Home » Keep AAA On Speed-Dial: 1999 Land Rover Discovery vs 2005 Volkswagen Touareg

Keep AAA On Speed-Dial: 1999 Land Rover Discovery vs 2005 Volkswagen Touareg

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Spring is here! The mercury is rising, foliage is green again, and countless wonderful trail rides await daring off-roaders. It’s time to get dirty. Going off-roading is an experience unlike any other and unless you’re one of the kooky cats of the Gambler 500, you’re going to want something capable for the task. Most people go for a Jeep or a Toyota, but some of the coolest off-roaders don’t come from America or Japan, but the United Kingdom and Germany. However, you might want to keep a tow truck at the ready.

Yesterday, Thomas gave you an intense matchup between a hero and a villain from the James Bond universe. The E38 BMW 7 Series and the Jaguar XKR convertible were both vehicles prominently featured during Pierce Brosnan’s run as Agent 007, and unlike Brosnan’s face, these cars haven’t aged so gracefully. You had the choice of German complexity versus British beauty, and complexity. Both of these vehicles have had a lot of work done to them, yet the cheaper Jag and its timing chain work won out over the much more expensive Beemer.

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In this case, evil prevailed and our titular hero has fallen, maybe next time double-0. Perhaps the voting could have been different had the BMW been priced a lot closer to the competing Jaguar. Our recent articles about BMW regrets and repairs probably haven’t convinced readers to roll the dice on the roundel.

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Today, I’m continuing the theme of pitting the Brits up against the Germans, but now we’re no longer in the world of Bond. Even better, the prices are going to be very close to each other.

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If you can believe it, there was once a time when Volkswagen was known for building vehicles capable of surviving some of the harshest environments. Beetles have been in places and taken part in races most cars could only dream of while the Volkswagen Iltis has real military bonafides. There was a time when Volkswagen was a bit obsessed with getting its cars rough and dirty, too, as evidenced by the Golf Country.

Land Rover’s contributions to off-roading don’t need an introduction. Many of you are already picturing the Camel Trophy SUVs and images of 4x4s conquering the English countryside and beyond. Land Rover is to the Brits as Jeep is to Americans. Yet, both of these brands are very different today. Volkswagen has no real off-road presence in America right now and Land Rover makes its cash from hyper-luxurious SUVs usually owned by people who scoff at the idea of leaving pavement. Let’s go back to the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

2005 Volkswagen Touareg V8 – $3,099

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.2-liter V8 making 310 HP, six-speed automatic, permanent 4×4.

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Odometer reading: 153,000 miles.

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Operational status: Runs and drives “strong.”

The Volkswagen Touareg is easily one of the most underrated off-road vehicles of the modern era. It looks like a boring crossover, but these SUVs have proven themselves to be outrageously capable when the going gets tough. The Volkswagen Touareg and its partner Porsche Cayenne were designed in a development program to create a pair of super SUVs.

It started with Porsche, which desperately needed a popular, mass-market vehicle to fill its coffers over the long term. The Cayenne was originally supposed to be a high-performance variant of the Mercedes-Benz ML, but that fell through, landing Porsche back with its old friend Volkswagen. The two companies weren’t joined yet, but did collaborate. This time, madman Ferdinand Piëch was at the helm of Volkswagen and saw potential in making a super SUV with Porsche.

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Out of the other end came a pair of mid-size SUVs with a 7,716-pound tow rating, short overhangs, limited-slip differentials, lockers, off-road traction control, and more than enough power to pull a Boeing 747 down a runway. In the case of the Porsche, you could have used the SUV to tow your racecar to the track and then you had enough power to race your Cayenne on the track after your racecar broke down.

This Volkswagen Touareg is a well-optioned example. It comes equipped with the middle engine that was offered in North America, the 4.2-liter V8. It’s good for 310 HP and drives a permanent four-wheel-drive system with a center-locking differential and low range. However, this one is a bit special as it has the rare rear-locker option as well. Also somewhat rare is its peanut butter leather interior. So many Touaregs were optioned with boring black or gray leather.

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Surprisingly, this example shows no warning lights on its display or in its instrument cluster. That said, these SUVs can fail in spectacular ways. The air suspension gives you great ride height but also likes developing leaks and blowing bags. The V8 under the hood sounds great and punches out decent power, but requires premium fuel, and its camshaft chains are known for wearing out. But hey, that’s for future you to worry about.

It’s $3,099 from the seller in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1999 Land Rover Discovery – $3,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 4.0-liter V8 making 182 HP, four-speed automatic, permanent 4×4.

Location: Cedar Lake, Indiana.

Odometer reading: 147,465 miles.

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Operational status: Runs and drives with new parts.

Back in the 1980s, Land Rover discovered that it created a problem for itself. It moved so far upmarket that it essentially abandoned its past of building tough off-roaders for outdoorsy types. There was a demand for an SUV that wasn’t as luxurious but could still tackle the toughest regions of the world.

The Land Rover Discovery I hit the trails in 1989. It rode on the same chassis and used the same four-wheel-drive system as the Range Rover, but was priced to attract a broad demographic of buyers. The Discovery filled the family off-roader void left by the luxury Range Rover. Here in America, competition from American and Japanese off-roaders convinced Land Rover that the Range Rover needed some backup. In 1994, the Discovery left its Solihull, United Kingdom factory for America.

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Land Rover tried to make the Discovery more than just a family off-roader, but a lifestyle product. Everyone sat high up with visibility and storage was abundant including roof bins and magazine holders. Rear passengers got their own vents and if you really wanted to be stylish, you could carry around a branded bag.

The Discovery is a pretty adept off-roader just like the Volkswagen and features a center locking differential and low range. Yet, it’s old-school with its solid axles and body-on-frame design as opposed to the VeeDub’s unibody. I’ve seen these getting dirty right there with the Touareg and don’t forget the iconic Camel Trophy SUVs! Of course, the elephant in the room is the fact that the aluminum V8s under the hood are notorious for eating up their head gaskets. Avoid that and you still have to fight rust and any number of problems that could put you on the back of a tow truck.

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This example is said to have heated seats and working air-conditioning. New parts include a serpentine belt, water pump, and brakes, but it will need a stereo.

It’s $3,000 from the seller in Cedar Lake, Indiana.
(Correction: This example is not a Series II. We regret the error.)

Both of these SUVs will get you far and beyond while being a bit different than the parade of Jeep Wranglers, Toyota 4Runners, and Ford Broncos that you see absolutely everywhere. The Volkswagen is an off-road sleeper that is far more capable than it looks while the Land Rover is a classy beauty that looks good in front of any rugged backdrop. Both of these SUVs are affordable options to get you into the sticks this summer. What’s your pick?

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Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
12 days ago

There is a two-door, manual transmission version of the Disco that is coming over under the 25-year rule that I am very tempted to screw up my life and buy.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
13 days ago

I’ll take the Touareg- it looks better and I’ve always been more into V-Dub’s than Land Rovers

Myk El
Myk El
13 days ago

NOPE.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
13 days ago

After watching the Croker vs Rover YouTube channel, I wouldn’t pick the Landy unless I had a chance to check everywhere for rust. It also seems that parts supply is pretty iffy on these and most aftermarket parts simply don’t fit. Plus, the model year listed is wrong and the interior is beat.

In the “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” contest, I’ll take the VW.

Yngve
Yngve
13 days ago

Is it possible for an article title to win COTD?

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
13 days ago

The Rover just because it looks the part.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
13 days ago

These are both fully committed off road vehicles. As in: they’re of the road most of the time.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
13 days ago

Volkswagen dependable off road vehicles were their barebones models. So Toureg, is that German for Tourniquet? Because you will be bleeding blood trying to fix it or money paying to fix it. And it’s Blah design over Land Rover never. Why is there a vote?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
13 days ago

The VW will have better on-road performance… so that’s my pick.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
13 days ago

If I’m going to gamble on a dodgy off roader, that is likely to strand me and cost me untold thousands in repairs, it’s not going to be in a blob of a Tuareg. Disco me up!

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
13 days ago

I voted the Land Rover as I would look at swapping in a 4bt Cummins into it if (well more like when) the engine goes and just making it an off road toy.

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
13 days ago

Land Rover for me, but only with internet play money. Those Touaregs are absolute garbage.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
13 days ago

I’ve always wanted a Disco, but the Touareg serves my needs better as a daily/tow rig. Parts, I imagine, are easier to source as well.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
13 days ago

Parts for the Disco are not only easier to source, but they’re probably cheaper for the most part. Hell you can even buy factory parts from online sellers if you don’t want to go the Proline route.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
13 days ago

I’m based out of Canada, we don’t exactly have a booming market with Land Rover. VWs and all German cars have pretty steady availability of parts, however.

That being said, I’ve never tried to source Landy parts. I just know any time I’ve needed something for my 80s Mercedes it’s been easy to source, and that the VW scene is hot & heavy in Canada’s two most populous provinces.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
13 days ago

https://rimmerbros.com/SubCategory–Discovery-2–m-292 has pretty much everything you need. Rovers North, Atlantic British/British Pacific are all US based close to the Canadian boarder so shipping is probably quicker from them.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
12 days ago

Huh, today I learned. I’ve steered clear of a few Discos specifically because they’re so rare, have known engine issues, and I figured parts would be hard to source.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
12 days ago

JLR has been selling parts to 3rd party part retailers since the almost beginning. It was probably a byproduct of supporting customers in Africa in the 60’s and 70’s when there was no dealer/mechanic network to speak of.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
13 days ago

So you need a vehicle that requires you to walk everywhere? If so Toureg is the answer. Did you mean you need a vehicle that needs daily towing? That is the only thing that fits.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
12 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I mean, I live in the rust belt and there is literal scores of Touareg/cayenne for sale, all of them between 200-300k on the odometer, so they can’t be that bad.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
12 days ago

Maybe. Or maybe they are bad and that is why so many people are selling them? We need the rest of the story. 😉

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
12 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I’d argue any vehicle consistently coming up for sale with high mileage has been reliable. I’m not saying buy it at that mileage, I’m saying one with 100k will likely serve me well.

MEK
MEK
13 days ago

Is this like an S&M thing? “What do you want today my pet, the whips or the chains?”

Either way you’re getting a beating.

Last edited 13 days ago by MEK
Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
13 days ago
Reply to  MEK

Have you seen Mercedes’ collection?

AlterId
AlterId
13 days ago
Reply to  MEK

Whatever the safe word is, consider it yelled.

Gubbin
Gubbin
13 days ago

Disco was underrated, and I’ll take this Disco’s 7,700 lbs tow rating. Also, what’s the point of an “adventure vehicle” if you can only go on adventures where you can reliably find premium gas?

SoCoFoMoCo
SoCoFoMoCo
13 days ago

Yeah, I’ll take the cool-looking unreliable British junk over the boring-looking unreliable German junk any day. Not to mention that the VW will likely be way more of a pain in the ass to work on than the Rover.

Autonerdery
Autonerdery
13 days ago

Pretty sure that’s a Disco I, not the 2—note the Austin Allegro-sourced door handles, which bit the dust on the ’98 refresh. Still, even though it’s a mystery what year it actually is, I think I’d still take it over the VW, no matter how tempting that peanut butter interior is.

David Frisby
David Frisby
13 days ago
Reply to  Autonerdery

Yes, this one is a facelift ‘Series 1’ Discovery – although not actually known as such. The series 2 came in 1998 with longer overhang and many other upgrades.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
13 days ago

Digging through the available photos, I think it’s a 96 or 97 (most likely a 97) as those 2 years were the when the D1 came with the GEMS V8. If it’s to believe that it’s the 4.0 under the hood errr I mean bonnet.

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