The Volkswagen Touareg, a mid-size luxury SUV, was introduced in the early 2000s as a collaborative effort between Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen (with Audi releasing the Q7, and Porsche the Cayenne)
Positioned as a rugged yet sophisticated vehicle – the most “off road-y” of the shared platform stablemates, the Touareg brought Volkswagen into the premium SUV segment.
While the first-generation Touareg (2002-2010) boasted impressive performance, sophisticated features for the time, and high-quality interiors, not every model year was a home run.
Being an ageing, luxury European car, if you’re thinking about buying a first-generation Volkswagen Touareg it’s worth understanding what are the best years to buy and the worst years to avoid.
Let’s delve into the best and worst years for the first-generation Volkswagen Touareg.
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Buying a “best year” Touareg (or any vehicle for that matter) is no guarantee that you’ll enjoy a trouble-free ownership experience. Conversely, a “worst year” car might be very reliable.
This article serves to act as a general guide as to the best and worst years for the Touareg, just to give you an idea of common problems and pain points.
As always, it’s more important to buy on condition and service history than seeking or avoiding any particular year. Lucky for you, we have a comprehensive VW Touareg buyer’s guide that you can read for more information on how to inspect and purchase one of these capable luxury SUVs.
VW Touareg 1st Generation: Best Years
- 2008/9: By 2008, the Touareg had undergone various refinements, addressing many of the issues found in its earlier years.
- 2007: This was the year Volkswagen introduced the mighty V10 TDI variant in certain markets. Offering staggering torque and performance, this diesel model was an engineering marvel. The 2007 Touareg also saw improvements in reliability and fewer complaints regarding electrical problems which plagued earlier models. 2007 was also the first year of the facelifted generation one Touareg (easily distinguishable by the silver front grill surround) which is typically regarded has being superior in just about every way to the pre-facelift car. The 3.6 V6 engine, which became the new ‘base spec’ petrol option, is much better than the 3.2 V6 from the earlier cars and is well worth seeking out.
VW Touareg 1st Generation: Worst Years
- 2004: Early adopters of the Touareg in 2004 faced numerous issues, particularly with the car’s electronics and drivetrain. Owners frequently reported problems with the electrical system, including malfunctioning indicators and unpredictable behavior from the infotainment system. In addition, some users complained of premature brake wear and drivetrain issues. It was clear that while the Touareg had promise, Volkswagen still had some wrinkles to iron out.
- 2005: Although Volkswagen attempted to address some of the concerns from the previous year, the 2005 model still had a high number of reported issues. Electrical problems remained prevalent, and new complaints arose about the air suspension system. This was a disappointing trend for a luxury SUV of its stature.
- 2006: This year tended to have fewer electrical issues than 04/05 examples but seems to be over-represented in terms of fuel pump failures (primarily on petrol engine vehicles, particularly the 3.2 V6 that is shared with the Golf R32). In fact, my own 2006 Touareg has been rather unreliable having suffered everything from a steering angle sensor failure to the dreaded fuel pump failure.
- 2010: While not necessarily a ‘best’ year, it’s worth noting the 2010 model. As the final year of the first-generation, most of the kinks had been worked out by this point. The 2010 Touareg was generally well-received, with improved reliability and fewer complaints from owners. It served as a strong conclusion to the first generation and paved the way for the revamped second-generation Touareg. Although the second generation Touareg was a big step up in terms of luxury, the first generation car is typically seen as being the more rugged cand capable off-roader.
The first-generation Volkswagen Touareg was a bold move by the German automaker into the luxury SUV segment. While its introduction was marred by issues, especially in the 2004 and 2005 models, Volkswagen’s commitment to refining the vehicle was evident in the subsequent years. Like many pioneering ventures, the Touareg experienced growing pains, but by the end of its first generation, it had solidified its position as a reputable and compelling option for those seeking a blend of luxury, performance, and ruggedness.