LIKELY TO SURVIVE ANYTHING
SUV OF THE YEAR
When VW finally jumped into the SUV
market, it knew that it couldn't do so with a mediocre product. Therefore, what
you see here is nothing short of the best SUV on the planet: the 2004 Volkswagen
of VW's horses and all of VW's men (and women) seemed to have been summoned to
get this remarkable truck to market, so it's no surprise to see a lot of technologies
and styling elements on the Touareg found on other VW offerings. Case in point:
the liquid-smooth V-6 and V-8 engines are the same as those found in many Audis,
while the exterior design looks like the big sister to the classy Passat.
Inside, the Touareg presents a gorgeous dashboard with more luxury features than
in any previous VW (save the similarly new, $70K Phaeton) including an available
navigation system, four-zone climate control and more. The Touareg's innovative
off-road system offers mountain-goat agility and the ability to cross deep streams,
especially when equipped with the optional air suspension (which also yields stellar
on-road manners). At about $35K, the base V-6 Touareg is a terrific value, with
prices rising to about $50K for a loaded V-8 model. Seem like a lot? You should
see for yourself just what you're getting.
If the 2004 Mercedes-Benz
G500 doesn't look new, it's because it's not: it has been produced now for about
a quarter of a century for non-U.S. markets. But now that we have it, we're loving
its old-is-new-again looks, want-for-nothing luxury, tremendous cargo area and
even more tremendous abilities that suddenly appear when the road disappears.
Sport-utilities are known for going where no vehicle has
gone before, but the GMC Envoy XUV truly is going where no vehicle has gone before
by offering a cargo area that not only opens from behind, but that opens up above
as well, leaving its mid-size luxury-SUV interior sealed from what amounts to
a pickup bed with tall sides. But at the flip of a switch, all that space can
be enclosed and the passenger area opened for a more traditional SUV arrangement.
Cool, handy and innovative. Cheers to that.