Volkswagen Touareg 2

The 2009 Volkswagen Touareg is available with two different engines, a 3.6L direct-injection V6 making 280 horsepower and a 4.2L V8 producing 310 horsepower. Later in the 2009 model year, a 221-horsepower, turbo direct-injection 3.0L diesel V6 will be available as well.

With the gas V6, the Touareg boasts decent acceleration, with a 0-to-60 time of 8.3 seconds. The V8 hits the mark in just 7.6 seconds, according to the Volkswagen.

The gas V6 and V8 are both mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, which allows manual gear selection, plus the 4XMOTION all-wheel-drive system, oriented for both on- or off-road conditions. Touaregs are truly designed for off-roading, and feature impressive approach and departure angles. It can also handle water up to 22.8 inches deep.

The Touareg's interior is luxurious but also utility-minded. Rugged leatherette upholstery is standard, and the rear seat is split 60/40 and folds forward nearly flat for expanded cargo capacity.

Four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability control, and an electronic differential lock are standard on the Touareg, along with engine braking assist (EBA), which helps maintain stability in steep situations. For steep off-road situations, hill descent control and hill climb assist, two other electronic aids, are standard.

New options this year include a hard-drive-based navigation system with Media Device Interface (MDI) and, as part of a Safety Package, lane-change assist and adaptive cruise control, which automatically keeps a safe following distance to other traffic on the road. Another notable option on both the V6 and V8 Touareg is a four-wheel air suspension system, which can help maintain an even load when towing or off-roading.

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