Most automotive critics adore the Touareg, but my opinion hasn’t changed all that much from the 2004 to 2005 model year. Among the changes for 2005, the sport utility/sport wagon is sold with choice of 3 engines: V6, V8 and V10 diesel with two-turbochargers. The V6, which this reviewer tested for more than 575 miles, gains 20 horsepower (now 240 horsepower) and that certainly gives the vehicle extra pep. There are also some new, worthwhile optional equipment choices, like OnStar. And for drivers who encounter by choice or by circumstance unpredictable terrain, Touareg’s six selectable road heights – ranging 6.3-inches to 11.8-inches – via the optional four-corner air suspension is a pleasurable and most welcome capability.

There are unwelcome features, too. The interior screams with an abundance of buttons and indicator lights that are simply too complex to figure out without reading (and re-reading) the owner’s manual. That overpowering feeling of gizmos run amok – more so when the vehicle is equipped with the navigation system – essentially means that setting the heat or choosing a radio station requires undivided attention. The seats are another sore spot, causing tail-burn and bun-burn after a few minutes. On a wrap-up note, Touareg has mile per gallon estimates of 16 city/21 highway. MSRP is $37,140.