Rodney Dangerfield famously complained that he never received a scintilla of respect.
In terms of overall popularity, the Volkswagen Touareg has had the same issue since its 2004-model-year launch.
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Perhaps it’s the nearly unpronounceable name (Touareg, or Twah-regg, refers to a nomadic Sahara-dwelling tribe), its low-key styling or a price tag that outdistances many of its luxury competitors.
But it could also be that people shopping for vehicles in this bracket are reluctant to spend in excess of 50 large for a Volkswagen, regardless of how proficient it is at churning up the sod.
These folks can cross-shop VW’s Audi offshoot for the five-passenger, V6-equipped Q5 sport ute that offers upscale brand name cachet for about the same price as a new Touareg.
Fortunately VW has managed to attract sufficient fans of the marque to invest in an updated second-generation wagon that wraps its rugged underpinnings in a more attractive package.
Now that the slimmed-down Touareg has also been made more attractive and less thirsty, Volkswagen can likely expect more look-sees and a less of the Rodney Dangerfield treatment.
A mix of new and old can be found beneath the Touareg’s freshly formed hood. A 280-horsepower 3.6-litre V6 (TSI) carries over as the base gasoline engine.
Still optional is a 225-horsepower 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel (TDI) that makes 406 pound-feet of torque.
The TDI is rated at 11.9 l/100 km in the city and 8.0 on the highway, compared with 12.3/8.8 l/100 km for the TSI.
Wider, shorter and lighter
The Touareg is now a bit wider, but shorter than before and has been stretched by about 3.8 centimetres between the front and rear wheels.
However, the greatest singular advancement is in the 160 kilograms that have been excised from the vehicle. Most of the seven-per-cent weight reduction comes from lightening the platform and powertrain as well as a number of key suspension components that are now constructed of aluminum.
All Touaregs come standard with VW’s dual-range 4MOTION all-wheel-drive setup that in normal driving situations maintains a 40:60 front-to-rear torque bias. The system also features a locking centre differential that fixes the torque split to maximize traction over slippery terrain.
For 2011, Comfortline, Highline and Execline trim levels are offered. All feature a wealth of luxury content.