftgate; no third-row seating was available. Its 70 cubic feet of cargo room (with the rear seat folded) beat BMW’s X5 but fell short of the Lexus RX 330 or MDX.

Standard equipment included VW’s 4XMotion AWD with low-range gearing and a locking center differential; a locking rear differential was optional. ABS and an antiskid system also were standard. A height-adjusting air suspension was optional. The V6 version had 17-inch wheels, versus 18-inch (or optional 19s) with V8 power.

Front side airbags and curtain side airbags for both seating rows were standard. Both models came with wood and aluminum interior trim, and a sunroof. Leather upholstery was standard on the V8 and optional for the V6. Other options included a navigation system, an obstacle-detection system, and four-zone climate control Towing capacity was 7716 pounds with either engine. Volkswagen competed against the Acura MDX, Infiniti FX, and Lexus RX 330, as well as the Cadillac SRX. But the Touareg promised greater off-road prowess than those rivals.

Yearly Updates

2004 Touareg
No change was evident as the 2004 model year began, but a 310-horsepower turbodiesel V10 engine that cranked out a whopping 553 pounds-feet of torque became available late in the year.
2005 Touareg
A more powerful V6 engine and new options marked the 2005 season. The base V6 gained 20 horsepower, now rated at 240. Volkswagen’s turbodiesel V10 model had a height-adjusting air suspension, which was available for other Touaregs. OnStar assistance became standard rather than optional, as did self-dimming mirrors. Newly available were satellite radio and a tire-pressure monitor. An external spare tire could be mounted on V8 and V10 models.
2006 Touareg
VW’s SUV was unchanged for 2006.
2007 Touareg
Touareg adds more power and a few options for 2007. The V6 model has 276 hp for ’07, an increase of 36 hp. A power liftgate and keyless entry/starting also are now available for all models.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Initially, two powertrains were available in Touaregs: a 220-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 engine, or a 310-horsepower 4.2-liter V8. Both engines team with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 jumped to 240 horsepower for 2006. During 2004, Volkswagen launched a Touareg with a turbodiesel V10 engine. The V6 model gets 276 hp for ’07, an increase of 36 hp.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/195
Engine HP 230-276
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 227
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/252
Engine HP 310
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 302
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



Turbodiesel ohc V10
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.9/300
Engine HP 310
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 553
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Road Test

Touareg is among the heaviest midsize SUVs, so the relatively small V6 struggled with a full load or up steep grades hilly ascents, though but it’s otherwise adequate. VW pegged acceleration at 9.4 seconds from 0-60 mph. The V8 is stronger and more relaxed in all conditions; and did 7.9 seconds 0-60 mph in our test. Around-town response is marred by inconsistent reaction to throttle pressure, especially with the V8, and by the transmission’s occasionally tardy downshifts. The turbodiesel’s class-leading torque delivers robust acceleration and ready passing power. That V10 is also largely free of diesel smoke and smell–but not entirely.

Fuel economy is similar for the gasoline engines. A test V6 averaged 12.5 to 15.1 mpg, versus 11.9 to 14.3 for a V8. VW recommends premium-grade fuel for both gasoline engines.

An impressively rigid structure enhances perceived comfort in all models, but the base suspension and tires furnish the best ride: stable and fairly compliant. It’s the best choice for on-road comfort, especially with 17-inch tires. None of the air suspension’s three firmness settings summons an optimal blend of composure and comfort. The major asset is its ability to provide 11.8 inches of ground clearance. Available 19-inch tires thump nastily over bumps.

Handling cannot match sporty SUVs, such as the BMW X5 and Infiniti FX, but Touareg always feels confident, especially in highway cruising. Steering is linear but lazy in fast turns, where balance is good but marked body lean is typical of truck-type SUVs. Expect fractionally sharper feel with an air suspension. A compact turning radius aids good low-speed maneuverability, though a test V8 with 19-inch wheels exhibited drivetrain binding in slow, tight turns. Brakes feel strong, but a test V6 version suffered grabby low-speed stops. Astute AWD automatically apportioned power to claw through severe dry-surface off-road tests.

Quietness rivals some upscale cars, with impressive isolation and low wind rush. Not much is heard from either gas engine beyond a throaty purr in rapid acceleration. The air suspension muffles road noise slightly better than the base version, though 19-inch tires roar somewhat on grainy pavement. The turbodiesel clatters at idle but is well-muted otherwise. Wind rush is low for an SUV.

Instruments have an aircraft-quality look, with legible gauges. Numerous buttons/controls on the dashboard and console require familiarization. Most are logically arrayed, but not all obviously identified. Climate-system controls sit too low for easy driver use or viewing. VW’s navigation system incorporates some audio adjustments. Using any of its functions demands study, but it’s no harder to operate than most others and serious Global Positioning Satellite capability is useful off-road. Quality of interior materials and assembly matches any SUV, regardless of price.

Front occupants may enjoy great head room and generous seat travel. Firm, comfortable seats are marred a bit by weak cushion support in fast turns. The standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel helps dial in an ideal position, though several testers have complained that the wheel rim cuts into view of some instruments. Step-in height is moderate for an SUV, and wide doorways ease entry/exit. Rear visibility is compromised by headrests and the small back window. Some test Touaregs have had slightly distorted windshield glass.

Plenty of head clearance is available in the rear, but foot space shrinks to marginal as front seats move more than halfway back. Knee room is not painfully constricted, though, and occupants get fine seat support and contour. Narrow rear doorways hamper easy exit.

An impressively finished cargo bay is a bonus, but dropping the rear seatback flat requires tipping lower cushions and removing headrests. VW provides no headrest storage–a rare flaw in this thoughtfully laid out interior. The load floor is spacious enough, but somewhat high off the ground. Ample passenger-compartment storage includes an air conditioned glovebox.


Model Tested: 2005 Volkswagen Touareg V8

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 2
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 5

Total: 56


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.4 187.2 75.9 68.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
71.0 26.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 38.3 41.3 35.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Touareg 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Door handles
Description: The inside door handles may stop returning when released requiring installation of a clip on the cable inside the door. (2004-07)
Suspension problems
Description: The vehicle may sag after sitting because the residual air valve for the suspension become corroded and an revised valve is available. (2004-07)
Description: Wipers go to full speed despite the amount of rain due to malfunction of the rain sensor. (2006-07)
Description: The battery can go dead because the navigation system is kept awake by RDS (radio data system) signals, requiring reprogramming of the navigation system. (2004-05)
Description: The battery may become discharged and/or the key may not come out of the ignition lock due to a bad battery ground connection under the driver’s seat. (2004-05)
Information stickers/paperwork
Description: A step was left out of the owner’s manual for the emergency ignition key release: The parking brake must be applied. (2004)
Electrical problem
Description: The PRNDS indicator light may come on due to a problem in the wiring harness. (2005-07)
Description: Vehicle may crow-hop (wheels binding or scrubbing) on low-speed turns and ESP light may come on requiring reprogramming the differential control module. (2004-06)
Transmission problems
Description: Harsh downshifts from 5-4 coming off the highway and/or delayed engagement in heavy traffic as slow speeds, requires flashing the transmission control module. (2004)

Recall History

2004 Touareg
Description: Rear seatbelt latch attachment bolt may have been insufficiently riveted, and belt
could fail to restrain occupant properly.
2004 Touareg
Description: Tire pressure monitor’s wiring harness may have been improperly routed, which could result in inoperative monitor and possible short circuit.
2004-05 Touareg
Description: In a crash, child restraints may not be properly secured, increasing risk of injury or death.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.