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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 Volkswagen Touareg Review

by Martha Hindes

Volkswagen Touareg
2005 Volkswagen Touareg

While classifying Volkswagen's Touareg as a crossover vehicle, we remember some of the reasons it is. It does so many things, and does them exceedingly well in the process. There's an air of luxury refinement aptly befitting a premium, wide-bodied sport vehicle in the (not quite) hold-your-breath price range. There's a capability to truly go off-road without crossing fingers for luck in the process, thanks to VW's 4XMOTION permanent four-wheel-drive with low range gearing for the trackless wilderness. There's the unibody construction that smooths out street manners in a way that would be lost with a truck base. And whether powered by the 3.2-liter, 240-HP V6 or 4.2-liter 310-HP V8, there's an aspect of sporty command one would expect from either.

For 2005, VW makes some handling and safety changes. Models without the available air suspension system get a modified suspension and slightly lower ride height. V6 powerplants are beefed up 20 horsepower. Standard side curtain airbags augment front and side impact ones. And all models have VW's load management system to automatically unlock doors, switch off the fuel supply, turn on emergency flashers, plus more, if airbags deploy.

The Touareg's base prices ($37,140 V6; $44,260 V8) might seem steep if not for a long list of standard equipment that includes sunroof, anti-theft with starter interrupt, rain sensor wipers, and hill descent and climb assist on all models. But those numbers can climb with some costly equipment packages.

Sadly, one of VW's planned triumphs in North America for 2005, with relatively few expected takers but good for bragging rights following rave reviews, got shot down out almost out of the chute. A 5.0-liter, 310-HP, 10 cylinder diesel (base price $58,490) goes back to the drawing board for more 2005-mandated EPA testing, because it uses a Europe-sanctioned exhaust treatment to reduce emissions. Presumably those who feel a 553-lb.ft. torque rating and 23 highway/17 city mileage can't be missed won't mind the delay.


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