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Volkswagen Touareg 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.3
It doesn't matter if you don't know how to pronounce Touareg, but there is something you really ought to know about the Volkswagen Touareg Monochrome 1500 TDI.

The Touareg is the big SUV in Volkswagen’s Australian line-up with the name everybody seems to pronounce differently.

Our Monochrome 150 TDI test vehicle is a special edition which adds advanced safety features and styling changes which we’re about to tell you all about. But there's one thing you really should know, before buying any Touareg. Read on to find out what it is.

Volkswagen Touareg 2018: 150 TDI MONOCHROME
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$60,830

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

At $74,990, the Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI costs $6000 more than the 150 TDI it’s based on, but this special edition adds extra equipment. We’re talking a proximity key and push-button start, power tailgate, heated steering wheel with paddle shifters, tinted rear windows and 19-inch ‘Moab’ wheels.

The Monochrome also comes with advanced safety equipment and design elements which aren’t on the 150TDI - you can read more about this in the sections below.

Along with those additional bits the Monochrome picks up all of the 150 TDI’s features. There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, rear view camera with guidance lines, DVD player, Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery, heated and power adjustable front seats, bi-xenon headlights and LED running lights.

There’s also dual-zone climate control with directional vents in the second row.

Be prepared for know-it-all neighbours peering over the fence telling you the Touareg’s too expensive. Yes, it’s pricey for a Volkswagen, but when you compare it to high-end SUVs such as BMW’s X5, Mercedes-Benz’s GLE and Audi’s Q7 it’s at least $20K less.

If that still doesn’t convince those next door, drop the C-bomb on them. No, not that one, the other one – ‘Cayenne’, as in Porsche Cayenne. Being part of the Volkswagen family the Touareg is the Cayenne’s close sibling, and shares a high percentage of design DNA (including the same platform) but the Porsche costs about $110K for the base diesel V6.

The standard features list may look great, but the truth is much of the gear isn't that modern. (image credit: Richard Berry) The standard features list may look great, but the truth is much of the gear isn't that modern. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI’s price is interesting, because it’s not too far above the list price of the similarly sized top-of-the-range Toyota Kluger Grande ($69,906), and Mazda CX-9 Azami ($64,790).

With similar dimensions but a bit dearer, the Lexus RX350 ($84,700) is also in range. Finally, and you may not have considered it, the closest fit to the Touareg Monochrome is a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited ($67,700).

The standard features list for the Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI may look great, but the truth is much of the gear isn't that modern. For starters, the screen's graphics feel dated, as does the instrument cluster.

So, here’s the thing you must know before you buy the Touareg: a new-generation Touareg is scheduled to arrive in 2019. This will be a totally new car, with different styling and more up-to-date technology.

If it was me I’d hold off until this came out. If you’re looking for a bargain on an already excellent car, you might want to purchase this Touareg – you can bet the new one will be more expensive and dealers will be keen to shift the current version.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Monochrome edition adds black touches to the mirror caps, grille and roof rails, while inside you’ll find two-tone black and 'Moonrock Grey' vienna leather upholstery, aluminium and gloss black trim to the dashboard and a 'Titanium' and black headliner.

But the Monochrome styling isn’t enough to hide that this tough-looking big brute, like Schwarzenegger, is looking elderly. That’s understandable because this current model has been around since 2010 and as mentioned a new generation of the SUV will be out in 2019.

The Touareg and Porsche Cayenne share the same architecture, platform, engines and many other components, and you can see some obvious family resemblances, particularly those big curvy haunches and the rear of the car.

The Touareg comes standard with 19-inch ‘Moab’ wheels. (image credit: Richard Berry) The Touareg comes standard with 19-inch ‘Moab’ wheels. (image credit: Richard Berry)

That said, strategic styling updates over the years have gone a long way towards giving the Touareg SUV its own look.

The Touareg’s cabin is roomier than the Cayenne, but more on that below. That interior, though, is beginning to age, and if you climb out of a new Volkswagen, like a Tiguan, and into the Touareg you’ll feel like you’re getting out of 2018 and into 2013. Still the interior is well crafted, with an excellent fit and finish.

How big is the Touareg? A look at the dimensions shows it to be 4801mm end-to-end, 1940mm across, and 1732mm tall.

As a model comparison the Toyota Kluger is 4865mm long, 1925mm wide and 1730mm high, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4828mm bumper-to-bumper, 1943mm in width, and stands 1802mm tall.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The inside of a shipping container would feel cramped after being in the Touareg’s cabin with excellent head, leg, and shoulder room in the front and back. At 191cm tall there aren’t many vehicles that offer this much space behind my driving position. There’s about 60mm between my knees and the seatback, which is exceptional.

The only seating issue I can see is that there are just five of them. There’s no third row, and this is a weakness in that the Touareg is big enough to handle more, just like the Toyota Kluger, but there’s not even an option to have them fitted.

  • If you climb out of a new Volkswagen, like a Tiguan, and into the Touareg you’ll feel like you’re getting into 2013. (image credit: Richard Berry) If you climb out of a new Volkswagen, like a Tiguan, and into the Touareg you’ll feel like you’re getting into 2013. (image credit: Richard Berry)
  • There’s only one USB port but three 12-volt outlets – one in the front, another in the second row and a third in the boot. (image credit: Richard Berry) There’s only one USB port but three 12-volt outlets – one in the front, another in the second row and a third in the boot. (image credit: Richard Berry)
  • The Touareg’s cargo capacity is good at 580 litres, beating the Kluger’s 529 litres of luggage space. (image credit: Richard Berry) The Touareg’s cargo capacity is good at 580 litres, beating the Kluger’s 529 litres of luggage space. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The Touareg’s cargo capacity is good at 580 litres, beating the Kluger’s 529 litres of luggage space.

Storage elsewhere in the cabin is great, too: there are two cupholders in the fold-down armrest in the back, two cupholders up front and bottle holders in all the doors. Under the split-opening centre console armrest is a deep and long storage bin, another covered smaller tray in front of the shifter and drawers under the driver’s and front passenger’s seats.

There’s only one USB port but three 12-volt outlets – one in the front, another in the second row and a third in the boot.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI has a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 making 150kW/450Nm. This is the same engine as the V6 TDI grade but with a lower output.

This engine is a gem – it’s exceptionally quiet and smooth for a diesel, and the torque comes in 500rpm lower than the V6TDI at 1250rpm.

Apart from the ‘Cruiser you’ll be hard pressed to find a better, comfier SUV for towing. (image credit: Richard Berry) Apart from the ‘Cruiser you’ll be hard pressed to find a better, comfier SUV for towing. (image credit: Richard Berry)

An eight-speed automatic transmission shifts gears seamlessly, but a little slowly, which is fine because the Touareg is for cruising, not racing.

Touaregs are all-wheel drive with a braked towing capacity of 3500kg – that’s up there in our top 10 vehicles for towing alongside the Ford Ranger, Toyota’s LandCruiser 200 Series and HiLux. Apart from the ‘Cruiser you’ll be hard pressed to find a better, comfier SUV for towing.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Diesel engines use less fuel than petrol engines, but even if you wanted a petrol Touareg you’d have to find a second-hand one because they were dropped from the Australian line-up years ago.

The 150TDI is the most economical in the range with Volkswagen claiming it’ll only use 7.2L/100km over a combination of urban and open roads. If you plan on not leaving the city you’ll see something closer to 10.3L/100km which is the number our test car's trip computer reported. Still, good for a 2.1 tonne vehicle.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Touareg hasn’t been tested by ANCAP or its continental cousin EuroNCAP, so I can’t give you a star rating, but I can tell you it’s worth going for the Monochrome because of the extra advanced safety equipment it brings, such as AEB (city) and adaptive cruise control. The LED tail-lights this edition adds could also come under the safety heading, too.

As you'd expect there are airbags galore with curtain bags extending to cover the second row and outer rear seat airbags, too. And, of course, there’s traction and stability control and even a rollover sensor system which will deploy the airbags if it detects you’re about to really mess things up.

The Touareg was once a leader in terms of advanced safety tech, but again the age of this car means the standard equipment is no longer stand-out stuff.

For child seats, you’ll find three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts across the rear row.

A space saver spare wheel can be found under the boot floor.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI is covered by Volkswagen’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months. According to Volkswagen’s servicing price calculator you can expect to pay $495 for the first service, $719 for the next, $593 for the third, $909 for the fourth visit and back to $495 for the fifth.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

If you don’t have much time all you need to know is the Touareg Monochrome 150TDI has a comfortable ride, plenty of grunt and good grip, but it’s not the most dynamic beast with body roll in the corners and heavy(ish) steering which makes navigating through car parks feel a bit like hard work at times.

This Touareg doesn’t have the off-road capability of a LandCruiser, but it will take you further afield than many SUVs. (image credit: Richard Berry) This Touareg doesn’t have the off-road capability of a LandCruiser, but it will take you further afield than many SUVs. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The Monochrome 150 TDI doesn’t come with air suspension (the V6 TDI does), but the double wishbone suspension front and rear (with aluminium control arms) does a great job of keeping the ride civilised.

This Touareg doesn’t have anywhere near the off-road capability of say a LandCruiser, but the all-wheel drive system will take you further afield than many SUVs. Approach and departure angles of 25 degrees aren’t bad, and neither's a wading depth of 500mm, but a low 205mm ground clearance will be an issue if you’re planning on venturing too far off the highway.

Verdict

The Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI takes a great SUV and adds some much-needed items – such as AEB and adaptive cruise control while improving the looks further with those wheels and upholstery.

Better suited as a comfortable highway cruiser that will eat up the kays without being too thirsty, the Touareg Monochrome 150 TDI is a superb choice for towing.

The thing you really must be aware of is the next generation Touareg is expected in 2019, and will be more modern in every way. Are you willing to wait?

Would you wait until the new-generation Touareg arrives or jump at the chance of getting a potential bargain with the current model? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$73,990
Based on 31 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$58,990
Highest Price
$89,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
150 TDI 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO No recent listings 2018 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG 2018 150 TDI Pricing and Specs
150 TDI Element 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $58,990 – 62,990 2018 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG 2018 150 TDI Element Pricing and Specs
150 TDI MONOCHROME 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $60,830 – 69,960 2018 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG 2018 150 TDI MONOCHROME Pricing and Specs
V6 ADVENTURE 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO No recent listings 2018 VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG 2018 V6 ADVENTURE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Safety7
Ownership6
Driving7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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