In planning my trip to cross the Mojave Road in my Touareg TDI I found very little info online about some of my questions about desert expedition driving in the Touareg, so I thought I'd post a quick summary/report. Overall, I was very impressed by how the Touareg performed on this route, and look forward to more trips like this. We navigated the trail easily, with no damage to the vehicle. We got a lot of **** along the trail from Jeep people, making fun of us, and telling us to turn around because we wouldn't make it- especially noting that the water crossings would be way too deep for us, and the sand too soft. One guy said it looked like "his wife's vehicle" and would never make it out of there. We got about 12mpg on the trail using low range with the center diff locked almost the whole way, burning only about 10 gallons of fuel total over ~120 miles, out of the 36 gallons we had onboard. We never got stuck on any obstacles. This place is incredibly beautiful and remote.
We went from the Colorado river, over the Piute Mountains following the Old Cable Road route, and all the way to Afton Canyon campground over 3 days of driving. We bypassed a single obstacle- an incredibly steep hill going into Watson Wash going eastward, where there were deep off camber holes from rock crawlers, but otherwise completed the trail exactly as detailed in Dennis Casebier's guidebook.
- BFG A/T KO2 LT245/70R17 tires aired down to 20psi
- Ikamper Skycamp roof tent
- Steel sprung TDI Touareg, stock height (other than 1" lift from the tires alone)
- Lot's of recovery gear on board that we didn't use at all including straps, recovery boards, chains, hi-lift jack with accessories, and come-a-long
- The Piute Mountains were extremely rocky and technical, and we were climbing uphill on 2 wheels for much of the climb. The EDL worked incredibly well, and felt almost like a fully locked setup. We often got out and walked the route before driving obstacles. We kept ESC off the whole time, and the EDL clearly works with it turned off, which seems to be a point of disagreement online. It seemed like the hill descent control worked also with ESC off, in any case, 1st gear low range never required brakes down steep hills
- The descent into Watson Wash was likely unpassable, and bypassed
- There was lots of soft deep blow sand on the western part of the trail, which the Touareg easily floated over with low tire pressures, and higher speeds of about 15mph
- The water crossing in the Afton Canyon near the railroad bridge was roughly 20.5" deep (our rated fording depth with the added tire height) in the shallowest section, which was the north side. We hugged the North side and went about 1-2mph in low range 1st, with a tarp tied over the front grill. We encountered a Jeep (compass?) that had just drowned in the same crossing, and the Jeep Wrangler guys told us to turn back, that there was no chance we could make it. Before crossing we carefully mapped out the bottom of the crossing with a stick marked with our fording depth, and planned our route accordingly. We crossed it easily.
- With limited ground clearance, we often went very slow, and had to straddle ruts to not scrape the undercarriage
- We did hit rocks with the plastic skid panels a few times, but didn't get any damage due to slow speeds
We brought 15 gallons of water, 10 gallons of extra diesel, an entire week of food, a satellite PLB, and a SPOT tracker. It was ill-advised to travel this road alone, but we decided to do so anyways. A friend watched our location from the SPOT tracker, and was prepared to call one of the five off-road towing services in the area if we signaled a need for it via the SPOT tracker.