The completely redesigned 2011 Volkswagen Touareg sport utility vehicle, which will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show this January, will include a hybrid model in the range from the start.

The 2012 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid will be Volkswagen's first hybrid electric vehicle, and it will go on sale a year in the U.S. a year after the redesigned 2011 Touareg arrives at dealers.

Hybrid SUVs increasing

It joins an expanding array of large sport utilities that offer the option of a hybrid drivetrain. We just drove the 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 last week, and Mercedes-Benz will launch its ML450 Hybrid version next month as a 2010 model.

2010 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

2010 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

2009 Volkswagen Touareg TDI

Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Tahoe and its twin the GMC Yukon, as well as the full-bling Cadillac Escalade, are now entering their third year of selling hybrid variants.

VW + Porsche + Audi

The Touareg is one of three SUVs from the Volkswagen Group that shares a basic platform. The other two, the Porsche Cayenne and the Audi Q7, are also being redesigned at the same time as the Touareg.

The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid will use similar hardware to the 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, which will arrive at Porsche dealers in late 2010. The Touareg will also continue with its clean-diesel TDI model, which takes Volkswagen's TDI range upmarket.

Refined but thirsty

In the Bottom Line review of the 2009 Volkswagen Touareg on our sister site TheCarConnection, we liked its:

  • Smooth ride
  • Attractive, well-appointed interior
  • Refinement and quiet
  • Top safety protection

The downsides, we felt, were the:

  • Disappointing back-seat and cargo space
  • Lack of maneuverability for parking
  • Low fuel economy (gasoline engines)

One of two pricey VWs

The VW Touareg, launched as a 2004 model, was the first Volkswagen sport utility vehicle. It was one of two VW models that expanded the range into much pricier territory, along with the 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton full-size luxury sedan.

Unlike the Phaeton, which was withdrawn from the U.S. after three years, the Touareg has sold steadily and was joined last year by the Tiguan compact crossover. The Touareg has not, however, done particularly well in third-party quality and reliability surveys.