A sales dud receives dapper new duds.
Why It Matters: This one is a little tougher. Volkswagen has told us it won’t bring the new Touareg to the U.S., where the model has been an unequivocal sales flop nearly the entire time it’s been on offer since 2003. (The model line is on hiatus for 2018.) Even while crossover sales in general have gone gangbusters, the attractive, right-sized, and luxurious Volkswagen languished on dealer lots. A rising tide lifts all boats, as the saying goes, but the otherwise appealing Touareg was sunk by its pricing.
As it turns out, selling a VW SUV for Porsche or Audi money isn’t easy—particularly when Porsche and Audi sell re-bodied versions of that same SUV. The Cayenne and the Q7 both have shared underpinnings as well as some engines with the Touareg. In 2017, it actually cost more money to buy a new Touareg than a new Audi Q7. That’s flatly ridiculous. But the new Touareg theoretically could compete against the larger two-row crossover SUVs from mainstream automakers such as the Nissan Murano, the Ford Edge, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, if only Volkswagen could figure out how to sell it here for about $15,000 less than the outgoing model.
Platform: Selling this Touareg for much less than $50,000 might be extremely difficult, however. The new model, like its predecessors, shares its architecture with the Q7 and the Cayenne—this time the second-generation MLB platform. At least on visual assessment, the 2019 Touareg is every bit as attractive as its luxury-badged siblings. The styling overall is sharper and more expensive-looking than the previous model, and there is a surprising dose of Bentley Bentayga in the profile. Then again, that ultra-luxury SUV also rides on the MLB platform—as does the new Lamborghini Urus.
Powertrain: Four- and six-cylinder power is expected, with Volkswagen’s ubiquitous turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four starting out the lineup and either a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V-6 or the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 from the Audi Q7 powering higher-spec models. There will be a hybrid of the plug-in variety, and it’s expected to combine a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor embedded in the transmission, and a lithium-ion battery. While the U.S.-market Touareg hasn’t offered diesel power in a long time—and the rest of VW’s American lineup probably won’t ever offer it again thanks to the company’s emissions scandal—global markets will have the choice of four- or six-cylinder diesel engines.
Competition: Acura MDX, Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lexus RX350, Nissan Murano.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Never, and for too much money even if it did. In place of this two-row Touareg, the U.S. market is expected to receive a more affordably priced two-row version of the Atlas. Slotting between the compact Tiguan and the three-row Atlas, that new SUV will be built on the same Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly line as the Atlas, and its pricing should start at around $30,000.