Dead, or Just Sleeping? Volkswagen of America Drops Touareg From 2018 Lineup

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

An 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.

The 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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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jul 13, 2017

    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.

  • Mchan1 Mchan1 on Jul 13, 2017

    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.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.