Skip to main content

If you ever find yourself thinking that a V8 just isn’t enough for an SUV, you wouldn’t be alone. Volkswagen had the same thought two decades ago – and made one of the most bizarre SUVs of the modern era as a result with the Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI.

The diesel V10 Touareg made heaps of power

A 2004 Volkswagen Touareg on the assembly line from the era when VW produced a diesel V10 version of the SUV.
2004 Volkswagen Touareg | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Volkswagen introduced the world to the diesel 10-cylinder Touareg in 2002 and brought it to the U.S. in 2004. It was singular among SUVs of the time, offering a 5.0-liter diesel-powered V10 engine making no less than 310 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. 

On the outside, the Touareg TDI V10 looked much like any other European SUV. Sleek, minimalist lines and a handsome, well-appointed cabin helped the Touareg blend into the mid-2000s automotive landscape. Yet, its performance was anything but typical. 

According to Autoblog’s review of the 2005 model year, the V10 Touareg could tow more than 7,700 pounds. It also came with all-wheel drive and 6.3 inches of ground clearance, so off-roading wasn’t strictly out of the picture. It’s not exactly what you’d expect from a Volkswagen SUV in the aughts.

The Volkswagen Touareg TDI V10 was a unique SUV of the aughts

The diesel V10 Touareg was a strange vehicle, blending tasteful euro styling with a powertrain Americans would expect to find in a heavy-duty pickup. And it wasn’t alone – Volkswagen spent the 2000s pumping out weird cars like the W12 Phaeton and W8 Passat. They were vehicles of exceptional performance and comfort, but they had reputations for being heinously complex and challenging to maintain. 

The V10 Touareg, in particular, arrived when Volkswagen and other European manufacturers emphasized diesel as an economical alternative to gasoline. This was well before the notorious “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal caused VW to ditch diesel altogether. In the 2000s, the TDI brand was going strong – and the Touareg TDI V10 was the flagship. 

Was the 10-cylinder Touareg reliable?

Unfortunately, the Touareg TDI V10 has a reputation for poor reliability and costly repairs. 

It doesn’t take much time on forums to find horror stories of 10-cylinder Touaregs needing highly specialized, expensive repairs quite often. Reddit’s r/volkswagen forum users report instances of Touareg V10 owners spending thousands of dollars on repairs before their SUVs even hit 50,000 miles. 

According to owners, most repairs require a certified Volkswagen technician, bumping the price from the start. The 10-cylinder Touareg is also a precision-engineered SUV with components that fit together tightly and have specific operating thresholds. It all comes together to make an SUV that’s a bit of a mess to maintain.

Many of us will likely chalk the V10 Touareg up to another case of forbidden automotive fruit. It’s undeniably cool – who doesn’t want a diesel V10 euro SUV? However, most of us would likely find more satisfaction in the reliability of something like a Toyota 4Runner

Still, we can smile when the occasional Touareg TDI V10 passes by.  


5 Cheapest Cars With a V10 Engine