DETROIT--Volkswagen, in its quest to understand and gain market share in the North American market, designed the CrossBlue concept specifically for the U.S. and Canada. VW calls it an SUV, slotting it in between the Touareg and the Tiguan, but it is much more than lineup filler. The CrossBlue not only boasts a diesel hybrid drivetrain, but can also be plugged in for better mileage. Its electric all-wheel-drive system is just icing on the cake.
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VW fitted it with LED headlights, a not-uncommon touch for concept cars these days, but also a feature that would make sense in a production version. LED headlights use substantially less electricity than conventional lamps, so they would increase the vehicle's electric mileage.
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The CrossBlue has a chunky front end, something VW designers thought would appeal to SUV-loving Americans. But its shape is certainly minivan-like, despite the lack of sliding doors. The best compromise would be to call it a crossover. The CrossBlue offers three rows of seating, with individual seats in each making it appropriate for six passengers.
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VW specifies a 190-horsepower diesel engine driving the front wheels, aided by its new eDSG, a new component combining the Dual Shift Gearbox automated manual with a 54-horsepower electric motor. In addition, the CrossBlue gets a 114 horsepower motor to drive the rear wheels, giving the concept four-wheel drive. VW rates the drivetrain output at 306 horsepower and a whopping 516 pound-feet of torque. However, acceleration is only estimated at 7 seconds to 60 mph.
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As is the fashion these days, the exhaust pipes are integrated into the rear trim. But with the concept's 9.8-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery, these pipes won't be emitting anything, at least for the 14 miles of electric range it gets. VW estimates its mileage at 35 mpg in hybrid mode and 89 mpg in electric mode.
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The third-row seats sit right between the rear wheels, and compromise the cargo area. However, these seats fold flat, giving the CrossBlue extra utility.
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The center touch screen, at 10.2 inches, sets a mostly buttonless tone to the CrossBlue's cabin. Instead of physical buttons, VW relies on touch buttons for many functions. There are still physical buttons for startup and switching between Sport and Eco settings.
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VW used an LCD for the CrossBlue's instrument cluster, allowing different displays for different driving modes. Metal rings set over the LCD help to make the speedometer and tachometer look like analog gauges.
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iPads, with secure holders, mount in the back of the front headrests, giving second-row passengers individual entertainment sources.
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VW fitted the CrossBlue concept with its Fender audio system, which produces excellent sound at an affordable price.