2011 Volkswagen Touareg V6 Execline Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on December 05, 2011

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A new look gives the 2011 Touareg a new sense of style. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on December 05, 2011

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The new Touareg is better suited to light-duty trails and pavement, of course. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on December 05, 2011

Found in better neighbourhoods everywhere. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on December 05, 2011

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Gorgeous interior is premium all the way. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

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The Touareg continues forward as a five-seater only. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

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Storage space is not a problem. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on December 05, 2011

Published on December 05, 2011

Step up into a VW Touareg and you'll think you're in an Audi or BMW SUV, or maybe more accurately a Porsche Cayenne. After all, Wolfsburg's largest sport ute was designed from the ground up to share more than just underpinnings with the Stuttgart-based sports car maker's 4x4, and while the new and totally revised 2011 Touareg and Cayenne aren't designed for serious off-road duty any longer, they're certainly every bit as desirable amongst well to do clientele.

Yes, while thrilled with the new Touareg's design and its overall on-road prowess, I was disappointed that I would no longer be clambering up the wind-hewn rocks of Moab or muddy ruts around my neck of the woods while at the wheel. You see VW was very aware of something we all know, that few of its Touareg owners ever dirtied the insides of its wheel wells with sticky brown gumbo or scraped its underside protective shields with protruding rocks, so why bother go to the expense of creating another backroads conqueror?

Instead the 2011 Touareg steps up the refinement to new levels, with driving dynamics that benefit from a new lighter 4Motion all-wheel drive system and therefore, along with other weight saving systems, less overall mass despite a larger overall footprint. The greater size makes for more comfort and better rear storage, and the lighter weight means that only one gasoline engine is needed.

The top-line V8 is now history and a new direct-injection 3.6-litre V6 is the standard engine from the base Comfortline trim level, past the Highline and right up to the Execline model. It's a wonderful engine making up to 280 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque and powers all four wheels via a new 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual mode. VW also offers a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel that makes a sinfully delicious 406 lb-ft of torque, but that's an engine for a different story, while the new hybrid model is not yet available in Canada.

As much as I love diesels, I love saving money more and therefore would likely opt for the standard V6 at about $5k less, and I have to guess that you may feel the same after spending enough time behind the wheel. It sprints off the line like a V8 and delivers decent fuel economy numbers at 12.3 L/100km and 8.8 highway. Sure the diesel's numbers are 11.1 and 7.0 respectively and the gasoline mill asks for (but doesn't require) premium unleaded, but it'll take a lot of driving to pay off five grand.

As for standard features and options, they're almost the same no matter what engine you choose, other than the base turbo-diesel gets a standard powered tailgate, the Highline diesel gets a standard heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and proximity sensing keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, and the topline Execline diesel gets standard 20-inch alloy wheels plus a sport suspension. These upgrades can be added to gasoline-powered Touaregs for a price.

In gasoline-powered V6 guise the base Comfortline model follows up its stylish design and high-quality soft-touch interior plastics with standard premium features such as 8-way powered and heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system with CD/DVD playback, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, VW's media device interface with iPod connectivity, a multifunction trip computer, heated mirrors, a 115-volt power outlet, 60/40 split-folding, sliding and reclining rear seats, and more. The Highline ups content with 12-way power leather seats with driver side memory, a two-part sliding centre armrest, genuine burr walnut accents, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear seat backrest release and a powered tailgate. The Execline adds a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, Dynaudio stereo upgrade, heated rear seats, pushbutton start, manual rear sunshades, park distance control and rearview camera, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps with LED technology, 19-inch alloy wheels, etc.

That's a lot of nice for a mere $58,185 plus $1,580 freight and PDI, and while some might think that's way too much to pay for a mainstream brand, realize that you'll be paying about the same for a fully featured Chevy Traverse or similar midsize crossover SUV, and while you might get two more seats in back with GM's offering you won't get anywhere near the same level of premium-like refinement. If the near $60k price tag of the Touareg Execline is still too steep for your pocketbook, the well equipped base Comfortline is a much more palatable $48,440, or the Highline starts at $53,190, plus destination of course.

Better looking, more refined and all-round more fun to drive, VW's hit the proverbial nail on the head with its new 2011 Touareg.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, SUV, Volkswagen, VW, 2011, Touareg, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Volkswagen

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