Volkswagen Touareg Review 2023

Written by Andy Brady

heycar ratingFlagship SUV updated for 2023
  • 2018
  • SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel, Plug-in Hybrid

Quick overview


  • Huge cabin space and a big boot
  • Amazing infotainment functionality
  • Very quiet on the road


  • Lacks the prestige image of some rivals
  • No seven-seat option
  • Just as expensive as posh competitors

Overall verdict on the Volkswagen Touareg

"The Volkswagen Touareg is a big, brash SUV that combines a superb interior with punchy petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines. A minor update in 2023 means it still looks fresh today, although some will struggle to justify such a high price tag for a car from a mainstream manufacturer."

Volkswagen Touareg Review 2023: front dynamic

A flagship SUV since the early 2000s, the Volkswagen Touareg is pitched against the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. While rivals try to tempt you with the ultimate practicality of seven seats and clever folding mechanisms (the VW Touareg only has five seats), others make claims of being the sportiest-driving car in the class. The Touareg’s party piece, however, is rather different: it’s all about the tech.

That tech in question centres around the infotainment screen. Volkswagen's 15.0-inch Discover Pro Max digital display is now standard across the range along with another 12.0-inch screen behind the steering wheel. It's all very glitzy but that doesn't come at the expense of user-friendliness - it's very responsive and easy to get your head around.

There’s technology elsewhere, too. The car shares the same underpinnings as exotic machinery such as the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, and clever optional upgrades such as air suspension, four-wheel steering and active body roll mitigation are offered, even if some of them are very pricey indeed.

But in its standard form, the Volkswagen Touareg is still a very capable thing to drive. It has an athletic edge (but not as overtly sporting as a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5) and offers reasonable comfort (although it’s not as cosseting as an Audi Q7 or Mercedes GLE). That’s some pretty esteemed company to be in, and before you go thinking that Volkswagen’s offering could be a cheap option, don’t. The Touareg has enough zeros in its price to match any of them.

The engine line-up has been expanded in 2023, although we reckon the old-fashioned 3.0-litre diesel will still be a strong choice for many Touareg buyers - especially if you plan to make the most of its 3500kg towing capacity. For those who live in a city centre or have a short commute, one of the two plug-in hybrid models will be a slightly more future-proof option.

Prices of a new Volkswagen Touareg start from around £68,000, while the most desirable models are more than £80,000. The smart money goes on a used Volkswagen Touareg, though - you can pick up a three-year-old example for half the price of a new one, and you won't be missing out on a great deal.

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Volkswagen Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of VW Touareg cars for sale. If you're looking for the older version, you need our used Volkswagen Touareg (2010-2018) review.

If you like the idea of driving a posh SUV that doesn't have an Audi, Mercedes or BMW badge, the Volkswagen Touareg is a great choice. The lack of a seven-seat option does limit its market slightly, but it's still a very comfortable and versatile SUV. Its expanded engine line-up broadens its appeal, too.

We'd avoid the basic early models - those without the 15-inch touchscreens are looking a little dated inside now; you're missing one of the Touareg's best features by not having it. That aside, there's little reason not to go save money by hunting out a used Touareg - the updates made in 2023 are pretty inconsequential.

In terms of engine, buy the one which suits your need the best. The diesels are great for those who cover a lot of miles or are looking to tow a caravan, while the plug-in hybrids are better suited to those who need a car for short journeys or driving around town. Then there's the petrol, which is ideal for anyone who likes to visit the petrol station regularly.

As a large five-seat luxury SUV, the Volkswagen Touareg has no shortage of rivals. The BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE spring to mind as the most obvious, despite the fact that both can also be had with seven seats, and other seven-seaters such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 will also be trying to tempt you. 

Meanwhile there are any number of Land Rover and Range Rover products that could be considered rivals: Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover Velar, Range Rover Sport, you name it. The Lexus RX will also be an option for those who value reliability and quality, while the Porsche Cayenne is a slightly flashier choice that's brilliant to drive.

Comfort and design: Volkswagen Touareg interior

"With its high seating position and a commanding view of the road ahead, you'll feel like the king of the road when driving the Volkswagen Touareg."

Volkswagen Touareg Review 2023: interior dashboard

There’s lots of adjustment for both the seat and the steering wheel in the Volkswagen Touareg, allowing folk of all shapes and sizes to find a comfy position. Massive windows and the raised driving position mean your view out is good in all directions, too.

Aside from the touchscreen infotainment systems we’ll talk about in a minute, there are hardly any switches on the dashboard as pretty much everything is controlled through the screen. The more basic setup has physical shortcut buttons down each side, which makes the system marginally less distracting to use on the move, but in the higher grade setup, these disappear.

You’ll find a lot more buttons smattered across the steering wheel, though, and because these buttons - and their markings - are very small, learning what everything does will take some time. 

It's definitely an elegant, minimalist design, and there's no denying the huge screen in posher versions looks cool. But you'll sometimes find yourself longing for a simple button for a function that's buried in a touchscreen sub-menu. 

Competing with the likes of the BMW X5, Range Rover Sport and Audi Q7, and with a price tag to match, you’d expect the Volkswagen Touareg’s cabin to have some serious wow-factor in terms of quality. Earlier models lacked an element of this, unfortunately - but improvements when the Touareg was facelifted in 2023 brought it up to scratch in this regard. We still don't think it's got the fanciest interior in the class, but it generally looks and feels pretty upmarket.

The infotainment system you get in the Volkswagen Touareg varies according to how old your car is and which trim grade you choose, and it greatly affects how cutting-edge your car feels.

On pre-2023 models, the more basic trims (SE, SEL and R-Line) got a perfectly serviceable system with a large 9.2-inch colour touchscreen, and it brought together all the regular functionality you’d expect. DAB radio, Bluetooth, 3D navigation, MP3 playback, SMS handling, voice control and Apple Carplay/Android Auto were all provided. There’s also some functionality you might not expect, too, such as various connected services, gesture control and the ability to operate the infotainment remotely through your smartphone. 

Select a higher-grade trim (SEL Tech, R-Line Teck and Black Edition), however - or one sold since 2023 - and you get the magnificently named Innovision system. This provides you with a fully configurable 12-inch digital instrument screen behind the steering wheel, and combines it with an enormous 15-inch touchscreen all presented in one combined unit. It looks very swish and very high-tech, and it completely transforms the feel of the cabin.

It also adds some extra infotainment functionality, too, such as hybrid radio (which combines broadcast radio and the internet for the best sound quality) and navigation that can anticipate your destination. The software that controls both systems is very similar, and it works quite well, with logical menus, fast reactions and sharp, clear graphics.

The Volkswagen Touareg’s performance in this area much depends on what you’re expecting from it. Many big SUVs offer seven seats, while the VW only has five, so obviously it can’t match those for versatility. However, because size-wise it bridges the gap between classes - compare it with Audi models, and it’s bigger than a Q5, but smaller than a Q7 - it’s probably a bit small to try and squeeze in another pair of seats anyway.

For five, though, it’s very roomy indeed. The front seats have loads of space, as you’d expect, but those in the back are spoiled for room, too, with acres of head-and legroom. The rear seats can also be slid forwards and backwards to alter the bias between rear legroom and boot space, and they can be reclined in three stages to allow passengers to hunker down for a snooze. 

The cabin is also wide enough to carry three across the rear bench in relative comfort, and although there’s a transmission tunnel that the middleman will have to straddle, it’s not as intrusive on foot space as some similar cars. If you have bulky child seats to fit in the rear, two will fit easily and you might get a small booster in between, but trying to fit three full-size ones is probably pushing it.

The boot is massive, so will deal with pushchairs and flatpacks without missing a beat. The rear seats fold down to create even more cargo space, and in this format, the space available is truly enormous. There’s no step in the load floor, either, and though the backrests of the rear seats do lie at a slight angle.

A space-saver spare wheel is provided as standard, which will be good news if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of relying on a pot of sealant which half the time doesn’t work.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Volkswagen Touareg like to drive?

"The Volkswagen Touareg might share its underpinnings with the Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus, but it's definitely set up to be comfy rather than sporty."

Volkswagen Touareg Review 2023: front dynamic

More affordable versions of the Volkswagen Touareg have a passive suspension as standard. The low-speed ride is a bit firm, meaning a few jitters and jolts when plodding through town, but not to a degree that’ll annoy you, and things do even out at speed. But while most buyers will be satisfied by this suspension setup, it’s not all that special, either.

The air suspension is much more like it, though. This is now standard on Black Edition and R models (you could get it as an option on earlier Touaregs, or standard on the Black Edition). If you can find a car with it fitted, it’s well worth having. With five selectable driving modes focusing on comfort at one end of the scale to sportiness at the other, it delivers a far more polished ride.

Whichever suspension your car has, the Touareg handles pretty neatly, with bags of grip and traction from the standard four-wheel-drive system and good control over body roll in bends. The steering is good, too, with a reassuring amount of weight and feel through the wheel. 

Four-wheel steering - which turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds to tighten up the turning circle, and in the same direction at high speed to aid stability - was another option buyers of new cars could choose, and it’s very effective. You wouldn’t so much describe the Touareg as fun - it’s a bit too big and heavy for that - but it’s very capable.

There's quite a comprehensive range of engines available in the Volkswagen Touareg, including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power.

The entry-level 3.0-litre diesel motor gives you 231PS and it has all the performance most buyers will need. Strong low down pull gets the car going at a meaningful rate without you having to work the engine to its limits, and if you do find the need to do just that, it also has a very decent turn of speed. It's also quite smooth and refined. 

The other diesel is very similar in character and power delivery, unsurprisingly, but with 286PS to play with, it’s a good bit quicker. With a 0-62mph sprint time of 6.4 seconds, it makes very light work of a motorway slip road.

Don't fancy a diesel Touareg? The 3.0-litre petrol sells in small numbers but might suit those with a low annual mileage. With 340PS, it cuts the 0-62mph dash to just 6.1 seconds. Like the diesels, maximum pull is available from low down in the rev range, but there’s more to be gained by revving it out. It's much thirstier, however, and doesn't up the performance or fun threshold over the diesel as much as you might expect. 

We'd recommend one of the plug-in hybrid models over the petrol. These add an electric motor to the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, aiding efficiency while also providing a boost in performance. The entry-level eHybrid (used in the Touareg Elegance) produces a combined 381PS and 450Nm of torque, accelerating to 62mph in a pretty swift 5.9 seconds. The Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid packs 462PS and 450Nm, taking it to 62mph in 5.1 seconds (making it the fastest Touareg you can buy).

Every version uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is generally excellent. It slushes its way through the ratios smoothly and competently, with only the smallest amount of hesitation when pulling off or changing gear.

All the engines in the Volkswagen Touareg keep to themselves to an impressive degree. The diesels emit a bit more noise and vibration than the petrols and plug-in hybrids do, but they’re still really smooth and quiet in most situations. You have to rev them really hard before they start to sound coarse, and with such strong low-to mid-range muscle, you’ll simply never need to. The petrol, meanwhile, stays smooth and serene no matter how many revs you subject it to.

Other sources of exterior noise are also really well contained. You’ll hear very little in the way of wind noise, even at high motorway speeds, and despite the fat tyres, road noise is also really well subdued. The suspension goes about its work quietly, too, making this a very quiet car overall. It's certainly up there with other posh SUVs such as the BMW X5 in that respect. 

Like many cars in its class, the Volkswagen Touareg has scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. However, delve into the results, and you’ll find that some rivals have scored higher in the individual areas.

There’s plenty of kit laid on to help stop folk getting hurt in the event of a collision. That includes a bonnet that pops up automatically to provide better protection for pedestrians, and six airbags to protect those inside in the event of a shunt.

There’s lots more kit to help prevent you having a shunt in the first place, too. Active cruise control keeps you a safe distance from the car in front when you’re cruising along, and the system also incorporates automatic emergency braking, which applies the anchors if an impending impact is detected. Traffic sign recognition, a lane-keeping aid and parking sensors at both ends are also included in the standard roster. 

A reversing camera is now standard across the range on 2023 Volkswagen Touareg models, while Black Edition models and above get a system that helps you steer into a parking space.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a VW Touareg cost to run?

"The most efficient Volkswagen Touareg will depend on the kind of driving you cover. For motorway miles, a diesel will be the most frugal. Around town, we'd recommend the Touareg eHybrid."

Volkswagen Touareg Review 2023: rear dynamic

The plug-in hybrid models can officially cover up to 31 miles on an electric charge. That means the Touareg will essentially act like an electric vehicle, capable of covering the school run under electric power alone. But once the battery's empty, it's essentially a large petrol SUV - so don't expect to get anywhere near the official 128.4mpg figure (or 122.8mpg for the Volkswagen Touareg R eHybrid). 

Buy a diesel Volkswagen Touareg and you should see 34.4mpg on a good day - the lack of any mild-hybrid electrical assistance means it's not as efficient as most rivals. It's more efficient than the petrol, though, which has an official fuel economy figure of 25.7mpg.

Volkswagen's had a bit of a sketchy reliability record in recent years. Some of the infotainment systems have been plagued with gremlins, while the brand ranked a mediocre 21st place in the latest Satisfaction Index.

We've heard of very few common issues with the Volkswagen Touareg, though, while its engines and underpinnings are used across a wide variety of VW Group models. Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus customers wouldn't accept anything less than perfection, so the Touareg should be pretty well built.

Insurance groups for the latest Volkswagen Touareg are yet to be announced but expect it to sit between groups 35 and 45 depending on trim level. That could potentially mean it'll be quite expensive to insure - so be sure to shop around for quotes before buying your new Touareg.

Because this generation of Touareg was released after the VED tax rules changed in 2017, and because all versions cost more than the £40,000 threshold when new, all Touaregs are subject to the £390 ‘expensive car’ surcharge. That, added to the standard £180 rate, means you’ll pay a total of £570 per year (apart from PHEV models, which qualify for a £10/year discount).

After the sixth year of the car’s life, however, that surcharge will be dropped and you'll pay £180/year in tax (or £170/year for the plug-in hybrids).

This is the same as all of the Touareg's competitors, unless you buy an electric SUV such as the Audi Q8 e-tron.

How much should you be paying for a used Volkswagen Touareg?

"It's a bit of a myth that the Volkswagen Touareg is a budget alternative to the Audi Q7 or Porsche Cayenne. It's every bit as expensive as rivals to buy new - but look for a secondhand Touareg and you can get a bit of a bargain."

Volkswagen Touareg Review 2023: side profile

Around £32,000 will buy a 2020 Volkswagen Touareg on heycar - that's quite a chunky saving compared to a new one. A one-year-old example can be picked up for around £48,000, which still strikes us as reasonable value for money.

If you do want a brand new Volkswagen Touareg, there's a bit of an anomaly with prices. The entry-level Touareg Elegance starts from £68,950, while the mid-spec Touareg Black Edition is priced from £67,780. That's because the Elegance is only available as a plug-in hybrid, while the Black Edition is offered with (more affordable) diesel and petrol engines. The top-spec Volkswagen Touareg R is priced from £80,510.

The 2023 Volkswagen Touareg line-up is made up of Elegance, Black Edition and R models.

Standard equipment on the Volkswagen Touareg Elegance includes 20-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, four-zone climate control, the Comfort package (with keyless access and electric tailgate), a 15.0-inch navigation system, an opening panoramic sunroof, IQ.Light HD matrix headlights, heated front seats and a rear-view camera system.

The Volkswagen Touareg Black Edition adds 21-inch black alloy wheels, black exterior highlights, air suspension, Memory pack plus with power seats, Park Assist Pro with Area view, ergoComfort front seats and rear tinted glass.

The Volkswagen Touareg R comes with 22-inch alloy wheels, Puglia leather trim, active climate front seats, interior leather quilting, interior ambient lighting and sill panel mouldings with illuminated R logo.

Before the 2023 update, the Volkswagen Touareg SE started the range. Standard equipment on this included four powered windows, two-zone climate control, alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, keyless go and heated front seats. 

You’d really want leather seats in a car like this, though, and many folk would upgrade to SE L trim purely for that reason. They’ll also get ambient lighting and extra external styling elements on top of that. In fact, so many people did upgrade to SE L trim that VW discontinued the SE shortly after launching the Touareg. 

SE L Tech added a powered tailgate as well as the fancy Innovision system we mentioned earlier. R-Line trim gets sportier styling, four-zone climate control and a powered tailgate, but makes do with the lower-grade infotainment system, while R-Line Tech got the higher-grade Innovision system, along with powered front seats.

The Black Edition is the all-singing one, and that comes with comfy air suspension, a panoramic glass roof, 21-inch wheels and clever LED matrix headlamps that are very powerful.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

'Touareg' is the name of a nomadic tribe from the Sahara, Northern Africa. Its literal translation is "free folk".
The Volkswagen Touareg uses the VW Group's MLB platform and shares its basic underpinnings with the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. It's also related to the ultra-pricey Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, which is something you can brag to your mates down the pub.
No. Unlike its sister car the Audi Q7 the Touareg only comes as a five-seater, which does mean you get a very large boot, but it lacks the passenger carrying flexibility of some rivals.
The Touareg has a massive 810-litre loading bay - that’s slightly bigger than what you’ll find in an Audi Q7 and quite a lot more than you get in a BMW X5. Fold down the middle seats and you’ll free up a whopping 1800 litres of carrying capacity.

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