Tour-egg? Tow-are-age? Aw, heck, it doesn’t matter anymore if Americans can’t pronounce the name of . (For the record, it’s “To-war-reg.”) , as the less expensive, roomier (and, soon, ) are taking over VW’s large-SUV efforts here. The Touareg—VW lifted that name from a nomadic people of the African Sahara desert—will live on in Europe and China, where the all-new, third-generation model has just been introduced.
Weird name notwithstanding, the weight keeping down the Touareg’s appeal and sales volume in the U.S. market has been its cost. This is an expensive SUV that, since its launch in 2003, has shared bones with the luxury-badged Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. Mix in the costs associated with importing it to the States (in contrast, the Atlas is built in Tennessee), and it’s not hard to see why Americans never truly embraced it. The all-new model continues that rich tradition (pun intended), relying on the same MLB platform that underpins the latest Audi and Porsche versions and looking for all the world like an Audi that someone mistakenly branded as a VW.
Up front is a plunging wide-mouth grille with classy horizontal slats, while the sides and rear of the rig are defined by strong horizontal creases. We even see some Bentley Bentayga in the shoulders over the rear wheels, a reminder that the Bentley also uses a version of the VW Group’s shared SUV platform. Compared with the previous Touareg, the new one is claimed to be 234 pounds lighter despite being longer and wider, and it boasts greater cabin and luggage space. Initially, the SUV will be powered by V-6 gasoline and diesel engines, with a turbo-diesel V-8 coming later; China, at least, will be offered a plug-in hybrid variant.
The interior gets an equally upmarket look, benefiting chiefly from an available 15.0-inch infotainment display and an attendant 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster seemingly borrowed from Audi. VW also has installed the latest driver-assistance technologies, including a self-steering lane-keeping function, adaptive cruise control, and cross-traffic alert. Features include LED matrix headlights (for more on this tech, check out ) and an electromechanical anti-roll suspension system.
It’s all great stuff—and the Touareg itself looks delightful—but VW of America has repeatedly told us that the new SUV won’t be offered here. The last of the breed on these shores was the 2017 model, which was priced for the base model, a figure that was several hundred dollars more than the least costly Q7 that year, making it that much easier for buyers to say “I’ll have the Owdy, thanks.”