Is the Touareg a family-friendly SUV for long hauls?
My wife is from Oman and thus we tend to visit Muscat often- usually once every three or four months. With the kids’ schools closed for a couple of weeks for spring break, it was once again time for the 400+ km drive and I thought I’d take one of the cars we have reviewed to see how it fares for a long journey.
I called up VW and luckily they had a Touareg available for the weekend. It wasn’t the top of the line V8 but the V6 model which lacks some of the bells and whistles of its more powerful sibling. I was actually glad that I managed to get the V6 as I knew the V8 would consume more petrol.
This being a long journey and one with kids, there were a few things that I needed to make sure of- safety being the first aspect and nine airbags certainly puts your mind at comfort. The higher-end model features two 2.4GHz radar sensors that help detecting vehicles approaching from the rear and work with Lane Assist to warn you when changing lanes. Also present on the higher-end model is a camera that gives you a full top-down view of the Touareg.
The next thing that was important was fuel economy. I was driving almost a thousand kilometers and didn’t want the car journey costing me as much as an airplane ticket. The Touareg has a tank that can hold 100 liters of fuel which, at the current costs of Super 95, translated to about 170 Dirhams for a full tank. While driving on the highway I was getting a little over 10km/liter but with city driving added, that dropped down to an average of about 7.5km/liter. That’s actually pretty impressive for a V6.
One of the reason’s I got such great mileage on the highway is because of cruise control. I set the speed to 130km/hour with ease and that helped conserving fuel. The higher end model features adaptive cruise control which automatically detects any car in front of you and slows down and then resumes the speed once you’re clear.
With safety and fuel-efficiency in check, the next thing I looked at was connectivity. With my iPhone 4S, I was able to connect to a Bluetooth headset profile allowing me to talk on the phone hands-free. Also with a little bit of digging, I managed to connect to the A2DP profile allowing me to wirelessly stream stereo audio from my iPhone thus allowing me to listen to my music and audio books without any wires involved. A 3.5mm jack is also present, however there was no USB port on my model which is always helpful in charging your mobile devices.
The touch-screen on the Touareg allows you to control the media as well as other settings such as air conditioning and car controls. Navigation is also something that could work well with a large touchscreen and I would have liked to test that on the Touareg- it is especially helpful when you’re exploring cities beyond your home and workplace. However, the model I received did not feature navigation
VW also places many of the controls on the steering wheel such as buttons for volume control and media skipping as well as calling and going through your phone list. The in-dash display if of reasonably high resolution and full color making navigating it fairly easy. Sadly, pausing a track can’t be done from the steering wheel and you have to reach out to the touch screen to do that. Maybe VW could use the OK button on the steering wheel to add that functionality while playing a media file.
Last and certainly not the least, when you’re driving over four hours, you need something comfortable and the Touareg scores pretty high on that. The model I received had electric leather seats that were pretty easy to sink into. Other than the usual controls for adjusting your seat, you also have options for lower back and lumbar support. The Panoramic roof is humongous and allows for a brilliant view of the sky all the way from the from seat to the back seat. Speaking of the back-seats, there is quite a bit of space and can seat three adults very comfortably. There is also plenty of space in the Touareg for luggage. The boot is massive, has an automatic close button on the lid, and features a power connector to carry things like a powered portable fridge etc.
Overall, I ended up pretty impressed with the VW Touareg. It’s a pretty good looking car with a decent engine and good technology. It’s also very roomy and comfortable and offers pretty good mileage. Prices start at AED 160,000 for the V6 which is what I drove but obviously, my model had some extras added to it. I am thinking about getting an SUV by the end of the year and the Touareg will definitely be on my shortlist.