VW Touareg 7L, the official car of the dubious chaps who have more tattoos than years of school, swords, and phone numbers that will instantly bring in a brigade of noir locals who will strip you like chicken.
The VW Touareg 7L appeared in 2002 as VW’s first effort to create a true SUV. The project was born in-vitro, with the help of VW, Porsche, and Audi. VW got the VW Touareg 7L which became a multi-purpose SUV and was the undisputed market leader for people you don’t want to deal with, as the Range Rover Sport didn’t hit the market until 2005. Porsche got the famous Cayenne and saved itself from bankruptcy, and Audi got the Q7, the official car of the 2008 crisis.
Times have changed and cars have changed. All the machos dressed in XXL Slim-Fit shirts from D&G stuck with the Range Rover Sport and the VW Touareg 7L remained an excellent family car. In fact, the VW Touareg 7L was and is such a great family car that its successor, the Touareg 7P rolled out of the factory gate as a family car with low nitpicking potential.
Is a 1st gen Touareg worth it in 2022?
As “my first SUV”, absolutely ok. It’s a relatively reliable car, with relatively civilized maintenance costs. However, you have to understand that an SUV of this size is not cheap to maintain by any means. Furthermore, you have to watch the history and condition of the car, because previous owners may have been part of the “Sound of Handcuffs” folklore ensemble and may have forgotten a victim in the boot.
VW Touareg 7L Engines
- 3.2 FSI V6 of 238 horsepower – An old, simple, and reliable engine. The only real issue is with the timing chain which wears out prematurely and needs to be replaced more often. Oh yes, it also has the “FSI” system which is not 100% LPG compatible. Otherwise, a fuel-efficient, tax-expensive and reliable engine. Very expensive, very reliable.
- 3.6 V6 of 280 horsepower – No notable issues with this antique, but with a tax of over 9000 and fuel consumption that easily passes 25 liters per hundred kilometers, does it really matter if a part falls off every now and then?
- 4.2 V8 with 310 and 350 horsepower – Marginally more powerful than the 3.6 engine, but much more expensive in maintenance, taxes, and consumption. An engine that is effectively not worth buying in the VW Touareg 7L, as long as the 3.6 V6 exists.
- 6.0 W12 of 450 horsepower – Legend has it that the 6.0 W12 Touaregs were sent straight to Saudi Arabia. Essentially it’s a Passat B5.5 W8 on steroids, and it’s good to know that there are still mad men running around in Germany too.
- 2.5 TDI R5 of 174 horsepower – This is not the 2.5 V6 from the Audi A4 B6, this is an inline 5-cylinder engine used in the VW Transporter. More specifically this engine is famous for its work on ambulances. With a timing gears system and a noise that would make Chacharon Macarron envious, this engine needs its water pump replaced every 100,000 km. Beware that if this engine is not maintained or if it has had a more questionable history than its previous owners, if the water pump is ignored, it can often lead to engine block cracking.
- 3.0 V6 of 225 and 240 horsepower – By far the most balanced engine for the VW Touareg 7L and by far the most popular. A reliable engine in its own right, but somewhat expensive to maintain. Because there is no “cheap” and “SUV” in the same sentence. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, if you have to replace the timing chains, we’re talking about 1000-2500 euros, depending on the engine code.
- 5.0 V10 TDI of 313 and 350 horsepower – It’s not about horsepower here as much as about the torque. The 313 horsepower version has “only” 750 Nm of torque, while the 350 horsepower version has 850 Nm. If you remember the commercial with the Touareg towing the plane it was a 5.0 V10 TDI. Essentially two 2.5 TDI R5 engines joined together, the main issue is in the fact that you won’t find mechanics to mess with something like this. Furthermore, to replace the timing chains you have to take the engine out. And for lots of other stuff. Good luck finding mechanics. And most parts come in double trouble.
VW Touareg 7L General Issues
- The manual transmission is more reliable, but do you really want a Touareg with a manual transmission? The Tiptronic gearbox needs help and regular oil changes, but it still seems like a car of this caliber and size deserves an automatic. Plus with a manual gearbox, it’s harder to hold the steering wheel in one hand and a sword in the other.
- Identical tires in size, wear, and the manufacturer is a universally valid tip for 4×4 cars, especially SUVs like the VW Touareg 7L which comes standard with a differential and lots of electronics. A lot of people complain that the front tires wear out faster than a club dancer in Turin, so the steering has to be checked constantly…
- The front differential is a known issue with the VW Touareg 7L. It’s not an “if” discussion, it’s a “when” issue.
- The air suspension is failing, specifically because of the plastic trims. You can switch to metal trims taken from the Cayenne. Usually, the issue occurs every 150.000 – 200.000 km. And the issues are not so serious because usually, it is not the cushions and the compressor (expensive parts) that fail, but the wiring harnesses.
- It’s very easy to drop clips or coins or small things into the gearshift lever and lock it. You’ll have to buy another lever so be careful. Anyway, it’s not like you know what a coin looks like, you only have Touareg.
- Just as most VW Touareg 7L owners take other traffic participants lightly as peasants, so the bearings will make fun of you. A part that will fail anyway, so many owners replace the bearings as if it were a regular maintenance operation.
VW Touareg 7L Verdict
The fact that there are still first-generation Touaregs on the streets is testament enough to their reliability. Not to mention those that haul RVs and platforms and boats and other Touaregs. It’s an excellent family car and it’s an excellent car for my “first SUV”. Be careful though with the cost and don’t go by the purchase price.
Which engine do I recommend? If you want the Touareg, but don’t have the money for the Touareg, then 2.5 TDI linked to a manual gearbox and spring suspension. If you want the best suited Touareg experience, then necessarily 3.0 TDI, automatic gearbox, and air suspension.