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Remember When Volkswagen Sold a Midsize SUV With a V10?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2016

When you think of midsize SUVs, you probably think of boring old traditional family haulers. The Toyota Highlander. The Honda Pilot. The Ford Explorer. Fine vehicles, sure, but nothing the valet would ever park in front of a luxury hotel. Or a club. Or a Denny's.

Meanwhile, when you think of cars with V10 engines, you probably think of crazy performance models. The BMW M5. The Dodge Viper. The Lamborghini Gallardo. The Audi R8. The Lexus LFA. Also fine vehicles, but nothing you'd necessarily use for daily transportation.

Naturally, Volkswagen decided to combine them.

Yes, that's right: Volkswagen once made a midsize SUV with a V10 engine. It was called the Touareg V10 TDI. It had a turbodiesel V10, and it was sold right here in America from 2004 to 2008, except for 2005. Naturally, it was tremendously rare, because -- as you may have guessed -- there wasn't an enormous market for a $70,000 Volkswagen SUV with a larger engine than a Ferrari F430.

The result: These days, the Touareg V10 TDI is a rare sight, as there are just 10 examples on all of Autotrader. It's so rare that many Volkswagen dealers don't even know about it -- and those that do shudder every time one shows up for service, due to its complicated powertrain and propensity for pricey repairs.

But while the Touareg V10 TDI may be unusual, they do exist, and they're out there somewhere, easily distinguishable from a standard, plebian, V6-powered Touareg TDI with a nice, fat V10 TDI badge placed squarely on the tailgate.

And oh, was it ever cool. With just 310 horsepower, the Touareg V10 TDI actually had less power than the Touareg V8 of its day. But the V10 TDI made up for it with an unbelievable torque figure: 553 lb-ft, which is the exact same number offered by the high-performance Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG -- and not the E63 AMG of that era, but today's model, more than a decade later.

The thing had so much torque that when you got inside and pushed your foot down, you had the feeling that if you hooked up everything properly, and if you had the right tow hitch, and if you dialed up the correct setting, you could tow Delaware.

The Touareg V10 TDI had so much pulling power that it's the star of one of my all-time favorite YouTube videos, which has been removed and reuploaded so many times that it now appears to have been filmed with an alarm clock. It shows a completely stock Touareg V10 TDI facing off against a lifted, modified, heavy-duty Chevy Silverado in an old-school pulling contest, with only a tow strap between them. The Touareg wins easily.

You're unlikely to ever encounter a Touareg V10 TDI on the roads. But if you do, be sure to drive politely around it. Because it could tow your house into another ZIP code.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Remember When Volkswagen Sold a Midsize SUV With a V10? - Autotrader