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2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI R-Line Review: 7 Things to Know

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The Tuareg are a nomadic people who live in the Sahara Desert of North Africa; the word Tuareg itself is derived from an Arabic term meaning “ways” or “paths taken.”  VW has aptly named their SUV ‘Touareg’ in a nod to the adventurous spirit and culture of travel-as-a-lifestyle embodied by the Berber people.

The Touareg project has been a collaboration between VW, Porsche and Audi with the goal of creating an off-roading SUV than can handle like a sports car. The platform on which the Touareg is based is shared by the quick and nimble Porsche Cayenne and stalwart Audi A7. The Touareg first hit the market in 2002 and is now in the middle of its second generation which kicked off in 2010 when the vehicle shed close to 450 lbs, acquired more aggressive sheet-metal and benefitted from a significant boost in fuel economy.

1) Dual Personality

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The Touareg is a highly capable SUV that can handle light off-roading and serious towing (up to 7,700 pounds) and still be comfortable, civilized and extremely fuel efficient for city and highway driving. The 4Motion AWD system has an adaptive front/rear torque distribution which offers additional stability and improved handling. The Touareg easily traverses pot holes, uneven terrain and bad roads. In fact, there is even a dial to transition between “On-Road” and “Off-Road” which changes the traction level accordingly. The steering is responsive and incredibly composed even at high speeds.

2) R-Line Gets Aggro

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The R Line is new for 2014 and takes on the highest trim level (Lux – which offers a navigation system, panoramic sunroof, power folding mirrors, leather upholstery, front-seat power lumbar adjustment, driver memory seat), and then steps it up a notch.

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Exterior tweaks include 20-inch aluminum wheels, a revised lower fascia, side skirts, LED taillights, oval exhaust tips as well as R-Line badging. Inside, the R-Line is outfitted with black and aluminum trim on the doors, center console and dash along with a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum sport pedals and stainless steel scuff plates. Unfortunately, the 360-area view monitor and hands free, easy-open tailgate are not available in the R-Line trim.

3) Well Equipped

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The Touaregs all come standard with VW’s 4Motion AWD system, dual-zone climate control, 8-way power and heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheels and shifter, Bluetooth with audio streaming and Sirius XM radio. Safety is taken care of by 6 airbags including front-side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, traction control, stability control, ABS brakes and hill-ascent assist, all of which have earned the Touareg the Top Safety Pick award by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). A 10 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty provides peace of mind. Everything else gets the standard 3 year, 36,000 mile comprehensive warranty.

4) Notable Omissions

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While the Touareg does offer quite a lot there are some things missing that we would have liked to see at this lofty price point. These include adaptive cruise control, a blind spot mirror, back seat DVD player with wireless headphones, iPhone/iPod connectivity and more on-demand telematics.

5) Impressive Interior

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The cabin of the Touareg has charm in its no-nonsense and straight forward approach. The essentials are all laid out very cleanly and intuitively. The high seating position, up and down instrument panel and the wide center console give it a beefy, substantial vibe.

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The panoramic sunroof may indeed be the highlight, offering 350% more skylight than the previous model. It sweeps from the front all the way almost to the rear with a black mesh covering. Even though the VW brand is more pedestrian, the interior still feels luxurious with nice higher-end materials.

6) Not Your Daddy’s Diesel

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The TDI model features a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 good for 240hp and a whopping 406 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission offers almost imperceptible gear changes under normal operation. The TDI boasts an impressive fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for a total of 23 mpg combined. In fact, we were able to go from LA to Las Vegas and back on a full tank and still have a quarter tank remaining.

7) Room to Work

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The Touareg is a two-row, five passenger crossover SUV but does have a few tricks up its sleeve. Reclining seat-back cushions and 6.3 inches of fore/aft seat travel allow those in back to feel comfortable.

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The seat position is also high enough to provide a decent view. Cargo capacity is quite good with 32.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 64 cubic feet available with the 40/20/40-split rear-seat back tucked down. There is also a 12 V plug for electronics and dedicated AC vents.

Final Thoughts

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The MSRP price on our 2014 VW Touareg TDI R-Line was $58,525. For some, paying this much for an SUV from a brand that is known more for being mainstream and mass-market may be hard to swallow. But if you take into consideration the underpinnings of the Touareg, what you’re really getting is a Porsche Cayenne for a lot less money. The interior is high-quality with no major disappointments other than being fairly vanilla without many high-tech accouterments. The R-line looks the part with its more athletic physique and is certainly attractive in its own right. Sure, you don’t have the bragging rights per se or the truly luxurious appointments found in a BMW X5 or Mercedes ML350, but then again that may not matter to you.The Touareg truly has all the nuts and bolts that make for an exceptional SUV and at a price point that actually makes sense.

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The Breakdown


Styling
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Interior
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Performance
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Off-Road Capability
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