VW has revised the Touareg with new LED headlights, a full-width illuminated strip at the rear and uprated infotainment, with the option to wirelessly mirror your phone. Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrids are available. Here, I’m testing the Volkswagen Touareg 13.0 V6 TDI 286PS 4Motion Black Edition diesel.

What am I looking for in the Volkswagen Touareg 13.0 V6 TDI 286PS 4Motion Black Edition diesel?

Will these updates keep the VW Touareg competitive with the best SUVs for towing? Is the cabin classy enough for such a costly car?

Towing ability

The updated Touareg is available with petrol, plug-in hybrid petrol, and diesel power. Perhaps surprisingly, given the shift away from diesel, VW still expects the 286hp diesel to be the bestseller.

Its appeal for caravanners is easy to understand. As well as having plenty of top-end power, the Touareg has 443lb ft of torque, delivered from as low as 1750rpm. We all know that the best cars to tow a caravan offer stability and reliability – would the Touareg?

It offers very strong acceleration, even towing a large twin-axle caravans such as the Swift Challenger Exclusive 650L Grande that I borrowed from Broadlane Leisure.

The eight-speed gearbox changes gear smoothly, although there’s a pause before changing down. It’s quicker to respond in sport mode, or you can change gear using paddles behind the steering wheel.

Side on view of Volkswagen Touareg 13.0 V6 TDI 286PS 4Motion Black Edition
The driver sits up high with a clear view

On hilly roads, the big VW holds speed well, unfazed by pulling a 1600kg tourer up a slope. Hill starts are a doddle, too, thanks to the beefy engine and the traction from the 4Motion four-wheel-drive system.

On the motorway, the Touareg continues to impress. Few movements from the van are felt inside the car, and the VW handles crosswinds with ease. With an HGV on our inside and a white van bombing past on the outside, I noticed some movement, but the VW calmly pulled the van straight again.

The Touareg is a very reassuring tow car. Quick, stable and capable in all weathers, it is everything that a big SUV should be.

Solo driving

Leave the caravan on its pitch and the VW drives well. In fact, with 1600 fewer kilos to haul around, this is a very rapid car, capable of 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds.

Different drive modes tailor its responses to different priorities, and in sport setting, it handles well for such a big and heavy car. It can’t disguise its bulk, though – the BMW X5 feels more agile and engaging.

VW from behind
In sport setting, the VW handles well for such a big, heavy car

The VW is at its best when driven in a more relaxed mood. Set the suspension to comfort and the Touareg irons out most imperfections in the road surface, although there is some fidget at low speeds – the huge 21-inch alloys can’t help.

Likewise, the diesel engine can be a bit gruff and grumbly when cold, which is especially noticeable if you are used to a hushed hybrid tow car or fully electric car.

The engine quietens down on A-roads and motorways. This is where the VW is really at home. Aside from some road noise picked up by those big wheels and tyres, it covers long distances in quiet comfort.

Space and practicality

Unlike many large SUVs, the Touareg is only offered with five seats. If you want a large family car for towing and need a third row, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However, if five are enough, it is roomy and practical.

The driver sits up high with a clear view out, and there’s enough adjustment to suit most shapes and sizes. The seat adjusts electrically, although you’ll have to move the steering wheel by hand.

The dashboard uses a twin-screen layout rather than dials, and the digital instruments are clear and easy to read.

Cabin of the Touareg
The infotainment display is 15 inches across

The infotainment display is enormous, at 15 inches across. It’s hard to fault the graphics, and it’s more intuitive to use than many VW Group infotainment systems. VW has done away with buttons for the air conditioning, using on-screen icons instead. They are always present along the bottom of the screen, so you don’t have to select a menu before adjusting the temperature.

Those in the back have their own air-con controls, so the driver can stay alert on a long drive while passengers snooze in the warm. The full-length sunroof steals a little headroom, but there’s plenty of legroom.

The boot is huge, especially if you slide the middle row forwards to extend the capacity. Thanks to the Touareg’s air suspension, you can lower the ride height to make loading and unloading easier.

Open boot
The boot is huge, especially if you slide the middle row forwards to extend the capacity

The rear seats split and fold into three rather than two, which is handy if you need to carry long items and two passengers.

Our biggest criticism of the cabin is that there are some hard, unappealing plastics on show, which don’t seem at home in a big SUV with a premium price.

Buying and owning

The new Touareg range starts from £67,780. That buys you the Black Edition with the 231hp diesel engine. The 286hp diesel pushes the price up to £70,460.

It’s hard not to wince at a price tag of over £70,000 for a VW, but it’s competitive against similar rivals. A BMW X5 xDrive 30d M Sport costs £73,585, for example.

Running costs are low for a car with this much heft. In official tests, it returns 34.4mpg on the combined cycle, but on a long motorway run, I found 43-44mpg was achievable. I saw 23.8mpg while towing the Swift around a mixed route of country roads, A-roads and motorways.

Standard kit is comprehensive, including four-zone climate control, adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, and a variety of driver aids and safety features.

Alternatives to consider

The Audi A6 Avant is a plug-in hybrid that we rated highly, providing excellent economy and performance. Alternatively, consider the Genesis GV80 2.5T Luxury AWD, an option that comes with that third row and is generously equipped. Anoher plug-in we like is the Volvo XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T6 AWD Plus, an option that is spacious, quick and stable.

Verdict on the Volkswagen Touareg 13.0 V6 TDI 286PS 4Motion Black Edition

The Touareg faces some stiff competition from vehicles with more upmarket badges. However, it holds its own as a quick, roomy and stable four-season option, ideal if you’re planning on towing a caravan in winter.

After sorting your tow car, it’s now time to look at towing aids! Investing in the best caravan sat nav could help here, ensuring you and your tourer safely arrive at your destination.

Technical spec of the Volkswagen Touareg 13.0 V6 TDI 286PS 4Motion Black Edition

  • Price: £70,460
  • What Car? Target price: £67,399
  • Retained value after three years: N/A
  • Kerbweight: 2118kg
  • 85% of kerbweight: 1800kg
  • Gross vehicle weight: 2850kg
  • Max towing limit: 3500kg
  • Gross train weight: 6350kg
  • Towball limit: 140kg
  • Price of towball and electrics: £1195
  • Boot size: 810-1800 litres
  • Payload: From 732kg
  • Test conditions: Damp
  • Engine size: 2967cc
  • Power (hp)/rpm: 286@(rpm not stated)
  • Torque (lb ft)/rpm: 443@1750-3250rpm
  • Official combined economy: 34.4mpg
  • Towing economy: 23.8mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 215g/km
  • First year car tax: £1565
  • Second year car tax: £570
  • Insurance group: 45E
  • Euro NCAP rating: 5/5

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