By on July 12, 2017

Volkswagen Slovakia Werk Bratislava - Image: VolkswagenAn inconsequential 1,630 copies of the Volkswagen Touareg were sold in the United States during the first half of 2017.

It’s therefore unlikely you’ll notice the Volkswagen luxury SUV’s absence now that Volkswagen has decided to eliminate the Touareg from its 2018 U.S. lineup.

Initially reported by Motor Trend yesterday, Volkswagen’s decision to discontinue the Touareg was confirmed to TTAC by Volkswagen of America spokesperson Jessica Anderson today. “Our focus for the 2018 model year is the all-new Atlas and redesigned Tiguan.”

So is the Touareg done, or just done for now? Volkswagen of America won’t say.

The Touareg’s discontinuation wouldn’t be surprising at all if it weren’t for the fact that utility vehicles of every stripe are all the rage these days.

From the Honda HR-V, a Mexican-built Fit that fails in numerous areas producing a record quarter between April and June, to the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class surging toward a record year of more than 36,000 sales, Americans want SUVs and crossovers. More than 40 percent of U.S. car buyers are now not car buyers at all — they’re SUV/CUV buyers.

But that doesn’t mean automakers are incapable of introducing failed concepts. The Acura ZDX generated only 6,118 U.S. sales during its four-model-year run, failing because of questionable design, limited practicality, and Acura’s pricing hubris. The Kia Borrego was a poorly timed full-size SUV — fewer than 23,000 were sold between 2008 and 2011. The Toyota FJ Cruiser was in demand at first, but sales tumbled by three-quarters between its first-year peak and 2014. Then there’s the Jeep Patriot, which died simply because it was an unnecessary fraternal twin of the Jeep Compass.2017 Volkswagen Touareg interior - Image: VolkswagenThe Volkswagen Touareg was never a hit in the United States, but it didn’t begin as an abject failure. Nearly 28,000 Touaregs were sold in the United States in 2004, the Touareg’s first full year of U.S. availability.

But the decline was instant and harsh. Touareg volume dropped in five consecutive years, plunging 84 percent between 2004 and 2009. The second-generation Touareg brought about a measure of recovery, but even in 2012 — still the best year since 2005 — only 10,553 Touaregs were sold in America. By 2016, U.S. Touareg sales were back down below 5,000 units. Touareg volume is, was, on track to fall to little more than 3,000 units in 2017.

Audi sold more than 30,000 copies of the Q7 in 2016. Porsche USA averages more than 16,000 annual Cayenne sales.

Why has the Touareg proven so uncommon for so long, whether offered with a V10 diesel or a gas-powered V8 or 2017’s 3.6-liter V6 or any other powerplant?

Its current base price is $50,405. ‘Nuff said.

An all-new third-generation Volkswagen Touareg is due in 2019, but will the same problems persist if the Touareg were to make its way back across the Atlantic? It’s not as though Volkswagen can easily position the Touareg on top of the large and affordable Atlas.

But if Volkswagen of America wants to have another shot at the premium SUV market, there will be a third Touareg in the global Volkswagen Group portfolio on which the U.S. division can call.

Volkswagen’s Anderson could not “provide details on anything but model year 2018 right now.”

If Volkswagen Canada’s feelings on the Touareg are anything to go by, though, the Touareg certainly seems to be done in North America, and not just for now. “There will be a new Touareg that will be showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year,” Volkswagen Canada spokesperson Thomas Tetzlaff says, “however, that will not be offered here, as we have elected to dedicate our resources to the all-new Atlas.”

According to Tetzlaff, Volkswagen believes the Atlas is better suited to the Canadian market.

In just two months, Volkswagen of America has already sold 4,023 copies of the admittedly less costly Atlas, inventory of which is still ramping up. Volkswagen dealers haven’t produced that many Touareg sales in the last 13 months.

The second-generation $26,245 Volkswagen Tiguan arrives with three-row availability this summer. Volkswagen will, at least for a time, keep the old Tiguan in its lineup as the Tiguan Limited.

[Images: Volkswagen]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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16 Comments on “Dead, or Just Sleeping? Volkswagen of America Drops Touareg From 2018 Lineup...”

  • avatar

    I’m not sure why VW played in this market – or any other “premium” market – to begin with. There’s no way I’d buy one of these over an Audi.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I hear, it tows more and handles better off-road than the Audi (and Cayenne). For this reason, I think it would have done much better priced against the 4Runner.

  • avatar

    Premium Volkswagens just don’t fit the US public. The Touareg does reasonably well on its home turf, where it’s perceived as a sort of discount Cayenne.

    • 0 avatar

      The thing is, the European market is more of a “dash-stroker” market, hence – Hyundai, Toyota and others offering Euro-oriented models which are nicer than the equivalent NA models.

      American buyers are very value-oriented (whether it be autos, smart phones, etc.) which is why the VW models which haven’t been “dumbed-down” for the US market have fared poorly.

      Mazda is trying to hit that “near-premium” market which works fine in Australia, but is a mistake for the US market.

    • 0 avatar

      Here in the US, I’ve always perceived the Tiguan is an overpriced CR-V, without the redeeming qualities…

      Or is it the Taureg that’s overpriced? I never could keep those straight, even back when I was a VW fan (before I owned a VW out-of-warranty).

  • avatar

    I actually saw an Atlas on the road the other day, not bad looking. With the Atlas in existence, if people want a premium large SUV from VW they can buy a Cayenne or a Q7.

    The only reason to buy a Toe-rag is the V10 TDI. Looks like used examples are in the 10-25K range now. Too bad they apparently eat tires and brakes.

  • avatar

    And I thought they stopped selling it a couple years ago.

  • avatar

    VW could have improved Touareg sales just by renaming the newer version with something normal-sounding, such as Atlas.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. I *think* it was supposed to be called Colorado originally, but GM had the trademark on it or something like that (don’t quote me on it). I honestly believe it would have sold much better if it was called Colorado (or something else normal, like you said.)

      I also think they should have kept “Teramont” name for the Atlas in the U.S. Teramont sounds like the name of an estate or something to me; more upscale and less intense than Atlas, which to me should be a proper honking truck (like the Ford concept). It could have at least had a premium-sounding name even if the product itself is dumbed down for the U.S. Oh well…

  • avatar

    yeah, selling a car named the Do-Rag is tough.

  • avatar

    The biggest problem with the Touareg, aside from the badge, was VW’s terrible leases. The majority of luxury cars are leased, and few in that market are willing to pay $200-300 more per month for the privilege of driving a VW over the equivalent X5, Q7, or GLE.

    • 0 avatar

      They have to charge this amount because the value of the used ones is so low. Desirability = high resale= low lease payments. If you want to drive an unpopular model, you have to pay for it. If it’s fabulous, great it’s worth it. If you can make do with a cheaper model, or get a better model for the same price….no Touregs move off the lot.

      • 0 avatar

        On the other hand, the used/CPO ones are a bargain, I just picked one up. 2014 CPO w/13k miles just came off lease, for something like 54% MSRP when it was new. Sad that it’s now an orphaned badge, but hardly matters.

    • 0 avatar

      Same issue as the Phaeton. A neighbor had one, and now drives a Mercedes CLS550. He recounts the car as being a service issue, compounded by the local VW shop, who is more geared toward the Jetta S. The Toureg is actually correctly sized … for Europe, where ever there it is a very big and thirsty car.

      I saw an Atlas recently, and it is the car VW needed in 2010. Despite being late, it is a worthy entry to the market, provided VW doesn’t blow it some other way.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Should have said VW *quietly* drops the Toureg, to make it sound sneaky or shameful, like when Tesla “quietly” dropped the 60 kWh Model S.

  • avatar

    The Toureg is overpriced and too big. It’s priced too near the Audi version.

    The older Tiguan was OK but relatively cramped and Overpriced while providing so little compared to the Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4 or the Nissan Rogue.

    The Tiguan (2018+) model appears to be a better CUV as VW supposedly upgraded the interior so it doesn’t look as cheap as the previous models and increased the size (interior/exterior). It looks good but conservative in appearance in the media reports but let’s see if it’s Overpriced when it debuts.

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