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2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid (photos)

The Touareg Hybrid is a surprising vehicle, featuring a supercharged gas engine that, combined with its electric motor, gives it scary acceleration. Fuel economy is decent, but the real story here is power.

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Wayne Cunningham
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Four-wheel drive comes standard in the Touareg Hybrid, although unlike past generations of the model, an air suspension is not available.

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With a carpeted cargo area, the Touareg Hybrid is designed more for suitcases than paint buckets and scrap wood.

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The Touareg is one of Volkswagen's most luxurious models, featuring a very comfortable cabin with leather seats and soft touch materials.

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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.

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Volkswagen uses this style of multidirectional switch on the steering-wheel spokes, allowing control over the audio system and center display.

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The instrument cluster display not only shows navigation, but also has a phone, stereo, and trip computer display.

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The Touareg Hybrid gets eight gears in its automatic transmission, letting the engine more easily find its optimal running speed.

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This hybrid power animation shows the battery charge level, and when power is coming from the engine or the battery.

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This offroad display is window dressing for the Touareg Hybrid, as the vehicle is not built for serious off-road challenges.

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Volkswagen's new navigation system shows rich detail on its maps, including 3D rendered buildings and topographical terrain features.

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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.

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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.

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The navigation system integrates traffic data, showing it in this list format and overlaid on the maps.

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The Touareg Hybrid includes terrestrial and satellite radio, but does not have HD Radio.

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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.

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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.

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The phone system offers most modern features, such as contact list download and dial by name with voice command.

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Volkswagen's rearview camera is excellent, showing trajectory and distance lines.

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