The completely redesigned VW Touareg lineup now includes the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid (Base MSRP: $60,565), a sharp-looking, technologically advanced hybrid SUV. While Volkswagen isn't usually considered a luxury brand, the Touareg Hybrid's starting price of more than $60,000 certainly puts it in that ballpark (and makes it Volkswagen's most expensive vehicle). But that doesn't mean it doesn't have the chops to play with the big luxury names. Reviewers universally praise the Touareg Hybrid's muscular hybrid powertrain, its well-appointed interior, its smooth ride and its long list of standard equipment. Luxury shoppers who are put off by the more pedestrian Volkswagen badge may like the mechanically similar 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid (Base MSRP: $67,700), which is tuned to be much sportier with a more striking look.
The hybrid system combines a supercharged, direct-injected, 3-liter, V6 engine with an electric motor. Together, these units are capable of producing 380 horsepower and 428 pound feet of torque. Acceleration is effortless and the tow capacity, at a brawny 7,700 pounds, is the best of any hybrid SUV. An eight-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the wheels. On the road, the Touareg Hybrid can travel solely on electric power at speeds of up to about 30 mph, and up to 75 mph if you're moving downhill.
The powertrain can also sail, as VW calls it, meaning that under no-load conditions on the highway, the gasoline and electric power can shut off entirely and decouple from the transmission, allowing for energy-free coasting. Emdunds.com says that when you want to "pick up the pace, a tap of the throttle causes the engine to seamlessly spring into action." Start/stop technology is present as well, allowing the engine to shut down at stop lights, which saves fuel. In describing the whole hybrid setup, Motor Trend says that "out on the highway, the only way to tell if the gasoline engine is on or off is to glance down at the tachometer [because] its engagement and disengagement from the drivetrain is completely unnoticeable."
Fuel economy in the Touareg Hybrid is quite good for an SUV with this sort of power and tow capacity. The EPA estimates that the Touareg Hybrid will deliver 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined. While good for its power output, these fuel-economy numbers are on the lower end across all vehicles and are about on par with others in the hybrid SUV class. The 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (Base MSRP: $38,140 to $43,795) is about the same size, costs more than $20,000 less and gets a combined 28 mpg according to the EPA.
All that power is managed with a supple and sophisticated ride quality that an Edmunds.com reviewer calls "as comfortable and secure as old money." Even in the Sport suspension mode, the Touareg Hybrid maintains a sophisticated ride quality. Car and Driver calls the Touareg's handling "surprisingly nimble for its heft, a fitting XL-size ambassador for the GTI," referring to VW's agile compact sports hatchback. Multiple reviewers mention that the electric steering is light and a tad numb in terms of feel, but that this likely won't be a deal-breaker for the majority of shoppers. The ambiance is extremely quiet, with one reviewer describing it as "still as a cathedral" on the road.
Power and solid driving dynamics aren't the only clues that this is a luxury vehicle. The interior gets praise from every expert that sets foot inside. CNET reviewer Wayne Cunningham says the Touareg "seems to borrow a little luxury from sister brand Audi." Reviewers say the interior materials are top-notch. Materials inside are soft to the touch, and all switchgear have an expensive feel to them. Reviewers are also impressed with the comfortable and supportive front seats. Standard equipment includes amenities like 3D navigation with traffic reporting, Bluetooth integration, voice command controls, an eight-speaker sound system, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, just to name a few. A 620-watt stereo is optional, but no third-row seat is available.
Cargo capacity behind the second-row seats is 32.1 cubic feet, which is about average for the class. With the rear seats folded, cargo capacity expands to 70.9 cubic feet.
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This designation means that the Touareg Hybrid receives the highest possible scores for front, side and rear impacts, as well as roof-strength tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not tested the Touareg Hybrid. Standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes, front and rear head airbags, front side airbags, stability control, traction control and electronic brake-pressure distribution.
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is expensive, but it also delivers a level of luxury, content and performance that's on par with its similarly priced peers, and nearly all reviewers find a lot to like. Shoppers in this price range may also consider the not-much-more-expensive 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, and shoppers who want luxury and good fuel economy would be smart to consider the 2011 Lexus RX 450h (Base MSRP: $44,735 to $46,325) and the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, as these models are both very well reviewed.
ConsumerReports.org has not yet tested the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, but they have tested the gasoline version. Impressions of the ride, interior and general safety features should apply to the hybrid, too.
Review: SUVs, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
As of this writing, Edmunds.com doesn't have its full model overview page up for the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, but it does provide a comprehensive road test of the vehicle. Reviewer Warren Clarke is impressed by many aspects of the Touareg Hybrid, including its nice interior, seamless power delivery and high levels of passenger comfort. He notes that the price is very high and that even some luxury hybrid SUVs get better fuel economy and are cheaper.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Road Test, Warren Clarke
The 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid gets good fuel economy considering the power it delivers and the weight it can tow. The EPA estimates it will deliver 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined. While good for the power it produces, that still is much less fuel efficient than some competing hybrid SUVs.
Review: 2011 Hybrid Vehicles, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid its Top Safety Pick designation. This means that the model receives the highest rating of Good for front-, side- and rear-impact collisions, as well as for rollover resistance.
Review: Large SUVs, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
5. Car and Driver
Car and Driver editor-in-chief Eddie Alterman clearly appreciates the technology that went into the Touareg Hybrid, but he comes away feeling that its high base price is asking a lot considering the diesel version is cheaper and more fuel efficient. While he says there is no question you'll never recoup the cost, Alterman still finds it to be a unique and alluring car as luxury SUVs go.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid -- Short Take Road Test, Eddie Alterman, Feb. 2011
6. Motor Trend
This first-drive review of the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid claims that "Volkswagen's first hybrid is a home run." Scott Evans gushes about the hybrid technology and luxurious interior, but he doesn't ruminate much on the price as it wasn't available yet during this review.
Review: First Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg, Scott Evans, March 2010
The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is described as "sporty and nimble for a rather healthy-size SUV." This reviewer's first drive leaves a good impression, and he discusses some of the technology that makes the Touareg Hybrid unique. Pricing was not available at the time of this review, so no analysis on value is given.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg, an AW Flash Drive, Greg Migliore, March 8, 2010
8. Road & Track
This general review of the Touareg lineup covers the gasoline and diesel versions as well as the hybrid, and gives a good overview of the highlights of the redesign and new features. A short discussion of the hybrid is included, as well as quick driving impressions. Pricing information was not available at the time this review was written and estimates of the price prove to be lower than the Touareg Hybrid's actual price.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg -- Driving Impressions, Shaun Bailey, March 8, 2010
9. Car and Driver
This Car and Driver first-drive review provides an overview of the Touareg's redesign for this year, including gasoline and diesel models. The reviewer describes the sailing technology and the seamless quality of the electric/gasoline powertrain. Otherwise, he notes that the Touareg Hybrid is like the regular Touareg in most ways.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg/Touareg Hybrid/Touareg TDI -- First Drive Review, Jared Gall, March 2010
Alex Taylor says the Touareg is in a bit of a quandary. It is priced as a luxury vehicle, but many people who can afford it would prefer a car with more brand cachet. Taylor says his stint with the car only returned about 18 mpg, considerably lower than its combined EPA rating of 20 mpg. He points out that the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (Base MSRP: $38,140 to $43,795) is the same size, cheaper and substantially more fuel efficient.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Supercharged Hybrid: VW's Square Peg, Alex Taylor, Feb. 2, 2011
11. Automobile Magazine
Phil Floraday ponders whether the Touareg Hybrid is really necessary, given that the diesel version is as fuel efficient and cheaper. In the end, he thinks the hybrid technology will set it apart and that it will have some buyers. He considers the overall redesigned Touareg lineup to be significantly improved over the outgoing models.
Review: First Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, Phil Floraday, March 2010
CNET is a technology-focused website that also reviews cars, focusing on the technological components and features. Wayne Cunningham summarizes the Touareg Hybrid's powertrain technology as "jaw-dropping," and is impressed with the standard and optional features on the inside. He cites the lack of true off-road suspension tuning as a demerit.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, Wayne Cunningham, March 29, 2011