I provide the following for discussion - no flames, please!
The article below is from the current issue of RV Lifestyle Magazine:
The Volkswagen Touareg for 2004 ... by Garth W. Cane
This is not your father’s Volkswagen Bug- that had a rear air cooled engine and terrible heater. This premium luxury SUV frees you from the obstacles of travelling in areas that have difficult road surfaces for ordinary cars to manoeuver. The Touareg name means "free folk" and is the name of a nomadic tribe from the Sahara. With a full-time four-wheel-drive system and room for five passengers with lots of cargo (31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 71 cubic feet when folded), the Touareg boasts a trailer towing rating of 7,716 pounds in both V6 and V8.
Since the trailer hitch for the Touareg is a $1000 dealer installed option, we took our test vehicle to CedarBrae Volkswagen on Markham Road where Mike Bruene dropped the rear bumper, bolted on the hitch, installed the lighting control unit and re-program the lights, re-installed the bumper, then wired the Tekonsha brake control under the dash. This process takes about three hours to complete. I would like to think that this would be done at the factory where nothing would need to be taken apart, but VW considers that the dealers should do the installation.
The permanent four wheel drive system is called 4XMOTION™ and automatically shifts power between axles to match driving conditions, such as pulling your trailer up a gravel hill to the campground. The 4XMOTION system includes an adjustable multi-plate clutch of the center differential that is automatically controlled by the Differential Control Module. During normal operation, torque is distributed from the engine to the front and rear axles (on a 50/50% split) by the automatic transmission and center differential. The multi-plate center differential lock is allowed to disengage whenever the Differential Control Module determines a power differential between the front and rear axles is required. A transfer case, equipped with off-road reduction, delivers power to drive the wheels via electronically controlled differentials. With the option rear differential lock, up to 100% of the torque can be used by any wheel that still has traction.
Touareg’s standard independent suspension contributes to the vehicle’s outstanding on-road and off-road capabilities allowing the vehicle to navigate very difficult terrain on the way to your favorite lake. Our test vehicle had optional air suspension and Continuous Damping Control that adapts the suspension to driving conditions and vehicle speed. The damping characteristics of the shock absorbers are adjusted from the input of sensors that monitor road conditions through vehicle movement. The air suspension will raise the body in two different stages to provide more ground clearance for off-road driving. The Touareg also features a Hill Climb Assist that prevents the vehicle from rolling back on a steep incline. Not only does it keep the vehicle steady, it makes it easier to accelerate up the hill from a standing stop after photographing the scenic view from the lookout on the mountain road.
The Touareg’s body has a completely new, self-supporting construction and provides as much static and dynamic rigidity as possible. The body does not flex or twist, even in the most tortuous off-road driving conditions.
The body’s high dynamic torsional rigidity contributes to Touareg’s stability and driving comfort. The rock-solid chassis allows the doors, hood and tailgate to close without problems, even with the tightest gap tolerances. The body structure also provides optimum design for the running gear properties, and the Touareg’s front mud wings are made of a flexible plastic material for added durability. The bumpers are made of thermal-resistant, extremely rugged plastic that protects them from heat emanating from the engine compartment and exhaust system, and they are flexible enough to protect against parking lot dings.
The center console provides quick, convenient access to the controls, including the gear shift selector, mirror adjustment switch and the switch for running gear and height adjustable self-levelling suspension. All controls are positioned ergonomically, in easy sight and reach of the driver, including a knob for dampening control. Our Touareg had the standard AM/FM radio with CD player, but for Rvers, the Navigation package would be ideal for travelling in unfamiliar country.
The large tailgate with an independently opening window guarantees optimum accessibility and convenience. The two-piece tailgate, opened by invisible spring absorber units, also offers a high degree of technical details and tactile luxury. The tailgate is unlocked electronically by either the keyfob or a switch on the driver’s door and an adjustable roof rack is standard.
Touareg’s luxury character begins with world-class dual-zone Climatronic™ air conditioning system with separate temperature levels for the right and left side. An available four-zone "Climatronic" system provides two individual temperatures, air flow and air distribution zones for the front as well as the rear passengers. Both systems feature residual heating function, activated charcoal dust and pollen filter, and an air-conditioned glove box.
Touareg offers exceptionally comfortable front seating with standard eight-way manual adjustment on the V6 and standard 12-way power adjustment on the V8. The 12-way power front seats are adjustable to longitudinal position, height, seat and backrest angle by means of buttons directly on the seat. Integrated lumbar support and electrically adjustable (up/down, front/back) controls conform the seat to the best anatomical, fatigue-free position. All front seats are heatable.
The noise and comfort level of this luxury sedan are guaranteed by the acoustically insulated subframe, with double wishbone construction of the front axle and four-link suspension of the rear axle. The enhanced Traction Control System prevents the drive wheels from spinning on snow or loose gravel with braking action or engine torque. The standard Electronic Differential Lock makes it easier to drive when one wheel is on the pavement and the other on the shoulder of the road, where different surfaces have different friction, by braking the spinning wheel.
The standard engine is a V6 3.2L 24-valve that produces 220 hp at 5400 rpm and has 225 pounds-feet of torque at 3200 rpm. The optional V8 in our test vehicle produced 310 hp at 6200 rpm with 302 pounds-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. A deeper oil pan and a spraying tube facilitate oil distribution in off-road situations. More belt-to-pulley contact prevents the accessory belt from slipping when driving through water.
The six-speed automatic transmission reduces fuel consumption , and reduces emissions for quieter operation than five-speed units. The "Tiptronic" transmission allows manual-style shifting by moving the gear selector from "D" to the right and gently moving the lever forward or backward to shift the gears up or down. A Sport position automatically selects gears at higher engine speeds, resulting in quicker acceleration. This transmission is one of the smoothest shifting we have driven. It effortlessly shifts down from 6th to 5th on steep hills without losing speed, and the upshifts can hardly be felt.
The air suspension will raise the body in two different stages to provide more ground clearance for off-road driving. These variable settings give Touareg an advantage in off-road situations by providing outstanding approach angles, departure angles and breakover angles to permit the vehicle to easily negotiate hills, rocks and other rugged terrain that many conventional SUVs cannot handle.
Going down a steep hill is easier for Touareg because of Hill Descent Control. At speeds of less than 15 mph on a decline of 20 percent or more, this control automatically cuts engine torque to slow the vehicle and enhance engine control. If necessary, the brakes will be applied automatically. The sporty Touareg V8 (228 kW / 310 bhp ) develops no less than 302 pounds-feet of torque accelerating the Touareg to 100 km/hr in just 8.1 seconds.
The Touareg can climb a 45% incline and also remain stable when crossing the side of a hill. The door seals prevent water from entering, and with waterproof headlamps and connectors, special air intake ducting, the Touareg can ford water up to 500 millimeters ( 580 millimeters with air suspension) without a problem.
The key, that is like no other key, is a flat bar with grooves engraved in each side instead of notches along the edges, and has a transponder to recognize its driver.
We borrowed a 30-foot Classic Airstream travel trailer equipped with a Hensley hitch from Andy and Kirk Thomson at Can-Am RV in London for our test of the Touareg. We weighed the combination at the Flying "J" scale on Highbury Ave in London to be sure that we were within the 7700 pound design limts of the Touareg’s towing capacity. The Airstream came in at 6700 pounds giving us another 1000 pounds of load carrying capability for food and clothing.
This SUV was a delight to drive, both solo and with a trailer in tow. I had to watch that I did not accelerate too quickly with so much power available at the wheels. The Touareg handled the trailer very well in sudden lane changes at highway speeds with no body roll or diving in the corners. This is one fantastic tow vehicle that can tow a substantial trailer like the Airstream without any effort and in complete comfort.
My one disappointment was the placement of the cup holders for the driver and passenger. It was necessary to place your wrist in an unnatural position to insert the cup or remove it from its position at the rear of the console. Base price for the V8 Touareg in Canada is $60,550. Our test model equipped with Bi-xenon headlamps, winter package, 19" alloy wheels with summer tires, four corner air suspension, and rear differential lock was $69,350. The V6 will sell for $52,000.
Garth W. Cane
RV Lifestyle Magazine
Taylor Publishing Group
1020 Brevik Place,Ste 5
Mississauga, ON L4W 4N7