The fact that the world’s first supercharged hybrid powertrain can be found in the 2013 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Crossover SUV makes this a very desirable vehicle. The hybrid gas-electric version headlines this lineup for a long list of reasons. It also happens to be the Touareg with the highest MSRP. An electric motor is complemented by a 3.0-liter V6 engine to deliver 380 horsepower and an unbelievable 428 pound-feet of torque. It even tows 7,700 pounds; a weight unheard of for a hybrid. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. While this model may be great for the environment, it is not necessarily doing your bank account any favors. Fuel-economy is still only mediocre at 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, which hardly offsets the higher price tag. Driving the Touareg Hybrid is an amazing experience, especially the first time. It is fast, powerful, composed and vault-like quiet. On the downside, due to the battery weight, it is heavier and does not feel as agile as others in the lineup. Plus, the grabby behavior of the regenerative brakes can be quite irritating.
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• Audio - Even the base stereo on this vehicle is superb. An eight-speaker touchscreen system includes HD Radio™ technology and in-dash six-CD changer. There is also an amazing 10-speaker Dynaudio premium system available with 620 watts of power and DSP technology. Both can play WMA and MP3 CDs.
• Navigation - Three-dimensional landmarks are the highlights of the touchscreen navigation system. Full color display and turn-by-turn navigation makes it easy to navigate to your destination.
• Speed Sensitive Volume Control - You will never need to fuss with volume controls to compensate for speed, wind and road noise. Speed sensitive volume control keeps it consistent.
• Hybrid System Interface - Enjoy an on-screen display of all hybrid system information. This allows you to monitor battery percentage, driving range and energy usage.
Crash tests have not yet been performed on the 2013 Touareg Hybrid; however there is no reason why it won’t be scored as well as last year’s model. Its predecessor was rated “Good” in front, side and roof-strength protection by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Features to offer peace-of-mind include:
• Reinforced safety cage
• Hardened steel B-pillars
• Side door beams
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Electric parking brake
• Intelligence crash response
• Electronic stability control
• Engine immobilizer
• Cornering lights
• Rear door safety locks
• Brake drying
• Whiplash protection system in front head restraints
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Child seat anchors
• Seatbelt pretensioners
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Emergency braking assist
• Post-collision safety system
• Traction control
• Turn signal mirrors
The exterior styling is simple, but there are a few points of interest that keep the vehicle from being overly boring. Chrome exhaust tips, squared LED running lights, horizontal chrome bars on the grille and intriguing headlamps are to be appreciated. Still, the vehicle could benefit from a nice “wow” factor.
It is nearly impossible to slip into the passenger cabin and not fall in love. Seating for five is granted with comfort and style. Front and rear seats offer plenty of legroom and the rear seat even slides forward and backward a full 6 inches. Although the rear seats are comfortable, it is the front passengers who are really pampered with plush yet supportive seating. Top quality trims make up every inch of the cabin and faux leather seating is so much softer and more pliable than real leather. Aside from the disappointing push start/stop system, drivers should be satisfied and impressed by controls and features. Knobs are all within reach and the navigation system is phenomenal.
The Touareg Hybrid does fall short of the competition in terms of overall cargo space with only 64 cubic feet. However, for daily use, 32.1 cubes behind the rear seat are more than generous.