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Volkswagen launches all-new Touareg, adds Hybrid

Posted by: Mark Bilek

2011 Volkswagen TouaregThis fall Volkswagen introduces an all-new version of its midsize SUV and adds its first-ever hybrid. The 2011 Touareg is longer, lower, wider and lighter than the model it replaces and comes with more powerful engines and a host of new features.

Now in its second generation, the Touareg remains a five-passenger four-door wagon. All-wheel drive is standard, but for 2011 it loses its low range. Three powertrain choices are available in the 2011 model. Returning from last year are a 3.6-liter direct-injection gasoline engine that makes 280 horsepower and a 225-horsepower 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. New for 2011 is Volkswagen's first-ever gas-electric hybrid powertrain. It consists of a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and electric motor/battery combo that can produce a combined output of 380 horsepower. All models get an eight-speed automatic transmission and have a towing capacity of 7700 pounds.

The hybrid model has the ability to operate in gas-only, gas-electric, and electric-only modes. Like other hybrids, regenerative braking recovers energy and charges the NiMH batteries, so you do not have to plug in the Touareg Hybrid. According to VW, the hybrid powertrain increases fuel economy by four mpg over the gas-only model and three mpg compared to the diesel. It also offers the best acceleration of the three, running from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is slightly quicker than last year's V8 model.

Three trim levels are offered with the gas-only and diesel engines: Sport, Luxury, and Executive. The Sport starts at $44,450 and includes 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive HID headlights, LED day-time running lights, DVD touch-screen navigation, rear view camera, and power driver and passenger seats. The Luxury lists for $48,300 and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, Vienna leather interior surfaces, memory seats and wood trim. The line-topping Executive starts at $54,000 and adds 20-inch alloy wheels, Dynaudio sound system, park distance control, smart key, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel.

The Touareg Hybrid is separate model and is priced at $60,565 and comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, navigation system with rear view camera, leather seating surfaces, 12-way power driver and passenger seats, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, power adjustable steering column, memory seats, mirrors and steering column, park distance control, chrome design package and chrome exhaust pipe.

During a brief drive, one thing is apparent, the Touareg has moved from SUV to crossover. Gone are the ponderous body motions, lethargic-responding throttle and heavy-feeling steering. The 2011 model feels more athletic and responsive and also seems to be considerably quieter and more comfortable. The interior is also upgraded to include more features and a sliding rear seat.

Look for the gas-only and diesel model in VW showrooms right now. If you're interested in the Touareg Hybrid, you'll have to wait another month or so. Stay tuned for a full drive report on DriveChicago.com your source for new and used cars . . .

For more information on the new Touareg, visit VWs 2011 Touareg Web site.

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