Easy and relaxing to drive and ride in, both round town and on the motorway
The interior is sensible rather than snazzy, but that means a satisfyingly user-friendly layout and intuitive controls
Stability control is standard but there are no airbags for the rearmost seats and crash test results raised some concerns
The interior is built to withstand family life, but the Touran hasn't shone in recent reliability surveys
Room for seven, provided the two in the very back are kids
All have air-con, cruise control and alloy wheels but we'd upgrade to add Bluetooth and steering-wheel mounted controls
Despite its looks, the Touran feels more like a regular car than a boxy MPV to drive, and there's not a bad engine on offer. The 103bhp supercharged 1.2 TSI petrol engine is a good bet for keeping costs down, and though it struggles a bit when the car is fully loaded, it'll be fine for most buyers. There's also a 138bhp 1.4 petrol, which is supercharged and turbocharged, but if you cover a lot of miles one of the diesels will be a better bet. The 1.6 is adequate while the 2.0-litre engines - with either 138 or 175bhp - give strong, smooth acceleration whenever you need it. Passengers will be grateful for the Touran's taut body control round corners and the smooth, quiet way it goes about its business.
The VW Touran is unlikely to draw any admiring glances but it's comfortable and built to last. All shapes and sizes should find enough adjustment to get comfortable at the wheel, and all round visibility is excellent. The controls couldn't be simpler and everything feels solid and smart. The three middle-row seats each slide, recline and fold individually and are wide enough for many models of child seat to fit three abreast here; only the outer two have Isofix points, however. The two rearmost seats that fold up from under the boot are best for children, especially as you can only get to them by tumbling forward the seat in front, and this will only tumble when in its farthest-back position, which leaves only child-size legroom in the rear - assuming the child is on a Group 2/3 or Group 2 booster, as there isn't enough room for a child in a Group 1 child seat if their feet dangle far over the end of their seat. Seven-up, there's only just enough room for a slim-folding buggy in the boot but with just four on board there's plenty of space for everyone's luggage. However, if you want to expand the load bay for furniture or other large items, bear in mind that although the middle-row seat backs fold down, the seats don't fold flat as in more practical rivals; to make more space you need either to tumble the seats forward or, if you want to use every available inch behind the front seats, remove them completely, which is hard work.
There are three trim levels. Even the cheapest, S, comes with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, four electric windows and cruise control. Extras on SE and Sport models include automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a USB input socket and VW's Park Assist system, which steers the car into a suitable parking space.
Owners rated the Touran above average for mechanical reliability in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, though they weren't quite as impressed with the service from dealers. As for safety, the Touran has stability control fitted as standard, along with front, side and curtain airbags, but these don't extend to the rearmost pair of seats. Crash tests by Euro NCAP when the car was launched in 2003 raised other safety issues: while the car scored the maximum five stars for adult safety under the tests made at the time (the test system has since been revised), there was cause for concern regarding child safety.
You can spend a lot on a high-end Touran, but even the more basic models make perfectly sound buys, even if resale values aren't particularly strong by VW standards. Every version has respectable fuel economy and CO2 emissions, but just remember that a Peugeot 5008 costs about the same and is much more practical.