Far from being a simple update of the first-generation model, the new VW Touareg has been thoroughly re-engineered. Among the more significant changes is a decision to dump the Touareg’s complex dual-range transfer case as standard equipment (instead it will be optional), a move that reduces the weight of this sport-utility by about 400 pounds.
Much like other recently introduced Volkswagen models, the Touareg’s steel body adopts an edgier look with tauter surfacing, more defined feature lines and squared-off wheel arches. The front is characterized by VW’s latest corporate grille, while the rear updates the look of the old model with a large single-piece tailgate carrying distinctive LED-enhanced taillights.
At 189.0 inches long, 76.0 inches wide and 67.3 inches high, the Touareg has grown in length by 1.7 inches while retaining the same width and height. It rides on a 114.2-inch wheelbase (1.7 inches longer) and sits 0.7 inch lower.
The increased exterior dimensions have improved the first-generation’s Touareg’s poor interior packaging and limited versatility. While seating remains restricted to five, Volkswagen says accommodation has been improved both up front and at the rear.
Four engine choices are available, though not all of them will make it to the U.S. The direct-injection 3.0-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, while the 3.0-liter turbodiesel makes 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. A new 4.2-liter V8 turbodiesel replaces the former 5.0-liter V10 turbodiesel and makes 340 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, but unfortunately it’s not coming to America. In its place, Volkswagen is expected to offer U.S. buyers a revised version of the direct-injection 4.2-liter V8 with 366 hp and 328 lb-ft of torque.
The big news, however, centers on a new gasoline-electric drivetrain that Volkswagen has developed in cooperation with Porsche. The German carmaker’s first ever production hybrid uses an Audi-built supercharged 3.0-liter V6 supplemented by a battery-powered electric motor mounted within the transmission to provide a combined 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. (It uses a nickel-metal hydride battery.) VW claims the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid will accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 149 mph.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment in place of the former six-speed, and it sends power to all four wheels via a Torsen-type drive system similar to that featured by the Audi Q7. As part of Volkswagen’s efforts to reduce the weight of its new SUV, the more complex Haldex-built center differential with its fast-acting multiplate clutch, dual-range transfer case and electronic locking differentials now will only be offered as part of an optional 4XMotion off-road package on selected models.
Inside Line says: Volkswagen finally realizes that Americans don’t need to drive across the red rocks of Moab, Utah, on the way to the grocery store. — Andreas Stahl, Correspondent
Inside Line, February 2, 2010