Should I buy a Touareg V10 TDI or a Touareg V6?

… if my goals are to:

1. pollute less than my current Land Cruiser and spend less on gas

2. great off road capability: get a vehicle that will handle daily commute on several miles of steep, deeply rutted dirt roads that become quite slippery with rain (but this is San Diego, so only rains rarely:). Need high ground clearance because of protruding rocks.

3. have comfortable ride for my old bones (for ex my husband’s 4Runner rides like a wheelbarrow on the dirt road)

4. good handling when driving small country roads at relatively high speed (shhht!)

Some reports online of V10 users quote high twenties in gas consumption (diesel), but then again EPA rates it a “1”, worst mark, even though it is rated at 15/20 mpg (vs 12/15 for my LC which gets a 3/6 on EPA scale?). The V10 is also incredibly zippy and do love to drive fast… but it’s also 10K more than equivalent mileage/year V6.

Lastly: original Tom and Ray review cited reliability issues, what is consensus out there with newer models? Thanks!

I know the solution is a V6 TDI but at over $45K is above my budget. Recommendations out there?

Easy choice - neither. The v10 TDI is rare, and will require service by the dealer, always expensive. The Touareg reliability is ‘much worse than average’ overall according to Consumer Reports. In fact, they chose the Touareg as a ‘poster child’ for poor reliability at one point. So your experience with the Land Cruiser and 4Runner will not prepare you for the potential problems with the VW.

What year is your husband’s 4Runner? They’ve just come out with a new version, I bet it rides better now.

Chances are the V10 TDI pumps out just as much if not more CO2 than your Land Cruiser. They had to take if off the market in 2005 because it couldn’t meet U.S. emissions standards. It was brought back briefly a few years ago when they added a particulate filter, but again it failed to meet upcoming emissions standards, so it was removed from the engine lineup again. From a “green” perspective, the gas V6 is a better choice. If you want a “green” SUV consider a Lexus RX 400h.

As others haven mentioned, these vehicles are known primarily for being unreliable, and expensive to fix.

Lexus 400h will fall to pieces in the off road conditions described. It is a car based SUV.

It’s a 2007 4Runner. The handling on the road is also problematic for me, it very much drives like a truck, whereas even though the Land Cruiser is much heavier, it almost seems more “nimble”, certainly handles fast driving on curvy roads much better than the 4Runner.

The Touareg is a unibody SUV as well.

We looked at the new Toyota 4Runners and they have made them larger–they seem as large as the Toyota Sequouia. My wife didn’t it at all, but she loves her 2003 Toyota 4Runner. We find the 4Runner comfortable on road trips. I’ll have to admit, though, that we like the “truck like” feel of the 4Runner.

My vote goes for the V10 TDI.
It drives REALLY REALLY nice, and is quite frugal on fuel.

I concur however VW/Porsche/Audi designed this chassis for true off-road. It is extremely capable in these conditions. I have been in the true off road and it had no issues.

Toyota/Lexus did not design the Highlander/RX400h for anything but the road and very light off road at best.

Yes but even though it is not body on frame like the Land Cruiser, it has received all sorts of accolades for off road performance, including I think off road SUV of the year several times, which is really the main reason we started looking at it as an alternative to Toyota. It is supposed to be built to take the abuse off roading will dish out, as opposed to the Lexus, which is more like a luxury station wagon (as are most of the mid size SUVs from an offloading perspective). Higher ground clearance too, and air suspension that can lift the vehicle almost to 12" GC.

While the RX is not for the offroad, a Lexus GX (modified 4Runner) is. You might give it a look. Do not underestimate maintenance shock you will undergo switching from Toyota to a used VW.

Thanks for the link, that was helpful. This is really my conundrum in that vehicles that will withstand the pounding on our roads on a daily basis are either gas guzzlers (Land Cruiser, best handling by far), or uncomfortable, like pick-up trucks. The 4Runner is kind of at that intention, and my husband really likes his, but if you really enjoy driving, it’s sooo boring on the streets.

You are right on emissions, although it is somewhat confusing. The EPA website gives the V10 TDI its worst rating at 1 on a 10 point scale, with fas mileage of 15/20, while my Land Cruiser gets a 3/6 rating with gas mileage of 12/15. Guess the diesel fuel is considerably more polluting. So my gas bill would be lower but I would be polluting more.
On the unreliability I owned VW rabbits/golf in the past and found them very reliable, but maybe this model is different?

Yes, it’s different, it has many more options and systems. I owned a GTI for 12 years with almost no problems, but it’s a much simpler car.

Do you think the GX could take the use of off roaring on daily basis? I did not consider it because I thought it would drive like the 4Runner, but maybe I should?

I know… I test drove one yesterday and it has so much zip, and great handling. I love to drive fast (grew up in France where it’s a sport, along with chain-smoking:), and this is why I am really salivating over the V10 TDI, drives like a BMW, but a) that’s exactly the reason my husband thinks I should get a V6, in case I go too fast, and b) the pollution aspect really gives me pause.

It sounds like a GX might be worth a test drive, but it’d be no real change on the mpg side.

Maybe you should consider a newer V6 TDI. I have driven one, and it makes the 5,000Lb vehicle seem like it weighs nothing. 400 lb-ft torque at the low end, and rated at 24 mpg on the highway. These alse meet the latest epa requirments (use urea injection to address the nitrates issue).

Hmmm… so then do I just buy another Land Cruiser? This would be my third, and I really love the ride, just hate the gas mileage.

I would love to get a V6 TDI but they only came out in 2009 so they are out of my price range (in the high forties to fifties). Real choice is either V10 TDI or regular V6: what do you think? I assume I should shy away from V8 if I want to minimize gas consumption?