The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid powerplant marries an Audi-built, supercharged 3-liter V6 and an eight-speed automatic with a disc-shaped electric motor mounted internally. Electric energy is stored in 155 pounds worth of nickel metal hydride battery pack stored under the rear cargo floor.
The 2011 VW Touareg Hybrid is a full hybrid, capable of traveling up to one mile—and at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour—in all-electric drive mode. Total output will be a 380 horsepower and a maximum 428 pound-feet of torque. The Touareg’s Hybrid setup also features a coasting capability that disengages the engine from the transmission when the driver releases the gas pedal when traveling at high speeds.
Klaus Bischoff’s VW design team has tweaked and toned the original 2003 Touareg. They’ve extended the wheelbase, won a bit of legroom in the back, and have honed the lines and bodywork with a sleek, athletic look. The only bits of bling are the ridiculous LED daytime running lights, but fortunately you can’t see those when you’re driving.
The console also holds a dial with on- and off-road settings. The Touareg Hybrid comes standard with four-wheel drive, a completely automatic system that defaults to a 40 percent front-60 percent rear torque split. But switching it to off-road mode merely adjusts the traction control and drivetrain programs; the Touareg Hybrid's conventional suspension sits at a fixed height.
Going over rough country roads, the car felt very capable, absorbing big bumps easily without too much cabin rocking. Volkswagen says the Touareg Hybrid has a ground clearance of 7.9 inches and can ford water to a depth of 19.7 inches. Driving through some sections of flooded roads created by recent California storms, the Touareg Hybrid plowed through, sending water spraying off to the sides.