Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Touareg Hybrid Offers Affordable Green Luxury

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Volkswagen is one of many European auto companies that looks at diesels as a better strategy to going green than hybridization. Although diesels are practical and efficient, many consumers in the U.S. still think of them as being foul-smelling and loud (no longer the case). Volkswagen has been working diligently to overcome that image through vehicles like the Passat TDI and the Jetta TDI. Now VW is beginning to move a bit more toward electrification – with both hybrid and electric vehicles. The Touareg Hybrid was the company’s first venture into the gasoline-electric hybrid world. After selling non-hybrid Touaregs as far back as 2002, the first generation hybrid Touareg was introduced in 2011.

The Touareg Hybrid is a midsize crossover SUV that is loaded with lots of standard premium features. It’s certainly not an entry level vehicle, but also doesn’t quite qualify for the luxury category, which leaves it with very few direct competitors. Interestingly, the Touareg (pronounced tour-egg) was named after an African Sahara tribe known as the Touareg (pronounced twa-regg). Volkswagen says the nomadic tribe are “the ultimate off-roaders.” The Touareg was brand new for the 2011 model year and there were no significant changes made until the 2015 model was released.

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Specifications of the Touareg Hybrid

Interestingly, the Touareg Hybrid shares its drivetrain with none other than the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid. It combines an Audi-sourced supercharged V6 engine, which cranks out 333 horsepower, with a 47 horsepower electric motor. The total output of the engine is 380 hp and it has a max torque of 425 pounds at just 1,000 rpm. The powertrain also has an amazing 7,700-pound towing capacity that not only exceeds other hybrid crossovers, but also many gasoline powered midsized models.

Volkswagen is also joining the movement to get away from the continuously variable transmission (CVT) which is employed in most hybrid vehicles. Instead the Touareg Hybrid uses an eight-speed automatic transmission that is driver-shiftable. This option is less costly and also wrings the most power out of the engine making the crossover feel more like a car than an SUV. The drivetrain is topped off with VW’s 4motion permanent all-wheel drive system that includes a Torsen self-locking center differential. The system is biased 60 percent to the rear under normal driving conditions, but if one of the wheels starts to slip, the differential will direct torque to the axle that is getting the most traction.

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The Touareg Hybrid also has another unique feature. It’s equipped with a hydraulic clutch located between the motor and the engine which will disengage the engine so it shuts down under light loads. Like several other hybrids, the electric motor restarts the engine on demand, and recharges the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack that was specially fitted to go in the spare-tire well.

Since many hybrid critics claim that most hybrid systems are useless during interstate cruising, Volkswagen gave the Touareg Hybrid a finely tuned system that gives lots of electric assist when the vehicle is at highway speeds. Volkswagen claims the Touareg Hybrid can run on electricity at speeds of up to 99 miles per hour, although that is a little deceptive because it really means that the engine might shut down while at higher speeds and leave the electric motor to propel the car. An added bonus for drivers is the motor being placed between the transmission and the engine in the parallel system. This results in less noise – that typical whine you sometimes hear when the electric motor is moving the hybrid vehicle on its own.

The Touareg Hybrid can do 0-60 in about 6.2 seconds with a top speed of over 150 miles per hour. It is EPA rated with a fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway – a big  step up from its gas-guzzling equivalent that has ratings only in the mid-teens.

The Styling of the Touareg Hybrid




Outside, the first generation Touareg Hybrid wears VW’s more corporate design. The staunch vertical lines of the grille perfectly blend into the swept back Bi-Xenon headlamps which are outlined with LED running lights. The lower grille is strengthened on either side by large air intakes, adding a somewhat muscular look. The body lines are clean and have no sharp creases, while the more distinct rear haunches add a dash of flair. Plus, the perfect amount of chrome trim was added to the outside to spice things up. The only proof of the Touareg Hybrid’s greenness is the small hybrid badges that decorate the front and rear of the vehicle’s exterior.

The inside was definitely designed with comfort and luxury in mind. The leather upholstery has a wonderful pronounced texture and the brushed metal and wooden trim are not overdone. It’s all matched perfectly with the standard panorama glass sunroof and a straightforward dashboard that is filled with clean lines and easy to locate controls. Different from other Volkswagen models that have bright blue gauges on the dash, the Touareg Hybrid is equipped with white gauges that have red indicators.

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The seats of the Touareg Hybrid were built for comfort, and not just in the front. The rear 60/40 split bench is heated and fully adjustable. The rear seat also slides forwards and back to make extra room for long-legged passengers, and it can be folded flat to expand the cargo space to a generous 64 cubic feet. The Touareg Hybrid is also equipped with a long list of standard features including a port for iPhones, standard and mini-USB, and 1/8-inch audio connectivity; an eight-speaker audio system; Bluetooth audio streaming; a CD player with two SD card slots; and satellite radio.

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This vehicle also comes standard with VW’s latest navigation system that includes maps, stored on a hard drive, which show 3D views of the terrain as well as the outline of surrounding buildings. The navigation displays on an eight-inch color touch screen that also has buttons to access the Bluetooth phone system and the stereo as well as the navigation. Park-distance control and a rear view camera are also standard, as well as adaptive front lighting, which is a system that can tell when oncoming traffic is approaching and will adjust the headlights accordingly to avoid unwanted glare.

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The Touareg Gets a Facelift in 2015

An area view camera was added to the standard trim package in 2014, but other than that the Touareg Hybrid was relatively unchanged until 2015. For the 2015 model year, the outside of the vehicle received an edgier look that is more aerodynamically efficient. The front of the Touareg Hybrid looks much different with larger and more trapezoidal headlamps and a new grille. It is also equipped with four bright bars instead of two that are paired with a lower air intake. The back of the crossover is wider and lower with larger exhaust pipes.

Inside the 2015 Touareg Hybrid there is an assortment of updated wood accents and an abundance of leather. The infotainment system has been enhanced, and the rotary controls have also been redone. One big change in the appearance of the interior is the conversion from red to white illumination on the dash. Many online mobile services have also been added including Google maps, Google earth, and Google street view.

The Touareg Hybrid’s safety features have also been updated by adding a surround view monitor that includes four cameras, an emergency braking system, lane assist control, adaptive cruise, dynamic light assist, and side assist warning. The 2015 Touareg is relatively the same under the hood and is rated with the same fuel economy as previous models. The MSRP for the vehicle is $62,865 (2015 model year).

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You can learn more about the hybrid version of the Touareg at the official Volkswagen website, here.

 

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