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2020 Volkswagen Touareg 190TDI review

VOLKSWAGEN HAS A winner in its new Touareg SUV. We’ve driven the top-shelf Launch Edition which comes with the full kit of gear (replaced by the Premium since launch time is over) and were thoroughly impressed that this cheapest of German premium SUVs could be so convincingly good. But what of the new cut-price entry-level model?

IN A NUTSHELL: VW’s competitive Touareg SUV drops a few pieces of bling to bring an equally impressive SUV in its own right, and which is even more price attractive at under $80,000.

THE GOOD: Smooth diesel turbo driveline, efficient fuel consumption, spacious cabin, great technology, good ride on standard springs.

THE BAD: Nice-to-haves are expensive, no seven-seat option.

VW Touareg 190TDI

VW Touareg 190TDI review

Joining the near six-figure Touareg Premium, the 190TDI entry-level is the more affordable, pared-back offering of the same car.

At just under $80,000 before on-road costs, it’s by far and away the cheapest German luxury SUV money can buy. While that might seem a bit unfair given the BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi rivals are usually considered a class above for ‘premiumness’ than Volkswagen, the Touareg LE already showed us that’s it’s just as good as those brand’s X5, GLE and Q7.

What does the VW Touareg 190TDI cost and what do you get?

Simpler presentation and equipment doesn’t necessarily equate to a less premium SUV in the 190TDI though, and it still reads as well equipped.

Outside, there’s less flare to trim elements, with body-coloured ascents and a similar cascading grille upfront, but there’s just enough chrome to standout. LED headlights and taillights illuminate upfront and use VW’s unique ‘click-clack’ effect at the back, which is simply an alternating lighting pattern to give some visual presence to those behind.

VW Touareg 190TDI light tail

Moving inside, the cabin is finished with nice materials and good technology. The infotainment screen measures 9.2-inches, which is easily large enough for using all of the inbuilt apps such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth for media, and navigation. There is no digital screen for the instrument cluster as standard, though one can be optioned on, along with an even larger infotainment display.

Convenience features include auto wipers and headlights, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and rear air vents for the second row.

Pricing for the VW Touareg 190TDI starts from $79,490 plus on-road costs.

What’s the VW Touareg 190TDI interior like?

Leather-wrapped seats sit in the middle of a capacious cabin allowing a wide armrest of room between the front passenger. The leather steering wheel is nice in the hands too, with a thin diameter that will suit many. As expected of such a large SUV the driving position is high, and view throughout the glasshouse is clear on most angles. But if not, there are parking sensors and a 360-degree birdseye view camera to help.

VW Touareg 190TDI interior leather

The finish of the dash is nicely executed with some simple and some classy finishes. It doesn’t feel overdone, and certainly not cheap. But you can option different trim elements for personalisation.

We found all seats to be comfortable and the adjustment in the front seats quite good for both small and tall frames.

How much space is there in the VW Touareg 190TDI?

Unfortunately, the Touareg is, for now, a five-seater only, which means it will be a miss for buyers requiring three rows. That’s a pit because the huge 810-litre boot shows that it would make a great competitor to the Q7, X5 and GLE which can be had with more pews.

However, as a five-seat SUV, the Touareg is a great choice for any size family. Room between seats is generous and babies and toddlers in the rear seat have a huge amount of room to kick legs. And those rear outer seats are Isofix compatible.

VW Touareg 190TDI rear seat

As mentioned, the boot is large, with both a wide and long loading space that’s great for a long road trip where you need a lot of gear. Fold those back seats down and it grows to 1800L.

What’s the VW Touareg 190TDI infotainment like?

At 9.2-inches wide the infotainment looks bright, big and crisp. It displays Apple CarPlay and Android Auto well, using one of two USB ports to connect those phones. And the charging rate is quick from both the front and rear USB ports.

VW Touareg 190TDI infotainment

Standard applications include Bluetooth connectivity for simple music streaming. Techies can pay to upgrade the screen to 15.0-inches wide and also replace the traditional analogue driver’s cluster for a screen. But for everyone else, the factory setup is great and saves $8000 from optioning the Technology pack.

What engine is in the VW Touareg 190TDI?

As a well-rounded package, it’s hard to pick one standout feature, but the smooth V6 turbo diesel engine upfront might be it. The 3.0L oiler produces 190kW at 4000rpm and 600Nm of torque at 2250rpm. All of the grunt goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels via VW’s own ‘4Motion’ AWD system.

What’s evident is that the engine has more power and torque than normally required in this class of vehicle, delivering enough to rate up to 3500kg braked towing capacity and 750 unbraked. We haven’t given it a real-world test towing yet but watch this space.

VW Touareg 190TDI engine diesel

Without a trailer, it gets going off the line quickly and pulls nicely up to redline. Overtaking at any legal speed is not an issue.

The sound from the engine is smooth and it’s a lovely match to the eight-speed automatic which can sit around 1000rpm on the highway.

How much fuel does the VW Touareg 190TDI consume? We managed 8.0L/100km driving both around town and on the highway, which isn’t too far off the manufacturer’s claimed 7.6L figure.

Is the VW Touareg 190TDI good to drive?

What keeps the 190TDI affordable is the lack of air suspension found in the Premium Touareg model, which irons out bumps very effectively. Still, this passive steel spring setup is good and doesn’t jostle around much on the rear with compliance over most rural roads, infamous for their poorly kept surfaces. That said, it’s not as good as the air suspension if a velvety ride is what you’re after.

VW Touareg 190TDI driving

Otherwise, steering and braking feels the same, which is a safe and predictable steering input and strong brakes even when pushing down a hill. It’s a cruisy SUV to drive and enjoys lapping up long highway kilometres.

The active safety aids are also good here, adaptive cruise control keeping a consistent distance with a measured slowdown in traffic, and the lane-keeping assist one of the more accurate and calmer systems available.

How safe is the VW Touareg 190TDI?

The VW Touareg 190TDI scored a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.

It comes equipped with a comprehensive list of safety aids include airbags, AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, automatic parking and parking sensors and cameras.

VW Touareg 190TDI highway

What are the VW Touareg 190TDI alternatives?

The chief rivals are the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. All three of those can be equipped with seven-seats and are every bit the luxury contender that the VW Touareg Premium is. Despite the price disparity between the VW 190TDI and others, this entry-level Touareg remains a convincing package.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the value?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?

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2020 VW Touareg 190TDI pricing and specs

Price From $74,490 Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 3.0L diesel V6 turbo Power 190kW at 4000rpm Torque 600Nm at 2250rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive four-wheel-drive Body 5539mm (l); 1875mm (w); 1857mm (h) Kerb weight 1501kg Seats 5 Spare Full-size spare

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1 Comment

  1. Stephen Stibbard
    February 8, 2020 at 5:16 pm — Reply

    At last a full size spare!

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae