Volkswagen Touareg
(2011 - 2018)

  • Fantastic driving experience.
  • Excellent levels of fit and finish.
  • Spacious interior.
  • Great towing ability.
  • Poorly maintained or uncared for examples can be unreliable.
  • Interior does not stand up to years of mistreatment.
  • Long list of potential (and common) faults.
  • Various electrical gremlins.
Overview

The Touareg SUV was and remains the flagship of the Volkswagen range, long the German carmaker’s largest and priciest mainstream offering. Its first ‘7L’ generation launched globally in 2002, offering everything five-cylinder diesels and petrol V12s and oiler V10s, out to stake VW’s claim of offering a genuinely premium vehicle in a stable considered locally more as ‘semi premium’.

It was really the second generation, the ‘7P’, that settled down into the mature and serious luxury family hauler range we know today, lobbing, after some delay, in mid-2011 as a conventional six-cylinder line-up.

Sharing its technical DNA with Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, and built in the same Slovakian factory, it has the right genes for Volkswagen’s premium-grade pitch and in its fittest option-loaded form, bringing a correspondingly premium price tag. And looks a whole lot better than the pudgy first gen, too.

However, unlike its seven-seat Audi brethren the Touareg is strictly a five-seater.

Initially, four versions were offered: a base 150TDI for $63k and a choice of either high-power diesel V6 TDI or petrol V6 FSI at $78k, all featuring eight-speed automatics and constant all-wheel drive. Six-pot engines of choice were two 3.0L oiler tunes of 150kW/400Nm (150TDI) and 176kW/550Nm (V6 TDI), while the naturally aspirated 3.6L petrol made 206kW/360Nm (V6 FSI).

The tree-topper was the V6 TDI 4XMotion that, at $83k, neatly undercut low-grade Porsche and Audi alternatives while offering more off-road and touring savvy kits such as dual-range four-wheel drive, diff locking and a larger (100L) fuel tank than the ‘regular’ Touareg variants.

But options were pricey. Start ticking boxes such as a 20-inch wheels, Comfort pack, Sport interior, Dynaudio sound, nice paint and a glass roof and your nicely tweaked 4XMotion sailed north of six figures. Shrewd used buyers will sniff out the well-optioned examples for maximum bang for buck.

From early 2013 (in MY13), an R-Line version was added, bringing a stonking 4.2L twin-turbo diesel V8 good for 250kW and a huge 800Nm, a sweet combination of 5.8sec 0-100km/h performance with sub-10-litre combined consumption. Fully loaded with kit and sat on 21-inch wheels and air suspension – offered optionally on lower grades – the new king of the Touareg hill wanted for $113k.

Nine airbags are par for the gen II course and the tilt and slide rear seating is real boon for five-seater with heaps of family friendly comfort and roominess, including 580 litres of bootspace. And with 3500kg of braked towing, the Touareg is quite a capable trailer hauler in the healthier diesel specs.

The range was face-lifted in 2015 with mild styling changes and fiddle to the variant features sets. By now the slow-selling petrol FSI version had been turfed from the local line-up.

In 2017, a sporty Wolfsburg Edition lobbed at around $89k for what was ostensibly a $3500 upcharge above the mid-spec V6 TDI oiler on which it’s based. The real sleeper of its generation, though, is the Adventure that, for a tenner under $80k, was cheaper than that V6 TDI on which it’s based, yet brings height-adjustable air suspension, smaller 19-inch wheels, a 100L tank and leather trim, for what’s a price-savvy and cushy urban and highway cruiser.

In the twilight of the lifecycle, Volkswagen also offered Element and Monochrome editions, with extra gear and a two- ($71k) and six-grand upcharge ($75k) respectively over the entry 150TDI they were based off, to help move the slow-selling Touareg not nearly as hot property is the brand’s Tiguan mid-sized SUV.

Gen II was replaced by an all-new third-generation ‘CR’ Touareg that launched locally in mid 2019.

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What goes wrong
  • There have been reports of rust surrounding the rear doors.
  • Be sure to open the rear doors and look for bubbling under the paint on the curved inside edge that sits on the door rubbers.
  • The Touareg can suffer severely from water retention. For example, the sunroof drains can block.
The doors can hold water, however this is easily fixed by removing the bottom grommet. If this isn’t done and the doors hold water, all sort of problems can occur. 
The air conditioning condensate pipe can block.
  • The bulkhead drains can block with leaves over time but to resolve this, it should take approx 30 minutes to remove the wheel arch linings, pull the rubber drain bungs and clean the drains out on each side.
  • It should be noted that if this blockage is not cleared, water can get in through the pollen filter on the passenger bulkhead and run under the carpet where it can seriously damage ECUs and electronics. Therefore it is critical make sure you lift and check the underside of the carpet to see if it’s dry. If not, remove the pollen filter and see if it is also wet. If anything is wet, it’s a very bad sign.
  • There are reports that the auto lights or wipers fail to work due to problems with the sensor at the top of the windscreen.
  • The doors can fail to lock and unlock easily due to various electrical gremlins.
  • There are reports of the electric mirrors failing again due to electrical gremlins.
  • Inside, the heated seats are known to have issues, more specifically the heating pads are known to fail prematurely and will need replacing if they do.
  • There are some reports of the infotainment systems rebooting randomly as well as wiping all preset radio stations, in most cases a software update should resolve this problem.
  • Listen to the air conditioning as there are reports of clicking noises but to fix this may mean removing the dashboard to replace the heater flap servo motor. This is an inexpensive part but the amount of labour to access it may become very expensive.
  • Mechanically, the early Touareg examples are the most unreliable but they did improve in the later year models.
  • Engine wise the vast majority of Touareg in Australia (95% in fact) are the V6 diesels so it is these we’ll be focussing on.
  • Probably the most common problem is leaking injector seals. The cost to repair these varies depending on the severity of the problem but the best case scenario to fix a singular injector, if all goes according to plan, will cost approx $400.
  • But, when things get complicated, and you need to replace an injector it can cost up to $1600… Per injector… and remeber, there are six of them.
  • We should mention that that price is buying the injector NOT from VW. You can buy the same injectors far cheaper from other suppliers. I should mention this problem is rarely seen in the V8 diesel however if it does occur, you’re obviously looking at eight injectors rather than six.
  • Other common & expensive engine problems include timing chain complications which can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars to resolve, a wide range of EGR & DPF problems although the DPF issues aren’t always expensive as on many circumstances, the Touareg has just burnt through the hose that goes to the DPF pressure sensor.
  • Mechanically there are various other concerns like the eye wateringly expensive end compressors & evaporators.
  • There are plenty of electrical & software gremlins across the range too, and the mechanics and technicians we spoke to when researching mentioned that just about every Touareg they we see for servicing has at least one annoying warning or fault light. Everything from faulty washer bottle level sensors, false tyre pressure monitor alerts, to more serious engine, transmission & cam bus communication faults.
  • We are aware that there are a few examples out there that have never had a problems, and their owners may say that it is because they never cheap out on servicing, but unfortunately that’s not necessarily the case because all of these problems can and do occur on well serviced examples too.
Model range, pricing & features

150TDI

  • Price when new: $62,990 - $68,990
  • Price used: $17,000 - $50,000

The 150TDI was introduced as the base model upon the 7P’s debut in July 2011, sporting a 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel engine mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission and VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system.

Standard features included alloy wheels, 7-airbags, electric mirrors (heated and folding), dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, a multi-functional infotainment system and much more. An update in September 2012 brought 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, driver fatigue monitoring system and 12-way electric seat adjustment of the front seats.

An update in August 2014 added a face-lifted look, bi-xenon headlights, LED rear fog lights, 14-way adjustment of the front seats (electric), 8.0-inch RNS510 infotainment, satellite navigation, 60GB hard drive and a DVD player.

Standard Features:

17-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Chrome roof rails
4-MOTION all-wheel drive system
5-star ANCAP safety rating
7 airbags: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side impact and full-length curtain airbags,
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Height adjustable seatbelts for driver and front passenger
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for driver and front passenger
ISOFIX points for rear outboard seats
Child seat anchor points
Seatbelt reminder for driver and front passenger’s seat
Headrests for all occupants
Active head restraints for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Anti-slip regulation (ASR)
Rollover stability control
Front and rear parking sensors
Heated side mirrors
Electrically folding side mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear with auto up/down function for all windows
Cruise control
Headlights with low and high beam
Front fog lights
LED side indicators integrated into side mirrors
Automatic headlights
Coming/leaving home function
Daytime running lights (DRL)
Intermittent wipers with speed settings
Rain sensing (auto) wipers
Remote central locking
Engine immobiliser
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Multi-functional display with trip computer, speed, cruise control settings, fuel consumption, driver/car settings
Electromechnical handbrake
Handbrake auto hold function
Power steering
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Multi-functional leather steering wheel
Dual-zone climate control
Pollen filter
Rear air-vents
Leather upholstery
Manually adjustable driver’s and front passenger’s seat
Seat heating: driver and front passenger
6.5-inch multi-functional touchscreen (RCS550)
8-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
6-disc in-dash CD player
MP3 compatibility
Bluetooth connectivity – phone and audio streaming
AUX (3.5mm) input
iPod connectivity
USB connectivity
SD card inputs
Front 12V power outlet – 1x
Centre console storage
Glovebox – chill-able
2x cup holders – front
2x cup holders – rear
2x bottle holders – front
2x bottle holders – rear
60:40 rear folding seats
Cargo net
Luggage/load divider
Under floor storage

From September 2012:
18-inch alloy wheels
Bi-xenon headlights
LED daytime running lights
Driver fatigue monitoring system
12-Way electrically adjustable driver and front passenger’s seat
Leather ‘Vienna’ upholstery

From August 2014:
Updated exterior look: deeper radiator grille (four horizontal fins), re-profiled bumpers, new rear diffuser
Bi-xenon headlights with headlight washers
LED rear fog lights
14-Way electrically adjustable driver and front passenger’s seat
8.0-inch RNS510 infotainment touchscreen unit
Satellite navigation
60GB hard drive
DVD player

150TDI Element

  • Price when new: $69,990 - $70,990
  • Price used: $32,000 - $61,000

The 150TDI element was a limited edition model released that added 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and a proximity key.

In addition to 150TDI:

18-inch “Yukon” alloy wheels
Rear privacy glass
Anti-theft alarm with interior monitoring
Proximity key

150TDI Monochrome Edition

  • Price when new: $74,990
  • Price used: $46,000 - $64,500

The 150TDI Monochrome Edition was released in November 2017 as a limited edition featuring a black styling package, darkened LED tail-lights, ventilated front seats, titanium black headliner, gearshift paddles, heated steering wheel and a power operated tailgate.

The 150TDI Monochrome Edition also benefited from a variety of assistance technology fitted as standard such as: AEB (low speed), adaptive cruise control, side assist and proactive occupant protection.

In addition to 150TDI:

19-inch alloy wheels
Black styling package: door mirror caps, lower front grille and roof rails)
Darkened LED tail-lights
Ventilated front seats
Titanium black headliner
Heated steering wheel
Gearshift paddles
Power-operated tailgate
Adaptive cruise control
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – low speed
Side assist
Proactive occupant protection

V6 TDI / 180TDI & V6 FSI

  • Price when new: $77,990 - $81,590
  • Price used: $10,500 - $70,000

The V6 TDI (later renamed to the 180TDI) and V6 FSI were both respectively the middle of the range models in the Touareg range.

The V6 TDI/180TDI model sported the a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, with more power and torque compared to the 150TDI. In 2012, the V6TDI received a power upgrade from 176kW to 180kW.

The V6 TSI was only available in Australia for one year (discontinued in 2012), and sported a 3.6 naturally aspirated V6 engine.

In addition to 150TDI:

18-inch alloy wheels
Reversing camera with dyanmic guidelines (not available from 2012)
“Vavona ornamental wood inserts in dashboard, centre console and doors with brushed
aluminium surrounds”
Nappa leather upholstery
14-Way electrically adjustable driver and front passenger’s seat
Adjustable side bolsters
RNS510 infotainment touchscreen unit
Satellite navigation
40GB hard drive
DVD player
Foldable rear seats (remote/button operated)
Front seat map pockets

From September 2012
20-inch alloy wheels
Air suspension with adaptive dampening control
Driver fatigue monitoring system

From August 2014:
Updated exterior look: deeper radiator grille (four horizontal fins), re-profiled bumpers, new rear diffuser
Sapelli Mahagoni ornamental wood trim
Bi-xenon headlights with headlight washers
60GB hard drive
DVD player
Power-operated tailgate

From June 2015:
Proximity key
Electric steering wheel adjustment
Kerb view function for reverse camera
360-degree surround view camera

 

180TDI Wolfsburg Edition

  • Price when new: $88,990
  • Price used: $51,000 - $65,000

Released in May 2016, the Wolfsburg Edition was based on the 180TDI model and featured larger alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, dark LED tail lights, and assistance systems like AEB (low-speed), side assist, proactive occupant protection and adaptive cruise control.

In addition to 180TDI:

20-inch alloy wheels in a black finish
Rear privacy glass
Dark LED tail lights
Adaptive cruise control
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – low speed
Side assist
Proactive occupant protection

180TDI Adventure Edition

  • Price when new: $79,990
  • Price used: $50,000 - $61,000

Introduced in March 2017, the limited edition Adventure Edition was based on the 180TDI model and featured 19-inch alloys, air suspension, 100-litre fuel tank and assistance systems like AEB (low-speed), side assist, proactive occupant protection and adaptive cruise control.

In addition to 180TDI:

19-inch alloy wheels
Air suspension
100-litre fuel tank
Adaptive cruise control
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – low speed
Side assist

V6 TDI 4XMOTION

  • Price when new: $82,990 - $85,790
  • Price used: $35,000 - $72,000

The V6 TDI 4XMOTION was available until 2014, and added a variety of mechanical features for off-roading such as the 4XMOTION all-wheel drive system, transfer gearbox with low range off-road ratio; and centre and rear differentials with electrically operated differential locks.

In addition to V6 TDI:

Grey and silver coloured lower body side and bumper trim
Dual oval chrome exposed exhaust tail pipes, left and right
4XMOTION all-wheel drive system
Transfer gearbox with low range off-road ratio
Centre and rear differentials with electrically operated differential locks

4.2 TDI R-Line / 250TDI R-Line

  • Price when new: $112,990 - $116,300
  • Price used: $34,000 - $110,500

The 4.2 TDI R-Line (later renamed to the 250TDI R-Line) was the top-of-the-range model in the 7P generation of the Touareg; and fitted with a 4.1-litre turbocharged V8 diesel engine.

In addition to the V6 TDI/180 TDI model the 4.2 TDI R-Line/250TDI R-Line added a variety of luxury and comfort features as well as assistance systems like AEB (low-speed), side assist, proactive occupant protection and adaptive cruise control.

In addition to V6 TDI and V6 FSI:

21-inch alloy wheels
Sports designed front and rear bumpers
Matte black rear diffuser
“R-Line” badging
Oval exhaust tips
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – low speed
Side assist
Proactive occupant protection
Kerb view function for reverse camera
Electric steering wheel adjustment
4-zone climate control
Aluminium interior highlights
Stainless steel door handles and pedals
Heated steering wheel
Nappa leather upholstery
12-speaker Dynaudio Confidence sound system

From August 2014:
Updated exterior look: deeper radiator grille (four horizontal fins), re-profiled bumpers, new rear diffuser
Proximity key
Rear privacy glass
Bi-xenon headlights with headlight washers
LED tail lights
Tyre pressure monitor
Steering wheel gearshift paddles
Memory settings – for front seats and door mirrors
Sapelli Mahagoni ornamental wood trim
360-degree surround view camera
60GB hard drive
DVD player
Power-operated tailgate

Should you buy it?

We so want to say yes because when a Touareg is at its best, they are a genuinely wonderful SUV. However, as they age, the chances of things going horribly wrong are just a bit too high for the normal consumer.

If you’re highly mechanically inclined and relish in the thought of spending the occasional weekend deep underneath a Touareg fixing any number of the many inevitable problems, or the cost and time to repair a Touareg is easily justified, it is a yes from us, buy one.

While something like a Pajero or Prado will most likely be far more reliable, neither of those vehicles provide the levels of plush luxury and cool Euro image that the Touareg offers.

But, if the budget is tight, you have no interest in getting your hands dirty and you don’t list repairing Volkswagen SUVs as one of your favourite hobbies, then sorry but no, you should not buy a Touareg.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/unlimited kms

Servicing:

12 months/15,000kms

Tech specs

Body style:

5-door SUV

Engines:

3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel (150TDI, 150TDI Element, 150TDI Monochrome Edition, V6 TDI, 180TDI, 180TDI Wolfsburg Edition, 180TDI Adventure Edition, V6 TDI 4XMOTION)
3.6 litre V6 petrol (V6 FSI) – discounted in 2012
4.1 litre V8 turbo diesel (4.2 TDI R-Line, 250TDI R-Line) – from 2013

Power:

150kW – 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel (150TDI, 150TDI Element, 150TDI Monochrome Edition)
176kW – 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel (V6 TDI, 4XMOTION) – MY11 models only
180kW – 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel (V6 TDI, 4XMOTION, 180TDI, 180TDI Wolfsburg Edition, 180TDI Adventure Edition) – MY12 onwards
206kW – 3.6 litre V6 petrol (V6 FSI)
250kW – 4.1 litre V8 turbo diesel (4.2 TDI R-Line, 250TDI R-Line)

Torque:

400Nm – 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel (150TDI)
550Nm – 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel (V6 TDI, 4XMOTION, 180TDI, 180TDI Wolfsburg Edition, 180TDI Adventure Edition)
360Nm – 3.6 litre V6 petrol (V6 FSI)
800Nm – 4.1 litre V8 turbo diesel (4.2 TDI R-Line, 250TDI R-Line)

Transmission & drivetrains:

8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive (AWD) – marketed as 4MOTION (or 4XMOTION for V6 TDI 4XMOTION)

Fuel consumption:

7.2 – 10.1L/100km

Length:

4898mm

Width:

1965mm

Height:

1732 – 1742mm

Kerb weight:

2103 – 2315kg

Towing (unbraked/braked):

750kg / 3500kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of July 22, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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