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Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2023 review

Dylan Campbell

Amazing for touring and towing, the Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI is one of our favourite SUVs – a cut-price Audi, and surely as good as base models get

Good points

  • Beautiful turbodiesel V6 powertrain
  • Lovely, Audi-like urban manners
  • Impressive efficiency and range
  • Budget-prestige value proposition
  • 3500kg braked towing capacity
  • Great big boot

Needs work

  • Only seats five
  • Small Apple CarPlay display
  • Lack of HVAC hard buttons/dials
  • Expensive to service
  • No full-size spare wheel
  • No standard reverse AEB

Volkswagen’s Touareg offers Audi-like engineering for a relatively discount price – even if it does look a bit short on equipment compared to halo grades of large SUV models from challenger brands, such as the Mazda CX-90.

The current, third-generation Touareg entered production in 2018, and is built on the same MLB Evo platform that underpins an entire family of Volkswagen Group SUVs such as the Audi Q7 and Q8, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 front

In a sense, it’s the cheapest ticket to this very highly-rated SUV architecture, one the Volkswagen Group would have spent a fortune on.

In Australia, the five-seat Touareg competes in the large SUV segment above $70,000, where the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Land Rover Defender, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz GLE are the best-sellers.

Perhaps indirectly given its broad mission statement and price, it also competes against the top-spec grades of models such as the Ford Everest, Toyota Prado and aforementioned Mazda.

The $89,240 170TDI is the base grade in a current three-tier line-up, the $108,240 210TDI Elegance the next variant up before you get to the range-topping $117,540 210TDI R-Line.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 rear 3/4

Today we’re testing the 170TDI, we’ve reviewed the 210TDI R-Line previously.

A facelifted Touareg is due in Australia early 2024, sporting Volkswagen’s new corporate front and rear styling, and a modestly updated interior along with a more sporting ‘R’ variant, packing a plug-in hybrid powertrain making 340kW/700Nm.

The Touareg as we currently know it is expected to be replaced entirely by an all-new, electric SUV in the coming years.

What are the Touareg 170TDI’s features and options for the price?

The Touareg 170TDI has a base price of $89,240 before on-road costs, although our test car came with $10,800 of options for an as-tested total of $100,040.

For that, you get a five-seat, large SUV with a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 producing 170kW and 500Nm, mated to an eight-speed torque converter automatic, and all-wheel-drive.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 interior

Standard equipment highlights include:

  • 19-inch alloy wheels (210TDI gets 20s)
  • 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Satellite navigation
  • Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Wireless phone charger
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument display
  • Electric tailgate
  • Leather-appointed upholstery
  • Leather steering wheel and shift lever
  • Electrically adjustable front seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • White paint (all other paints are cost-options)

The giant, 15.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen (as fitted to our test car) comes with the optional Innovision Package.

At $8600, the package also includes digital radio (something that should really be standard), a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, head-up display, a volume scroll wheel on the centre console and additional ambient interior lighting.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 screen

Whether or not you should shell out the $8600 is entirely subjective.

You should, if you’re the kind of person who has a phone so large it could pass as a small tablet, you have an enormous flat-screen TV in your living room, and you’d be delighted to find a large screen on the back of the seat in front of you on a flight somewhere.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 front close

If you’re still rocking the iPhone 8 and prefer to handwrite your to-do lists, save yourself the cash.

To get the really good stuff (such as air suspension, all-wheel steering and active anti-roll bars) you need to stump up for the 210TDI R-Line.

How does the Touareg 170TDI drive?

The Touareg 170TDI drives beautifully, its turbo-diesel powertrain and light steering making it an effortless urban companion. There’s something about a prestige vehicle with a diesel powertrain, too – a bit iron fist, velvet glove.

The Touareg is a delight around town, with great visibility, high levels of refinement and without feeling too large.

Even though the base 170TDI rides on steel springs (versus the air suspension of the 210TDI) it still rides nicely and has plenty of comfort, no doubt helped by the standard 60-profile, 19-inch tyres.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 driving

We love the abundance of grunt. With 170kW/500Nm on offer, if you sink your right foot you’ll find no shortage of acceleration or overtaking ability.

Volkswagen claims the Touareg will do 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds, which is as quick as some hot hatches from yesteryear.

The eight-speed torque converter auto is also refined and smooth, contributing to what is a luxuriously engineered powertrain. No jerky or snatchy dual-clutch shenanigans here.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 Dylan driving

The Touareg 170TDI feels built for highway cruising with a rock-solid stability, maturity and comfort that would see 1000km simply melt away.

A drive from Sydney to Melbourne in the Touareg 170TDI would feel like a drive from Sydney to Canberra in most other vehicles. A very polished suite of advanced driver assistance systems also helps in this regard.

Dynamically, the 170TDI relishes being pushed hard, and is even fun for an SUV – up until the point that the 255-section Bridgestone Alenza tyres can no longer deal with the 2087kg tare weight, a point that arrives fairly early. It is a passenger SUV, after all.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 driving 3

Explore the 170TDI dynamically and you’ll become acquainted with the ESC system, whose strategy of keeping the 170TDI on an even keel involves stabbing suddenly at the brakes, mid-corner.

While it does its job, it’s not particularly pleasant. Ignoring that, however, the 170TDI has outstanding dynamics – much better than it needs to be.

What is the Touareg 170TDI’s interior and tech like?

The Touareg’s interior is exquisitely built with plenty of space and a budget-luxe vibe, while the huge screens of the optional Innovision Package lend it a high-tech feel.

It’s a lovely place to be, quiet and with a subtle, not-trying-too-hard sophistication you’ll struggle to find in any non-German-engineered vehicle.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 front seats
Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 screen 2

We love the huge, 15.0-inch optional central infotainment touchscreen – especially the map view with the native satellite navigation, almost the digital equivalent of having a giant, unfolded, illuminated map on the dashboard.

It’s a pity, then, that the (wired) Apple CarPlay can only be offered in a compressed view, filling about half the screen. We didn’t get the chance to try the Android Auto.

One thing we don’t love is the lack of air-conditioning buttons and dials. Not long ago, Volkswagen was a leader for button tactility, meaning you’d be changing the temperature simply to feel the satisfying click of a dial.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 steering wheel buttons

That’s all gone; now you tap at a bit of screen instead. With no air-conditioning controls beneath the centre screen to offer illumination and interest, it also means the Touareg’s centre stack is unusually dark at night.

Volkswagen’s haptic steering wheel controls are also inferior to plain, old buttons – if you ask us.

The second row has plenty of space – even if it’s a bit basic, with no tri-zone air-conditioning or heated or ventilated seats. There are two air-vents with manual flow control, while there are two sets of ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats, and three top tethers.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 back seats
Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 rear air vents

Pleasingly, the 170TDI has built-in rear window blinds – a must-have if you’re putting little kids in the back.

Unlike many other large SUVs, the Touareg can only seat five (rather than seven). That does mean it has an especially large boot, 810 litres with the sliding second row at its forward-most position.

The rear seats also split 40/20/40 (compared to the more common 60/40) expanding usability. There’s also a 12-volt outlet in the boot.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 boot

The standard 170TDI has a space-saver spare wheel, and optioning the Sound & Comfort Package shrinks that to an inflating space-saver.

Either way, this is a bit of a black mark for touring confidence, especially for such a large vehicle. Many other large SUVs package a full-size spare wheel in addition to a third row.

Is the Touareg 170TDI a safe car?

The current generation Touareg is a very safe SUV, scoring five stars in local ANCAP crash-testing – although that was in 2018, when it was easier to score five stars than it is now.

The list of standard safety features includes:

  • Dual front and side airbags, rear side airbags, front-and-rear curtain airbags
  • AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Lane keeping and lane following
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind spot warning and collision avoidance
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Driver attention warning system
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Reversing camera

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 driving 2

Reverse AEB is only available as part of an option package, which is disappointing for such an expensive vehicle. It should be standard. 

There’s also no front-centre airbag, somewhat betraying the age of the Touareg as this particular safety feature becomes more commonplace. 

The Touareg’s active safety systems, such as the lane keeping, work well and unobtrusively.

What are the Touareg 170TDI’s ownership costs?

The Touareg is as expensive to service as an Audi, but offsets that somewhat by being very efficient.

For servicing, a five-year prepaid Care Plan is $3200, which is $10 more than the Audi Q7 with the same powertrain. The Volkswagen should be cheaper.

Fortunately, its as-tested fuel consumption of 7.6L/100km is mighty impressive for such a large vehicle. Volkswagen claims 6.3L/100km is possible on the freeway, although that’s according to the ADR81/02 fuel efficiency standard which isn’t the most accurate.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 engine

If you believe it, though, the Touareg’s 90-litre fuel tank grants it a theoretical maximum highway range exceeding 1400km – which is incredible.

Our test vehicle was boasting 1200km of range when we first got in, which almost had us tapping the screen with our finger in disbelief. There are few passenger vehicles on the Australian market that would have more range.

Volkswagen’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty is industry-standard.

The honest verdict on the Touareg 170TDI

The Touareg 170TDI is superb, offering a cut-price entry ticket to one of the Volkswagen Group’s best SUV platforms, as well as a world-class turbo-diesel powertrain. Often, it just felt like we were driving around in an Audi, and in a sense it’s like a Q7 45 TDI – with a $9000 discount.

That’s ignoring that the Audi, at $108,469 (before on-roads), comes with the more aspirational badge, standard air suspension, 360-degree parking camera and seven seats.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 driving 3 rear

On the other end of the scale, the Touareg 170TDI, being a base model, can also look a bit skinny on standard equipment compared to the top-spec grades of vehicles like the Everest Platinum, Mazda CX-90 Azami and Toyota Prado Kakadu – which all cost about the same, sometimes thousands of dollars less.

For example, for $98,320 (before on-road costs) the Mazda CX-90 D50e Azami makes the Touareg 170TDI look almost sparse. For $98,320 (before on-road costs), you can get the turbodiesel, 187kW/550Nm Mazda with the opulent, $5000 white Nappa leather Takumi Package.

You also get a panoramic sunroof, 21-inch wheels, tri-zone climate control, heated steering wheel and second-row captain’s chairs, making for one very nice SUV.

Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI 2024 front 3/4

Where the Mazda falls short of the Volkswagen is not just engineering depth but also towing.

The Touareg 170TDI’s 3500kg braked maximum towing capacity is as good as it gets this side of a Chevrolet Silverado, and 500Nm from just 1750rpm means you might just forget there’s something on the back.

It’s no surprise the Touareg was the outright winner of our Towing and Touring SUV Megatest, outpacing large SUV heavy hitters such as the Everest and Prado – making it one of our favourite SUVs on-sale right now.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2967 cc
170kW at 4000rpm
500Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
90 litres
6.8L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
1323km (claimed)
All Wheel Drive
4878 mm
1984 mm
1717 mm
Unoccupied weight
2087 kg

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