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Volkswagen's first hybrid is based on its Touareg SUV, which gets a big update for the 2011 model year. Along with new power train options, the Touareg gets new exterior styling and cabin tech.
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Volkswagen's Touareg lineup includes the hybrid, a 3-liter diesel, and a 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine. The hybrid offers by far the most power, and the fuel economy is similar to that of the diesel.
The power train consists of a supercharged direct-injection 3-liter V-6, supported by an electric motor powered by a 1.7kWh battery pack. The system generates 380 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque.
The Touareg has typical SUV dimensions, including seating for five and ample cargo area. Rear seat room is surprisingly spacious for a car that does not seem particularly long when standing near it.
Four-wheel drive comes standard in the Touareg Hybrid, although unlike past generations of the model, an air suspension is not available.
With a carpeted cargo area, the Touareg Hybrid is designed more for suitcases than paint buckets and scrap wood.
The Touareg is one of Volkswagen's most luxurious models, featuring a very comfortable cabin with leather seats and soft touch materials.
The steering uses an electro-hydraulic power unit, essential for times when the engine is shut off, such as at traffic stops and slow, electric mode cruising.
Volkswagen uses this style of multidirectional switch on the steering-wheel spokes, allowing control over the audio system and center display.
The instrument cluster display not only shows navigation, but also has a phone, stereo, and trip computer display.
The Touareg Hybrid gets eight gears in its automatic transmission, letting the engine more easily find its optimal running speed.
This hybrid power animation shows the battery charge level, and when power is coming from the engine or the battery.
This offroad display is window dressing for the Touareg Hybrid, as the vehicle is not built for serious off-road challenges.
Volkswagen's new navigation system shows rich detail on its maps, including 3D rendered buildings and topographical terrain features.
The general graphical style for this new infotainment system is very sophisticated. The touch screen works well, and most functions can be controlled with voice command.
The onscreen keyboard is large enough for easy alphanumeric inputs. It also uses predictive text, disabling letters that don't fit with any words in its database.
The navigation system integrates traffic data, showing it in this list format and overlaid on the maps.
The Touareg Hybrid includes terrestrial and satellite radio, but does not have HD Radio.
The interface for music stored on the car's hard drive and on a connected iPod uses this familiar library format. Voice command also lets you request music by artist or album name.
A CD player sits hidden in the glove box, lowering down at the pull of a tab. There are two SD card slots on its face.
The phone system offers most modern features, such as contact list download and dial by name with voice command.
Volkswagen's rearview camera is excellent, showing trajectory and distance lines.