2011 Volkswagen Touareg
2011 Volkswagen TouaregEnlarge Photo
Last week, Volkswagen unveiled the all-new 2011 Touareg sport utility vehicle, including its first-ever hybrid-electric powertrain. It has new and crisper styling that updates what had become a somewhat outmoded SUV.
Volkswagen sold about half a million of the first-generation Touareg, launched in 2004, and the new model retains the off-road abilities VW built into its first SUV. But it's lighter, more luxurious, and far more fuel efficient than its predecessor.
V-6 engines only
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg to be sold in the States offers only V-6 engines, in gasoline and diesel. A 4.2-liter V-8 TDI diesel offered elsewhere won't come to the States, and previous gasoline V-8 and V-10 TDI diesel engines are no longer needed.
The gasoline V-6 hybrid model is now the top of the line, replacing those two larger engines not only in the U.S. but also in Europe. It will arrive one year later, as a 2012 model. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models.
Hybrid shared with Audi, Porsche
The hybrid uses a 328-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged direct-injected V-6 engine mated to a 34-kilowatt (46-horsepower) electric motor mounted between the engine and the transmission. Our editor Marty Padgett drove a prototype Touareg Hybrid last October.
This setup, though far simpler than Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, means that the Touareg Hybrid can run on electric power or recharge the battery pack, but it can't do both at the same time.
The hybrid-electric system used in the Touareg will also be shared with an all-new Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, as well as a redesign of the Audi Q7. The 2012 Porsche Cayenne is expected to go on sale late next year.
All three are built in the same plant, and to get economies of scale, Volkswagen Group needs to use the system as widely as possible.
Tow rating: 7,500 pounds
The peak combined power of the engine and motor is 374 horsepower, suitable for towing up to 7,500 pounds, Volkswagen says. It will do 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds, and maximum speed is 144 miles per hour.
The new 2012 Touareg Hybrid will run in all-electric mode up to 30 miles per hour. The engine is disengaged from the transmission not only in electric mode, but even when the driver releases the accelerator pedal at speeds up to 100 mph, reducing energy lost to drag.
As with most hybrids, the bulk of the braking goes toward regenerating energy to recharge the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. And the engine is switched off each time the vehicle comes to a stop, restarting when the driver lifts off the brake pedal.