This One Simple Change Transformed Our Volkswagen Touareg Into An Off-Road Monster: Tough T Ep. 3

It’s one of the most important parts for your car.

Whenever we buy a project car, we often think about the thousands of dollars in potential transforming it into a beastly machine. Particularly when you get into the world of off-roaders, the possibilities to create a monster of your own are endless. Is all that strictly necessary, though? Of course, throwing money into a project can achieve some awesome results, but this video goes to show that one of the smaller, less expensive mods to your car can make a massive difference. Take one of our latest purchases as a case in point: a 2004 Volkswagen Touareg.

Now, the first-generation Touareg is already a pretty capable machine out of the box. The “Tough T”, as we’ve come to call it, has a 4.2-liter V8 engine with 310 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque. At least, that’s when it was new. Other engine options at the time included a VR6 engine — at first a 3.2-liter unit, then later a 3.6-liter — as well as a sort of ridiculous 5.0-liter V10 turbodiesel. It also has a rear locking differential, and some European models actually had a front locking differential as well. Add to that up to 11.8 inches of ground clearance with the air suspension in its “Xtra” off-road setting, and you end up with an SUV that can tackle a wide range of terrain, even with all-season tires.

What about with new wheels and tires?

Throw in a set of beefy off-road tires, and the picture completely changes for the Touareg. While it was let down by its tires when we compared it to our Land Rover Discovery, this time the 2004 Volkswagen Touareg tackled Georgia Pass outside Breckenridge, Colorado with ease. We fitted a set of BFGoodrich KO2s and downsized to 17-inch wheels from the stock 18-inch wheels.

While it’s more capable, fitting new tires did blow out the budget. The wheels were fairly inexpensive, at $325 off eBay for the base V6 Touareg wheels. However, the set of meaty KO2s cost a whopping $900 for the set. Add that $1,225 on top of our $4,200 purchase, and we’re up to $5,825. The Touareg also faced some minor repairs for the air conditioning and a belt, and the all-in price stands at about $6,200.

Still, there are way more expensive ways to make it to the top of Georgia Pass and tougher trails without any drama. Stay tuned for more Tough T off-road action, including a journey to Moab and a run at one of its most notorious trails.