First drive: 2021 Volkswagen Teramont in the UAE
The Volkswagen Teramont didn’t make sense on the surface when it debuted a few years ago, considering the Touareg was still around. But it made perfect sense when you delved deeper into the specs sheet — compared to the 2-row Touareg, the Teramont had a third row of seating, and was actually larger and cheaper. While the latest Touareg moved even further upscale, the Teramont is holding the fort in the meat of the mid-size SUV market, going up against Ford Explorers and Nissan Pathfinders. And it has just received a nip-and-tuck for the 2021 model year.
The facelifted 2021 Teramont now has an updated exterior that includes a fully-redone front grille featuring the flat new Volkswagen logo. The headlights and taillights have been reshaped and upgraded to full LEDs. The front and rear bumpers have also been changed. All in all, it looks better than the dull old model, although it will still blend in with the background.
The redesigned vehicle comes in three trims for this region – Trendline (2.0L or 3.6L), Comfortline 3.6L, and the Highline 3.6L. It also includes optional ‘R-Line’ packages available for the Comfortline and Highline.
The crossover SUV comes in seven colours, including a new deep red option that really should make you stand out on the school run, especially with the R-Line appearance package that includes body-colour outer trim, sportier front bumper and unique wheels.
Inside, the seven-seater interior now features a new steering wheel and your choice of wood-looking and metal-looking trim options. Upper cabin panels are comprised of soft-touch surfaces, although there’s a fair bit of hard plastics lower in the cabin, which isn’t uncommon in this class. The top-spec models get real leather seat upholstery, with ventilated seats up front.
Space is good, and even the third row will hold adults, albeit in cramped conditions. The boot is huge with the third row folded down, even more so with the second row down.
Highlights include the 8-inch touchscreen and surround-view cameras. A 12-speaker Fender sound system and wireless phone charging are also available and on the Highline trim, a stunning 10-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, replacing the basic-looking physical gauges.
A full suite of driving aids and active safety features are available in higher-spec trims, such as adaptive cruise control
While the base model gets a 220 hp 2.0-litre turbo engine on the base model, our higher-spec test car came with a 3.6-litre V6 carried over from the pre-facelift model, making 280 hp and 360 Nm of torque. It’s not a ground-breaking motor by any means, but does the job well enough, offering good pulling power on up-and-down mountain roads and gravel trails on our trip to Hatta. It sounds uniquely grunty as well, and works well with the uncomplicated 8-speed automatic.
The Teramont behaves as well as you can expect, with a fairly quiet, comfortable ride and decent handling at reasonable speeds. The suspension is noticeably soft on bumpy roads, as the bounce is slightly more prominent than you’d expect from a “European” car, even if it’s built in America. Still, it’s nothing to be bothered with.
VW’s biggest offering is a wholly competent family vehicle that does every asked of it with ease. It has just about enough offroad capability to drive down marked paths to the campsite, while easily wafting down high-speed roads on the daily commute. In terms of rivals, the Ford Explorer offers less space, but drives better; the Nissan Pathfinder is getting a complete makeover soon; the Honda Pilot has more space, but appears totally undesirable; the Koreans offer far more, but intensely boring to drive; and Toyota doesn’t have any direct rivals in their current mish-mash line-up. The VW is going to have a tough time, but competitive pricing combined with its improved styling should see it do better in the tightly-contested SUV segment.
For UAE/GCC prices and specs, visit the VW buyer guide.
Photos by James Davison/Volkswagen Middle East.