Arguably the most underappreciated premium mid-size crossover in showrooms today is the Volkswagen Touareg — blame its oversized round badge. Most often seen on the nose of an entry-level Golf, Beetle or Jetta, the “VW within a circle” represents a brand that has struggled for years to convince the North American car buyer that its flagship vehicles can compete on the same playing field as rival offerings, in this case, the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE (formerly known as the M-Class), and Volvo XC90.
Determined to maintain, if not increase, the competitiveness of its low-volume Touareg, Volkswagen has treated the 2015 model to a series of upgrades and enhancements for its mid-cycle freshening. These include new styling, redesigned interior switchgear, upgraded lights, and enhanced safety and driver assistance features. More than a bit curious to see how the Volkswagen compares to the others in the segment, I borrowed the keys to a new range-topping TDI model — with the popular turbocharged diesel engine — and took my family on an 800-mile road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back.