By on January 24, 2011

As a longtime champion of clean-diesel technology in the American market, Volkswagen’s decision to launch its all-new Touareg with a hybrid version comes as something of a surprise. Not only does VW have a stable of proven, efficient oil-burners to choose from, but the firm has, until very recently, savored its role as a skeptic of EV and hybrid drivetrains. And with the GM/Chrysler/BMW/Mercedes Two-Mode hybrid system conclusively failing to build a market for large gas-electric Utes, it seemed that the era of mass-market hybrid SUVs was at an end anyway. So, does VW’s excursion from its comfort zone make more sense on (or off) the road than on paper?

From the outside, the Touareg Hybrid’s most distinctive feature is VW’s latest aggressive corporate grille, which blends well with the standard (on Hybrids only) HID headlamps and LED accent lights. The wide and low stance fools the eye into believing the new Touareg has lost some girth compared to the old model, but it’s all show; the new model has actually gained several inches on the previous Touareg. But despite the increased dimensions, the 2011 Touareg is about 400lbs lighter than the outgoing model. How is this possible? VW calls the weight loss a benefit of the Touareg’s clean-sheet redesign: the subtle evolution of the exterior look hides just how thoroughly new this vehicle is.

Taken as a package, the Touareg is certainly a handsome vehicle, although the exterior still exudes the same “one sausage”  design philosophy that VW is fast becoming infamous for. Inside, on the other hand, the Touareg harkens back to the Phaeton-era Volkswagen that’s rapidly becoming a vanishing memory in this market. Though the interior is not as shockingly beautiful as the original Touareg was when it was released in 2002, it is still a far cry from the new Jetta’s mass-market aspirations. It’s obvious from the tasteful walnut trim to the perfect seams that this SUV was intended to compete with the other German brands on their home turf.

Speaking of the Germans, while GM, Chrysler, BMW and Mercedes were busy dumping over a billion US dollars into their abortive shared two-mode transmission, VW chose to take a different (read: less costly) route to electrification. While the Global Hybrid Two-Mode Hybrid transmission is a technological marvel combining two electric motor/generators and a 4 speed automatic transmission with CVT functionality, the transmission is both complex and expensive. So expensive, in fact, that its being dropped like a hot potato.

Instead of joining the alliance, VW wisely saved some cash and mated a ZF 8-speed transmission with a 46HP/221lb-ft “Hybrid Module” located between the transmission’s torque converter and the 333HP 3.0L supercharged V6 borrowed from the S4 sedan. Combined the system generates 380HP at 5,500RPM and 428lb-ft of torque at only 1,000RPM. While this may sound much like the Honda IMA system or the so-called “mild-hybrid” system shared by BMW and Mercedes on their large sedans, the VW system has some tricks up its sleeve. The innovation inside the 121-pound Hybrid Module is an engine disengagement clutch allowing the Touareg to drive in electric-only mode up to almost 40MPH. In contrast, the non-VW arrangements lack a clutch making them that are incapable of forward locomotion without the gasoline engine involved.

For SUV duty the VW hybrid arrangement pays real dividends. Since there is no delicate CVT or complicated 2-mode tranny involved, the Touareg Hybrid retains all the off-road and towing cred of the non-hybrid models. If you recall, the raison d’être for the expensive 2-mode hybrid transmission was supposed to be world-class towing capacity and off-road ability. In reality the 2-mode system in GM’s full-size SUVs and pickup trucks are rated to tow 26% less than the 7700lb rating of the Touareg Hybrid. How about the other Germans? The X6 Active Hybrid’s towing rating is 32% less and the ML450 hybrid rings in at a whopping 35% lower than the Touareg.

Back in 2008 Jonny Lieberman waxed poetic about the Touareg V10 TDI’s air suspension and AWD system, but nearly fainted at the sight of the $79,650 price tag. That Touareg was born with Phaeton pricing but sold like ice cubes to Eskimos. In an attempt to re-align the Touareg’s pricing with American expectations, prices went on the same crash diet as the curb weight. Our tester as equipped in the fully-loaded, top-of-the-line Hybrid trim rang in at $60,565. A V6 FSI model starts at $40,850 or $54,000 even when comparably equipped to the base Hybrid model.  Oil burner lovers rejoice; the V6 TDI diesel splits the difference at a more reasonable (than the V10 TDI) $44,350. How did VW slash pricing on the Touareg? Simple: de-content.

Under the floorboards the go-anywhere 4xMotion AWD system is no longer an option on this side of the pond, instead American buyers will only get the Torsen based 4Motion system. While it was always nice to know your Touareg could take you to hell and back, the 4Motion system is more than capable enough for 99% of SUV shoppers. Also gone is the air suspension package which would give Euro buyers increased ground clearance in trade for less road feel. Shoppers will also notice that there are few options available on the new Touareg and a number of high-dollar options are not even available in the USA: no radar cruise control, no lane warning, blind spot warning, area-view camera system, or the aforementioned  4xMotion AWD with low range and air suspension. Aside from the radar cruise control with pre-collision warning, I agree with the de-conteting. Few Touareg shoppers opted for the air suspension when it was offered and even fewer took their VW off-road.

Thankfully VW has decided to make the new 6.5” LCD Nav system standard on the Hybrid models (optional on other Touareg models). The new system combines greatly improved graphics with 3-D like map rendering, iPod and general car setting controls. Working in conjunction with the Nav system is the 7” high-resolution LCD between the tachometer and speedometer which probably displays the best navigation directions available in an in-cluster LCD system. A 60-GB internal hard drive serves up the mapping and has 18 GB set aside for you to download your media. Unlike some models we have tested recently both screens fared well in direct sunlight with limited glare and good visibility.

Out on the road the lack of 4xMotion in the US model combined with the crash diet yield huge benefits in handling and road feel over the previous Touareg. While the electric power steering is suitably numb, it makes up for the lack of road feel with decent heft and linear responses. Thanks mostly to 19”wheels wrapped in wide low-profile tires, lateral grip is excellent. Speaking of rubbers, the VW brings 265 width Magnum-sized tires to the party; sure to give even BMW X5 drivers a touch of wheel envy. When pushed to the limits, however, the envy will stop at the rubber. While I did not have access to a skidpad, the X5 feels like it delivers superior balance in the corners and certainly offers greater road feel (no electric power steering). In the straight line the forthcoming X5 ActiveHybrid is expected to be almost as athletic as the X6 ActiveHybrid taking 5.4 seconds for a sprint to 60 (5.2 for the X6), the Touareg Hybrid is no slouch and only one-tenth of a second behind at 5.5 thanks largely to the low-end torque of the supercharger and the hefty input from the hybrid module.

Given the design of the hybrid clutch system, I was expecting transitions between hybrid modes to be jerky but instead was rewarded with nearly seamless operation. The 8 speed is a smooth and willing partner and the electric motor is powerful enough to propel you up mild rolling hills in the suburban jungle without the aid of the engine. It should be noted however that the battery is sized to only allow a mile or two of gentle electric-only operation. The only real gripe I have with the hybrid system is the brakes: the transition between regenerative braking and real braking is not as smooth as it could be and adding to the poor feel is a regenerative braking system that doesn’t always let go immediately after lifting the brake pedal giving the feeling that you have a stuck caliper.

Economy is supposedly the reason we have hybrids? Right? Wrong. If you want economy, then the Touareg diesel is still the king with an EPA score of 19/28 MPG city/highway. The Hybrid clocks in at 20/24 which is not bad compared to the base VR6 model at 16/23 but looking at these numbers misses the (some say misguided) pointof  the Hybrid. VW would rather you think of the V6 Hybrid as being the virtual V8 that it isn’t offering in the Touareg, and by that measure our average of 22.5MPG over an 800-mile week of mixed driving isn’t bad.

Of course numbers are nothing without perspective so here we go: The Mercedes ML450 Hybrid delivers a matching 20/24MPGbut is considerably slower requiring 2.3 seconds longer to run to 60MPH and is more than $7,000 more expensive when comparably equipped. The X6 ActiveHybrid is EPA tested at 17/19MPG and if the X5 ActiveHybrid ever lands on these shores we should expect similar EPA numbers and a similar $88,000 starting price tag. Of course if you really wanted to save the planet and your wallet you’ll just drive right by the VW dealer and pick up a 2011 Lexus RX450h which undercuts the VW with a fully-loaded price of $54,952 and delivers a lofty 32/28MPG at the expense of being the slowest to 60 in the bunch at 7.8 seconds to 60 and having a towing capacity of only 3,500lbs.

Although Volkswagen as a brand plays in the mass and near-luxury markets, the Touareg has been, and continues to be part of VW’s conflicted mission in America. Back in 2002 VW launched the Phaeton and Touareg in America, two vehicles with fantastic attention to detail and similarly high price tags. With the new Passat and Jetta going down-market to compete more directly with the Civics and Accords of the world, the Touareg has clung onto its premium feel and at least some of the premium pricing.  Perhaps this positioning is intended to give the Passat and Jetta some spizzarkle? Or is the Touareg just a leftover from Phaeton era, another world-class car with the wrong badge on the front? Our readers and the market will have to decide that one.

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

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52 Comments on “Review: 2011 VW Touareg Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I think I’d rather have a V8.
     
    Personally, I’m thinking the diesel makes the most sense.  If you want economy, you’d get the diesel.  If you want power/speed, you probably don’t care about the hybrid fuel economy.
     
    that’s me.  still stuck trying to figure out exactly why we are all supposed to like these machines that are horrendously complicated and far more expensive when extra maintenance/repairs and the cost of the components can buy extra fuel for years….

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      these machines that are horrendously complicated and far more expensive when extra maintenance/repairs….

      Is that why the Prius is one of the most reliable cars on the market? The evidence seems to indicate that “horrendously complicated” electrically driven accessories that are required on a hybrid, are far more durable and reliable than the less complicated traditional setup.

    • 0 avatar


      Reliability? Remains to be seen. The Prius and most hybrids are very reliable, but the VUE hybrid was a nightmare.
      Once enough owners are involved we’ll start providing reliability stats on the new Touarag at TrueDelta.com.
      To assist with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car:
      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Is that why the Prius is one of the most reliable cars on the market?

       
      The Prius gets exceptional mileage, isn’t rated to tow 7700lbs, doesn’t have a supercharger, doesn’t have an eight-speed transmission, doesn’t go 0-60 in under 6 seconds, isn’t AWD, and isn’t a luxury VW.
       
      Just because Toyota can build reliable hybrids doesn’t mean the Germans can.

    • 0 avatar
      neevers1

      Comparing this to a Toyota is like, well comparing a Volkswagen to a Toyota, they could not be further apart in terms of reliability. Sure Toyota, Honda, Ford, and other companies might be able to make a hybrid and it be ok, but Volkswagen? I’d put money on no, no they cannot.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Seems like an answer to a question no one ever asked. The TDI is available for a similar amount of money and gets better economy, so I really don’t see the point of a hybrid version. If VW really wanted to sell some utility vehicles, they’d offer the Tiguan with a TDI.

    • 0 avatar

      The Hybrid is much quicker than the diesel. Fuel economy will depend on use. Frequent stops favor the hybrid, highway favors the TDI. Also, diesel fuel can sometimes cost quite a bit more. And has VW switched to the AdBlue system? That adds quite a bit to the running cost.
      To see how the prices and features actually compare:
      http://www.truedelta.com/prices.php
       

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “pick up a 2011 Lexus RX450h which undercuts the VW with a fully-loaded price of $54,952 and delivers a lofty 32/28MPG at the expense of being the slowest to 60 in the bunch at 7.8 seconds to 60 and having a towing capacity of only 3,500lbs.”
    Yep Alex. A soft touch to a hard reality.
    I shudder to think of transmission replacement costs on this vehicle. Any hybrid in today’s market that does not employ planetary gears is offering an inherently inferior design to the marketplace.
    Nearly 5000 pounds and 100,000 miles of driving will turn VW’s Hybrid Module into a melted piece of metal mush.

    • 0 avatar
      suspekt

      Isn’t the hybird approach applied here by VW very similar to the one employed by Hyundai on the new Sonata/Optima?

      Re: HONDA IMA
      I am still hopeful that Honda will reveal an evolution of the IMA system that will reveal its true potential…   they are the only ones I see melding an ICE engine with an electric motor within the engine assembly… I think Honda has played it slow and steady as they seem to be trying to merge existing tooling for their engines with a hybrid solution….

      I just think Honda’s overall strategy with IMA (from a shareholders perspective) has provided them with the greatest cost/benefit….. and I am still amazed the original Insight achieved an average efficiency rating of 3.3L/100km… astounding….

    • 0 avatar
      TomH

      Mmmmmmmmm, the ZF-8 Spd in the Touareg is a planetary gear set transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      The approach is similar to Hyundai’s. The difference is that Hyundai has taken further advantage of the system to eliminate the torque converter. I wonder why VW didn’t do the same–possibly towing, possibly because they didn’t explore it.

    • 0 avatar
      TomH

      Mike K.
      The Torque Converter dimension is unrelated to the hybrid. (It is needed for towing.)

      Hyundai is using a DCT while VW has an AMT.  The key to the parallel hybrid is that they work with the existing transmission architectures and do not depend on a purpose-built CVT.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Is there going to be a big market for this in China or something?  I don’t see a bright future for it here.  I don’t see where American consumers think of VW as a luxury brand, so the price is sorta hard to justify.  The perception on my street is that VW’s aren’t very reliable and adding a hybrid component to a vehicle with perceived low reliability isn’t something that’s going to comfort anybody.

  • avatar
    JMII

    When is someone going to stick an engine like this in a pickup? I realize SUVs have an areodynamic advantage over trucks w/beds, but this kind of power-to-mileage ratio seems unbelievable to me compared to my current Dodge’s 4.7l V8. Granted this thing costs nearly 3X my truck but how much of that is just the engine?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Why would anyone spend $6500 more to gain 2.5 more mpg?
     
    At 15k miles annually and $3.50/gallon, that works out to a 21-year payback.  Fail.
     
    At least the decontenting seems to make sense and doesn’t look too bad.  If you really must have a Toureg, take the V-6.

    • 0 avatar
      Fusion

      Because its also faster? As stated in the review – the Hybrid is the V8 – Replacement.
       
      The VR6 will take 7.4s to 60, and will only get you to 228km/h (VWUS site doesn’t state vmax, so that value is from the german VW site). The Hybrid will only take 6.2 seconds to 60, and take you up to 240km/h. While using less fuel and enabling you to feel somewhat “green” about it. ;)
       
      To put them into perspective – those numbers are way above the old Touaregs V8 (8,1s/218kmh) or V10TDI (7,8s / 231kmh) offering, and almost on par with the W12 (5.9s / 250kmh (limited))
       
      Now, I don’t know about the US performance, but the first Touareg reportedly sold more than 500.000 cars worldwide during its 7.5 year run, so about 65k/year. BMW reported a million X5 in 11 years (90k/year) and Mercedes talks about 1,1million M’s from 97 to 09 (90k/year). So the Touareg isn’t quite up to those numbers, but certainly not a flop either…

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Because it’s more powerful. I’m sure that you can relate to people spending more for a V8 or turbo option. Now imagine that this is that, with the bonus of burning less fuel – instead of more.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah yes, the same “performance hybrid” strategy used by the Accord Hybrid. And that car really burned up the sales charts, didn’t it?
       
      I fail to see why this thing needed to hit 60 in under 6 seconds. For Pete’s sake, back off on the sports car performance and deliver on the economy.

      Furthermore, why does VW continue to invest so much money and effort in building niche vehicles when its main goal is supposedly to be the #1 selling automaker?

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I was wondering if a turbo vs. supercharger would have yielded a better improvement at the same performance, which is much faster than it needs to be.
       
      @Alex “of course if you really wanted to save the plant and your wallet…”
      Which plant would that be? ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Detroit-Iron,
      It would be the ficus on the left. Thanks for catching that!

  • avatar
    vww12

    I like the pic showing the 12V and 110V outlets.
    Then again, V8 Touaregs from 2006 already had those (except the 110V was in another location)… plus independent full HVAC/seat heating controls for _each_ of the rear passengers (4-zone climatronic).
    Compared to a 2004-2006 fully optioned T1, the T3 is pretty much the same vehicle, with many, many options deleted, but better engines/updated electronics/less weight.

  • avatar
    srogers

    I get a kick out of the people who calculate payback using today’s price/gallon. Did you ever consider that, on average, fuel prices go up over time?
     

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I’ll call your bluff there: based on the previous calculation of 20 years to payback at 3.50, we get, what, 2 years at 35.00… So if you want it to work out for your 48 month lease, gas just needs to -average- 17.50 per gallon for the next 4 years! Now, I’m not an incurable optimist, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and peg that one as ‘unlikely’…

    • 0 avatar
      neevers1

      Adjusted for inflation we were paying $2.31 back in 1960.
       
      It really hasn’t gone up that much…..
       
      Will it go up more in the future? I don’t know, no one does, it’s the future, if I or anyone could see the future they’d be richer than Bill Gates.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Yeah, it seems VW shot the Touareg in its feet by apparently accepting that they just can’t get the brand value they enjoy in Europe carried over to the US market.

    Now the cheaply made US versions of the Passat and Jetta will make nobody yearn for a premium priced Touareg.

    On the car itself, I liked the old one better. I also think the Nav unit looks bad in that shiny black plastic trim. Still, I’ve read in another review that chicks dig guys with Touaregs (in Europe) so at least that’s one thing it’s got going for it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Mr. Dykes:
     
    I really like that you list acceleration stats in your reviews, however I don’t like that you never list testing conditions or your launching method.
     
    I also don’t like how you compare your personal 0-60 times on a test vehicle with what other publications manage in competitors.
     
    It isn’t fair to say the Toureg Hybrid is just one-tenth slower than the X5 hybrid and 2.3 seconds faster than the ML450 Hybrid if you did not have a respective example of the BMW and Merc the same time you tested the VW. Don’t cross sources.  Just give us what you got in the particular test car and leave it at that.
     
    I’d like to see 5-60 times and 1/4-mile time/trap speeds in your reviews as well, although I don’t know if that would be feasible for you.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      At what point did sub-six-second 0-60 times become a necessity for freaking SUVs?! You’re already likely to get yourself into trouble doing that in a 350z; hauling a top-heavy iceberg like these things around at those accelerations is something I’d find more terrifying than envigorating…

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      +1 on that comment, Perisoft.  Since the typical SUV seems to weigh about 2 1/2  –  3 tons, its destructive potential is pretty high — and I don’t care how big the brakes are, how trick the suspension is or how fat the tires are.  That’s a lot of mass flying around.
      On a further note, my experience in owning a number of sub-7 second to 60 cars (including on sub-6 seconds to 60) is that the utility of a vehicle (other than a true sports car) that hits 60 mph in less than 6 seconds is really questionable, unless “bragging rights” is a form of utility.
      Of course, people who have the money are free to spend it how they want, but it would be nice to see — even at the “luxury” end of things — car manufacturers willing to say “fast enough” for everything but true sports cars, whose raison d’etre is performance.
      This truck seems to fall in the “performance hybrid” classification, which includes the unlamented Honda Accord hybrid, as well as the slow-selling Lexus GS450H.  I think the basic problem is that luxury buyers are willing to pay the fuel penalty for big-engine performance rather than have the hybrid powertrain, if that performance is what they want.  Certainly the added cost of the hybrid powertrain is not cost-effective (perhaps no hybrid really is, with the possible exception of the Prius) and it doesn’t make enough of a “statement” (unlike, say, the Prius) to compensate.
      As someone who grew up driving the cars of the 60s, I guess I had the sense that sub-7 second cars were truly “fast.”  (Check out the times for some of the hot cars of the era, whose performance was admittedly limited by the available tires.) And that your typical family car that would hit 60 in under 10 seconds was “adequate.”  Sure, I suffered through the performance dearth of the 70s and 80s, and was delighted when engine technology reached the point of power and reasonable fuel economy by the 90s.  But you really can have too much of a good thing, IMHO.
      Guess I’m getting old, huh?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I will see what we can accommodate in future reviews, 1/4 mile times may run into legal issues as the only private roads I have access to at the moment are not long enough, 5-60 times are feasible, I’ll see how we can integrate that next time.
      My launching method is always the same, dry roadway in an area where 60MPH is legal, warm engine, come to a complete stop and romp on the go pedal with no lead out. This is the same as you would do if you were to stop-light-race (not that we condone such activities).
      My comparative 0-60 times are not from competitive publications but manufacturer specified 0-60 times. It should be noted that if there is a variation from the manufacturer’s 0-60 time I will always mention it. So this is an apples-to-apples comparison based on the claimed specs from the car manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @Alex Dykes:
       
      Maybe you could do the 1/8 mile if you don’t have the room for a full quarter?
       
      I’m glad you use manufacturer provided 0-60 times.
       
      In this case though, what does VW say the 0-60 time should be?  I’m doubting it’s 5.5 as Porsche claims the similar Cayenne hybrid does it in 6.1.  I couldn’t find anywhere that tested a Touareg Hybrid that did it under 6.  This might have been a good review to mention that you crushed the manufacturer claimed time.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The official 0-60 specs from VW’s press kit is 6.2 seconds to 60. I discovered that the Touareg is actually a decent bit faster than that if the stars align right: fully charged battery so you can be sure to get the most boost out of the system, warm engine, Sport mode engaged with the transmission. There is some slop inherent in the accelerometer based testing, so you could argue that reality is slightly slower. Also, the test lists times in hundredths which I usually discount but it was a 5.54 second result, so it is that little bit closer to the 6 second mark. In the real world it’s damn fast any way you slice it.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    If I were in the market for a German car, I would be so primarily because I understand that they are engineered & manufactured to be driven at speed (aggressively), on the Autobahn.
     
    That said, it is virtually illegal to take a vehicle off-road on a forest path in Germany;  I know this first hand, having received an ear-full from a local Forestmeister on more than one occasion.  Thus, why would I buy a VW Toureg when there is no heritage for this sort of vehicle?  And virtually no one will make this purchase in Germany…except for a handful of people who are emulating the aloof “Chelsea tractor” persona.  Thus, we are getting a vehicle in America that is totally about image and not about execution…right down to the ridiculous hybrid badging and woeful hybrid results.
     
    VW:  Just when we think you might get it, you poop out a “new” Jetta and present us a Toureg aberration.  Are we absolutely sure VW isn’t a French company?
     

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I suspect the hybrid version of this will not find acceptance in the marketplace.  Just look at the hybrid Accord.  Performance over mileage.  Bad mix.  Hybrid buyers want mileage and are willing to trades some performance to get it.  Speed folks aren’t interested in hybrid anything and consider higher fuel costs the cost of entry into performance.  Will this vehicle be the one to show that speed and decent mileage are a good combo?  I don’t think so…

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    My friend has a Toureg and would be happy to regale you with the endless problems with the vehicle, dealer attitude and VW’s blame game system of avoiding all warranty work at any cost.  A stripped oil pan drain? Not covered because you can’t prove OUR service department did it.

    • 0 avatar
      neevers1

      It’s a VolksWagen, of course it’s going to be a pile of trash.
       
      I know I know someone has one in Europe that’s gone a million miles on one tank of gas, and does a dance every time you get in it, studies show you are the lucky, lucky minority.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I’ll just point out that both of my VW dealers have been exemplary.  In addition, VW corporate has always paid warranty claims without issue. Indeed, when I needed new A-arms (at 120k miles) on my ’98 Passat, VW happily paid.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    I recently drove a 2011 Touareg Hybrid for a few miles. The interior is well done. The low-speed ride is somewhat harsh. Cornering must be done slowly due to the car’s 2.5 tons. The Touareg needs an air suspension. Its capacity is that of a medium-sized station wagon. Overall a nice car, but not a good value at $60,000. Certainly not an enthusiast’s car. A 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with air suspension is an interesting alternative, but that too is no vehicle for driving enthusiastically on twisty roads, though it has a substantially lower list price. As another poster wrote, the Touareg is an answer to a question no one asked.

  • avatar
    55rps

    Touaregs first sold in the US in the 2004 model year, not 2002 and VW dealers were not ready for clientele that spends $60k to $80k on a vehicle, Phaetons included.
    Would have loved to see a diesel V8. Why bother with both a diesel 6 and a hybrid 6? Pick one. Do a diesel 8 and a gas/hybrid 6 with no supercharger in this iteration and follow through with the subtraction of some of the Gen1/Gen2 goodies to accomplish the price tag drop.
    More evidence that VW doesn’t know what to do with the Touareg so they use it to test-run a hybrid system.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    The 7700 pound tow rating is most likely academic in the US market, as anyone who tows that much on a regular basis tends to a full-size truck based SUV or a proper pickup truck.
     
    You don’t see many fancy German SUVs pulling travel trailers or ski boats in WA or OR. Domestics (and the occasional Tundra) do this.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      Our 2011 Touareg diesel does a far better job of towing the 22 foot boat than the ML 320 did. Of course eastern Virginia is pretty flat.
      Without the boat the highway mpg. is the same as the AMG, which is a lot more fun.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I’ve logged more than a few Touareg tow miles. I utterly fell in love with the tdi doing so, and while this hybrid sounds interesting, it really only just has more torque than the diesel version. So I’d stick with the oil burner. I might add that I was deeply skeptical when I first saw I’d be towing with a (euro sized) SUV, but despite the fact that you can feel trailer inputs more clearly the vehicle did handle (at least) it’s tow rating in weight.
       
      This is the perfect SUV for wealthy people with expensive hobbies. That 7700 lb rating is for boats, small horse trailers and off road toys. Given no financial concerns (b/c I certainly can’t afford this car by any measure) I’d take the VW over a nice Grand Cherokee for this purpose.
       
      FWIW I think the most interesting thing about the new Touareg is the 40/60 torque split. Let’s pay attention to that so other manufacturers emulate it.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      In the USA, yes. In the EU it makes a great deal of difference since nobody buys big trucks to tow. Truth be told I do a great deal of hauling with my dual axle trailer (use it to test any press car I can find with a tow hitch) and it is usually connected to a GMC Envoy which has an awful 4 speed transmission but tows a 7,000lb trailer just fine up steep grades. By far I prefer the utility of an SUV that is towing because you can tow and carry some covered cargo and 5 people in some sort of comfort compared to a pickup of similar dimensions.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    ohe great another thread for people to rip on VW.  I havent had a new touareg come through or driven one but the other generations are beyond Fantastic.  These are the SUV’s that people in the know drive.  The higher trim levels were always fantastic and blow away the x5, M, etc. I’m not sure why everyone complains about price, VW sold tons of V8 Touaregs with air suspension which were 55k+ rigs.  This is one sweet SUV and an awesome buy for people in the know who don’t need a roundel or laurels on their grill.  This is the phaeton of the SUV world.  Why does that car get so much praise on here and no love for this?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I completely agree. The Phaeton and Touareg are really very good vehicles. Note I did not say reliable, that’s a different topic. The perception of brand positioning is the problem in America, we’re brand whores on this continent.

    • 0 avatar
      JJ

      Europeans are brand whores too, it’s just that Europeans value the VW badge way higher than Americans do.

      But at the same time, Lexus for instance still hasn’t managed to shake off their ‘expensive Toyota’ image in Europe (and there’s also nothing to hint that that’s going to change).

  • avatar
    jkross22

    It seems VW made some smart moves with de-contenting expensive, heavy options, but I wonder what data they had seen that said people want performance hybrids that don’t yield much higher than average mileage.  That doesn’t compute.  The only car offered to date that fit that mold was the Accord Hybrid and that (sadly) sold poorly.  Granted they may simply be trying to reap economies of scale with the Cayenne Hybrid, but the Cayenne is a lifestyle vehicle for rich Prius drivers.  I don’t understand why a rich Prius owner would buy a VW.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      You forget the Lexus GS and LS hybrids along with the BMW X6 and X5 ActiveHybrid. I think the difference is in the marketing, it is much easier to stomach a “performance hybrid” in the luxury arena than in the cut-throat mass market.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I guess you guys just don’t understand the vehicles concept.  This is a direct competitor to the BMW X5, MB M class,RR LR2345, whatever POS Lexus builds in this class.  I say direct competitor, but the touareg in the past has absolutly dominated these cars in ride, quality, interior, etc.  Really the closest competitor in my my eyes is its cousin the Cayenne.  Having Driven ALL these cars extensivly over the years I can confidently say the Touareg and Cayenne have been the two best SUVs you can buy at any price point.

  • avatar
    kuyafabes

    Wrong here: the 8-speed AT is an Aisin, not ZF.

  • avatar
    drifter

    Touareg Hybrid’s most distinctive feature is VW’s latest aggressive corporate grille
    which was borrowed from 1996 Camry, god save VW and it’s fanbois


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