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TAKE 2

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Mar 15, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

TAKE 2 By Reed Berry

I'm not one to brag, but I'm hanging out with a movie star. Well, actually, I am driving a movie star and apparently a very familiar one at that. Other drivers have already started pointing and commenting that they recognize the VW Touareg 2 from the exciting chase scenes in The Bourne Ultimatum. Creative product placement in a major motion picture may pay off for VW resulting in success for the Touareg 2. Although VW is known for quality automobiles, not every VW product has been a big hit for the automaker. Who can forget (or, I guess I should say who even remembers) the VW Phaeton, a pricey luxury sedan that really didn't catch on here and is no longer sold in the U.S. And then there's Eos, a sporty little convertible that looks great but you don't really hear much about.

Touareg 2 is a solid, confident vehicle that bears a slight resemblance to, and shares a platform with, the Porsche Cayenne. As the name implies, Touareg 2 is a new and improved version of its predecessor. Take a quick glance and you may not even notice any differences from the original Touareg, because the changes are quite subtle. Look a little closer and you will notice a more stylish front end . Walk to the back of the vehicle and you will find a power liftgate opens and closes at the touch of a button. The power liftgate is just the beginning. Touareg 2 is loaded with convenience features, including rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, and heatable exterior mirrors. The interior is both comfortable and functional. There is an overhead console that not only has driver and passenger map lights, but also an easy-to-read display that tells you the date, time, and the direction in which the vehicle is heading. Heated seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel add to the interior comfort. Spend a little extra - $3,400 extra to be exact - and you can add the "Lux Plus Package" that includes four-zone climate control, heatable rear seats, and a Dynaudio sound system. Also included in the package is the keyless start/stop feature that allows you to start and stop the engine by pushing a convenient button on the console. Many luxury vehicles now include or offer a keyless start/stop feature and the intelligently designed Touareg 2 is no exception.

Also available, and included on the test vehicle I'm driving, is the "Technologie Package". Go ahead and spend the extra $3,350 and pamper yourself with such amenities as a DVD-based navigation system and a six-disc CD changer. There's even an auxiliary audio input. The most important feature in the package, in my opinion, is the rear-view back-up camera. Every SUV and other high-profile vehicle should have one as it takes the guesswork out of safe backing. Speaking of safety, in addition to airbags throughout the vehicle (including side curtain airbags in both front and rear), the Touareg 2 features what VW calls "anti-intrusion side door beams". Steel reinforcements in the doors are designed to absorb and redirect impact energy in a side impact crash. As for power, the 350-horsepower FSI V8 engine is smooth and quiet. The vehicle performs efficiently and handles beautifully at various speeds and on a variety of road surfaces. That being said, you will pay for this power and performance. This is a heavy vehicle weighing in at 5,300 pounds. What does this mean to you as a potential buyer? Plan on stopping frequently to gas up.

Fuel economy on this vehicle is unimpressive. VW estimates 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway for this particular model, however a digital fuel economy display on the dash indicates that those numbers may be a bit optimistic. Maybe "fuel" and "economy" shouldn't be used in the same sentence when describing the Touareg 2 because this is certainly not an economical way to drive. Mileage estimates are not the only things in the minus column for this vehicle. Take the cost of the vehicle, for example. The test vehicle I'm driving, as equipped, is priced at $55,750 which is higher than that of some comparably equipped luxury SUVs and crossover vehicles. In addition, most other vehicles in this class offer a third row seat whereas the Touareg 2 only has a second row seat. Overall, the Touareg 2 is a solid, well-built vehicle with good looks, sporty handling and a lengthy list of impressive features. In addition to the V8 FSI, the Touareg 2 line includes the 3.6 L VR6 (V6 engine) and the V10 TDI (V10 diesel engine). - Reed Berry

SIDEBAR COMMENT When Volkswagen set out to create its first modern-day SUV, it aimed for class-leading performance both on-road and off. The Touareg does remarkably well on both counts. Few sport utility vehicles can match its off-road prowess, and the vehicle accelerates and corners exceptionally well for an SUV. Moreover, the interior creature comforts approach Rover territory. All of this comes at a cost - i.e., price and gas mileage. With the second-generation Touareg 2, Volkswagen managed to make improvements in power, safety, comfort and versatility over the original. Alas, it's still pricey and thirsty. To mitigate the former, take a look at the considerably improved V6 model. To address the latter, you'll have to get in line for the BlueMotion diesel Touareg. - Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT Agile and athletic, with a high metabolism. For more information on Volkswagen products, visit vw.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2008 VW Touareg 2 V8 FSI Price: Base MSRP: $48,320 As tested: $55,750 Engine type: 4.2 Liter FSI V8 with sequential multi-point fuel injection Horsepower: 350 @ 6,700 rpm Torque: 324 @ 3,500 rpm EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 12 / 17 Drive configuration: 4XMOTION permanent four-wheel drive system; low range gear; adaptive torque distribution Transmission type: 6-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission Steering: Servotronic power steering Suspension: Front: Double wishbone independent steel spring suspension Rear: Four link independent steel spring suspension Wheels and tires: Wheels: 19-inch alloy wheels Tires: 275/45 R19 108V, all-season tires Brakes: Power-assisted front vented disc brakes; rear vented disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock braking system Overall length: 187.2 inches Overall width: 75.9 inches Overall height: 68.0 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 5,300 lbs. 0-60 mph: 7.6 seconds 0-60 mph: 9.04 seconds

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