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2014 VW Touareg TDI Lux SUV is a nice value with some wow

2014 Touareg TDI Lux distinctive chrome door strips and roof racks
2014 Touareg TDI Lux distinctive chrome door strips and roof racksaustinautoboomer by permission

The 2014 Volkswagen Touareg is a nicely styled and well- engineered mid-size two-row SUV that offers a nice range of premium features plus a very good ride for a competitive price relative to its performance and amenities. There are five trim levels in the line with MSRP prices ranging from $43,995 for the entry level 3.6L VR6 gasoline engine version (only engine on this one) - through three trim levels using the VR6 gasoline engine or the optional 3.0L turbocharged TDI Clean Diesel V6 – then topping out with a supercharged 3.0L hybrid V6 with a MSRP of $64,170. All 2014 Touaregs use an eight-speed automatic transmission and the VW 4Motion all-wheel drive system to deliver power and performance to the road.

Refined VW horizontal front end is distinctive
Refined VW horizontal front end is distinctiveaustinautoboomer by permission

Recently, we spent a week driving a new 2014 VW Touareg TDI Lux Clean Diesel, the middle-of-the-line model with a delivered price of $55,885 – no optional packages and no accessories.

Our 2014 Touareg TDI Lux was powered by the 3.0L turbocharged V6 clean diesel engine which is improved over earlier versions. With changes and weighing in 55 pounds lighter than last year, it now produces 240 horsepower with 406 lb.-ft of torque peaking at 2,000 rpm.

The TDI diesel is mated to the standard eight-speed automatic transmission designed to use seventh and eighth gears as overdrives for fuel efficiency. The eight-speed transmission has a manual gear control feature with a Sport mode and a Dynamic Shift Program (DSP) - allowing a driver’s individual style to be reflected as it adjusts gearing shift points accordingly.

Our test Touareg TDI Lux powertrain is rated to deliver an EPA estimated 20/29 mpg City/Highway with an expected average of 23 mpg. The Touareg has a 26.4 gallon fuel tank which translates to nearly a 700 mile range on the highway.

The 2014 Touareg is also fitted out with the Volkswagen 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system. It uses a rear limited-slip Torsen differential to split the available torque 40 percent front and 60 percent rear for handling control for both on and off-road driving. Adding to it the variable-ratio power steering with its 2.6 turn, an upgraded all-independent suspension and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) – this Touareg TDI Lux was a very nice handle and a good drive around town and on the highway. It also has a 7.9-inch ground clearance to enable moderate off-road travel. We did not get it truly off-road during the week, but did get some runs down seriously rutted ranch trails with no ground clearance, traction or other problems leading to no concerns about the Touareg’s ability to handle more difficult off-road conditions.

Our 2014 Touareg TDI Lux came in a bold, yet refined, Night Blue Metallic that complemented its subtle (some have called it bland, but we would not go that far) exterior design. Starting at the front, the design clearly reflects Volkswagen with a distinctive horizontal design common to other current VW models. The grille sports dual chrome-faced strips that connect to housings that feature bright-white LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and Bi-Xenon HID headlights. The Halogen reflector fog lights feature low-speed corner-illumination that aids visibility in night time driving.

The 2014 Touareg body lines are enhanced by a raised hood that does give it a more muscular look from the front. That boldness quickly dissipates as the side body panel lines flow back along the non-distinctive side panels. The panels are accented by a bold chrome strip along the base of the doors and further enhanced by black painted window frames with chrome roof rack rails above that give Touareg its own distinctive look without a lot of clutter or noise.

At the rear, the simplicity and refinement of the design continues with its L-Design taillights, blacked out spoiler and unique triangle-shaped chrome exhaust tips. Each Touareg has a distinctive wheel set and size reflecting its trim line. Our TDI Lux was equipped with 19-inch, five-spoke ‘Everest’ rims with 265/50 R19 tires – completing the exterior look with - what we would call - a ‘roadworthy’ finish to the refined look of the Touareg.

Climbing into our 2014 Touareg TDI Lux tester, we were immediately impressed (wowed) with the luxurious Vienna leather seating surfaces in Saddle Brown and the very posh Burr Walnut wood trims with metallic accents. Adding to the wow factor of the luxurious look and interior ambiance is the awesome (59-inches long and 39-inches wide) power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof that floods the cabin with light from front to rear.

Interior features on our test car included dual zone climate control with filtration, electric parking brake, keyless access and push button start, heated front seats, glove box with cooling feature, two-piece adjustable front center armrest, four 12-volt power outlets, 12-way power-adjustable front seating, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats that recline with a sliding adjustment (6.3-inches) and rear center folding armrest. It also has a hatch area power release for the rear seating plus a behind-second-row cargo cover.

The 2014 Touareg is a good, but not exceptional, cargo hauler. The rear seats do fold down, but not quite flat which does restrict cargo placement a bit. Behind the second row seating, there is 32 cubic feet available. With the second row down, the space expands to 64 cubic feet. Total passenger volume is a respectable 103.6 cubic feet with very adequate headroom, legroom and shoulder room for bigger drivers and adult passenger’s front and rear.

Technology in our Touareg included a rear view camera and, in the center stack, a premium RNS 850 touchscreen navigation system with 8-inch color display, Bluetooth with audio streaming, Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod cable, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and SiriusXM Traffic, DVD/CD with MP3 playback capabilities and FM/AM stereo. The system also features eight speakers plus a 60GB hard drive with 18GB of space available to upload media.

Though we were pretty satisfied with the performance of our 2014 Touareg TDI Lux, we noted that Volkswagen does offer a couple of features in the next trim level (higher priced) Executive and Hybrid models that we think should be included on the Lux to add even more wow for the money.

One is a hands-free easy-open trunk feature, which opens the lift gate with a swipe of a foot under the rear bumper. The second is the Area View 360 degree exterior camera system. Using four individual cameras mounted on the car, the camera shows what is in front, behind and on the sides of the car plus has a top-down view of the vehicle that can be displayed on the screen. This would seriously enhance the off-road capability of the Touareg.

The Touareg Line-up for 2014 includes the Sport with a MSRP of $43,995 and powered by the 3.6-liter VR6 FSI gasoline engine only; Sport with Navigation added starts at $47,535 for the gasoline version and $51,035 for the TDI Clean Diesel; the Lux; R-Line (added for 2014) has a sportier look including 20-inch wheels and sport tuned suspension plus the R-Line distinctive accents. The R-Line MSRP is $54,115 and $57,615 for the gasoline and TDI respectively; the premium Executive is priced at $57,360 for the gasoline and $60,860 for the TDI model. A Hybrid is also available in the Touareg line for 2014. It carries and MSRP of $64,170. The Touareg Hybrid is available in very limited quantities and only at selected Volkswagen dealers.

You may also want to consider the Touareg X Special Edition which has been added to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Touareg. Based on the TDI Lux, it is priced at $56,170 and only 1,000 are going to be built. Touareg X includes some unique features like 19-inch 'Moab' aluminum-alloy wheels, Moonlight Blue Pearl paint, LED taillights, and Touareg X-specific badging on the outside. The interior is finished with premium Vienna leather seating surfaces in Black Anthracite and a complementing black headliner. Accents included Ebony Wood on the dashboard and doors that complement the piano black center console.