The Best of the Best 2003: Sport-Utility Vehicles - Volkswagen Touareg

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Being in the Volkswagen Touareg is like relaxing in your house: Everything is exactly how and where you want it. Switches are aligned perfectly with your hand. Electronic displays and chrome-rimmed dials provide no more or no less information than necessary. Seating position and visibility are ideal. The cabin is a masterpiece that grows more comfortable with each passing mile.

The $40,000 Touareg (pronounced tour-egg and named after a tribe of Saharan nomads) is a performance SUV as well. Discerning drivers should opt for the V-10 TDI, which includes air suspension and a mighty 5.0-liter diesel engine. The TDI, which boasts 313 hp and 553 ft lbs of torque, has enough grunt to tow a tank and enough shove to give its sister SUV, the Porsche Cayenne S (Volkswagen and Porsche teamed up to build their respective machines), a decent run for the money.

Volkswagen, www.vw.com

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