This Year From Volkswagen

By: James Russell

Literally translated as "free folk", Touareg, the VW model for 2007, is the name of a nomadic North African tribe known historically to be feisty and aggressive. It's also a remarkably competent full-size sport-utility vehicle from Volkswagen.

Touareg is similar to the Porsche Cayenne (shown in updated form at the Detroit auto show) and the new Audi Q7. They share platform and other components.

In the power seat controller is an easily-reached, smooth-operating, manual release on the right side of the seat base.

With its market price of $37,990, its standard features include halogen headlights, power glass sunroof, leatherette interior, 17-inch alloy wheels with Pirelli tires, rain-sensing wipers, premium sound system with 11 speakers and a six-CD changer in the rear, leather steering wheel with lots of controls and functions, halogen fog lights integrated into the lower bumper, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, self-dimming rear view mirror, 8-way manual adjusting front seats, adjustable steering wheel, automatic headlights, wood interior accents, and power heated outside mirrors.

The rear seats fold with a 60/40 formula. The release is a little handle at the top of each side, but unlike most it's a mechanism requiring a vertical pull. A respectable 71-cu-ft of cargo space is available with rear seats folded. It still has 31-cu-ft with the seats in passenger-carrying position.

Tow clocks are found on the interior. One is below the tach on the left side of the instrument cluster. The other is in the ceiling panel above the windshield.

Although adjusting the driver's seat need to take the strength of an athlete to manage, the forward/back control is smooth and easy.

Top speed is electronically limited to 130-mph. The 4.2-liter V6 generates 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque but it has a lot of weight to move, 5,168 pounds to be precise. Touareg is available with both a 350-hp V8 engine and a V10 turbo-diesel with more than 550 lb-ft of torque. Fuel capacity is 26.4 US gallons. Premium fuel is recommended but not required.

Its towing capacity is 7716 pounds.

Standard with all Touaregs is the trusty and tough 4xMotion permanent 4-wheel-drive system that, with the optional rear-lock differential, will allow 100% of the power to go to one wheel if necessary to push off a treacherous rock or hard place. The six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission has a manual shift mode, but shifts are pretty slow compared to the new DSG units in the smaller V-dubs. In addition to all this technology Touareg comes with all the chassis and handling dynamic systems that are optional on a lot of up-scale cars: ABS, Anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock, electronic stabilization program with engine brake assist, hill decent assist and hill climb assist. Volkswagen's warranty is 4-years/50,000-miles, 5-years/60,000-miles on the power train and 12-years on rust-through.

While it would appear that only three parts-two headlights and a grille-have been changed to freshen the Touareg for 2007, Volkswagen clams that they've added more than 2300 redesigned parts, including the .

The 2007 Touareg gets some software upgrades, too. One is the Volkswagen's "ABSplus," a traction-control program that shortens braking by as much as 20 percent on soft dirt or sand surfaces. Other features include the new adaptive-cruise-control system, which capable of bringing the truck to a full stop automatically; "side scan" blind spot-indicators that make highway driving safer; and, a ten-speaker Dynaudio stereo for entertainment purposes.

Touareg version 2.0 will on sale in November this year.

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