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

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
dead or just sleeping volkswagen of america drops touareg from 2018 lineup

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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2 of 16 comments
  • 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.

  • Jeff S Some of us don't care either way we are not into this type of car. Most of these will be stored in garages waiting for their value to go up. As someone above noted this is an old body style which is retro 70s Challenger which after researching it came out in the 2008 MY which means a long run for a model that is in its 16th year. I have always liked these but if I bought one I would not spend this kind of money on one probably get the V-6 version and use it as a family car but then I am not into drag racing or muscle cars. For the type of car it is it has a decent rear seat and not too bad of a trunk. Most of us are not going to spend 100k for any vehicle at least currently so its not something most of us will buy and stick in a garage waiting for its value to increase. I am glad that these editions came out for those who can afford them and it keeps a little more color into what has become a very dull vehicle market but then with age I pick the dull appliance like reliable vehicle because that's what I need. Impressive car but not for me.
  • Jonathan The Germans. So organized they can appear disorganized. I agree with some others, classic names like Thunderbird, Imperial, Grand Prix, Ambassador etc. just have more appeal.
  • Bobbysirhan A friend had one when they first came out. He was CFO of some green California company and could charge the Volt at work. At home, the PHEV gave him an excuse to make his wife park her nicer car outdoors while the Volt get their condo's one-car garage. He liked the Volt, and he spent very little on energy during the 'first one's free!' era of EV ownership. Of course, the green company went bust soon after, and he wound up with a job that involved far more driving and ultimately the need for a more substantial car. I drove the Volt once after his wife had made a return trip to Los Angeles, depleting the battery. I don't know what a first gen Volt drives like with a charged battery, but it was really gutless with two adults, a yellow lab, and a dead battery. My other memory of it was that it had a really cramped back seat for a car that was about as large as a Civic. My friend who bought it liked it though, and that's not always been the case for GM vehicles.
  • MrIcky I think the Shakedown is more my speed of the last call editions- but this is impressive.
  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the live reveal last night, but after 15 minutes of jawing by MT+ personalities (and yes, I like Chris Jacobs and Alex Taylor), I turned it off.