Sometimes it’s the little things that make a car special. Small, yet important, details can make for a more manageable drive and create a more comfortable environment for you and your passengers. And from the automatic folding side mirrors to the heated steering wheel and the easy-to-use information interface, the new Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid has them in spades. The fully loaded 2011 model piles on features inside and outside the cabin to complement the beautifully redesigned interior and exterior. It makes sense, though, that the technology in this SUV is equally as high-tech as the hybrid powertrain, which uses a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in addition to an electric motor to generate power and efficiency when you need them and makes for an exciting drive.
The Touareg Hybrid isn’t without its faults, however, despite the long standard feature list and stellar looks. The regenerative brakes are inconsistent, too sensitive when lightly braking and too dull when you need instant response. And all the tech in the world won’t convince some of the $60,000 price tag, which is thousands more than the base Touareg. And we hate to say it, but you’ll get better gas mileage out of the diesel version .
What's to Like
The combination of a supercharged engine and electric motor makes for one fun-to-drive hybrid. Comfort level, visibility and spaciousness have been improved over the outgoing model. A stunning panoramic roof really opens up the cabin space. The touch screen interface is clean and simple and provides great access to the hybrid system’s information. Exterior design looks great, as does the interior space.
What's Not to Like
Pricing is high. Very high. A standard Touareg starts at $44,000, and while the $16,000 jump does pack in every feature under the sun, a $60K-plus VW is hard to swallow. Not helping its cause is its gas mileage, which isn’t better than the more reasonably priced diesel version and only marginally better on the highway than the standard trim. Regenerative brakes give the pedal inconsistent travel and feel.
The Drive: Driving Impressions
On one level, the Touareg is like many hybrids on the market. The electric motor allows you to drive up to 30 mph on battery power alone (although it requires an extremely light foot to do so), which creates a serene city driving experience. It will also cut the engine when idling or while coasting – a nice feature when you’re at speed on the freeway. But if you need even just a bit of power, the supercharged V-6 jumps in, adding significant acceleration and power, and ostensibly breathing new life into the drive. The transi...