Pros: Excellent performance and fuel economy from turbodiesel engine; well-tuned ride/handling balance; classy, comfortable, capacious cabin
Cons: So-so fuel economy and performance with base V6 engine; disappointing fuel economy from pricey Hybrid model
CG Says: For 2014, the Volkswagen Touareg gains an available motion-activated liftgate and a sport-themed R-Line model with sport suspension, 20-inch wheels, and unique trim. Plus, Executive and Hybrid models get an around-view camera feature, and the availability of push-button start is expanded to most models in the lineup. Lackluster demand suggests many buyers shun Touareg as too pricey for a VW, even though it undercuts some premium-brand rivals. Look past the badge, however, and you find a spacious, comfortable, classy SUV with pleasant road manners, high mechanical refinement, and terrific workmanship. A full range of power choices is another plus, but the turbodiesel TDI versions are clearly the best of the bunch. Though somewhat more expensive than comparable gasoline V6 models, they’re just as smooth and quiet, have far stronger midrange performance, and are much more fuel-efficient. The Hybrid is no less civilized and offers impressive performance, but its lower mpg is hard to justify against greater technical complexity and a much-higher starting price. Still, if you’re SUV-shopping only among the usual premium brands, the Touareg may prove a pleasant surprise.