2011 Volkswagen Touareg Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Test drivers say the 2011 VW Touareg performs better than ever. Thanks to this year’s redesign, the SUV is lighter, which means the base engine now has plenty of power. Plus, there’s a new eight-speed transmission and two green options: the carryover diesel model and the all-new hybrid. These models have some of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class.
- "Steering in both models is a touch loose, making for comfortable navigation of crowded city streets. The suspension is adjustable and quite agreeable, cushioning pockmarked roads, unpaved stretches and highways with ease." -- AutoWeek
- "The Touareg Hybrid with its Honda-style parallel system feels utterly natural, whether you're accelerating from a stop or coasting at speed." -- Edmunds
- "The Hybrid's features like stop-start and coasting were superb. As you brake to stop for a light, the engine shuts down and you roll to a stop on electric power. All systems are maintained, so power steering, brake boosting and the like remain on call." -- Autoblog
Acceleration and Power
The new Touareg Hybrid comes with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine that's paired with an electric motor. The powerplant makes a combined total of 375 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. The Touareg’s other two engines carry over from 2010. The base 3.6-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower, while the 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel makes 225 horsepower. All three engines are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Test drivers say all three engines have plenty of power, but they are most excited about the new hybrid powetrain. They say that the transition from gasoline to electric power is barely detectable. The hybrid even has the ability to “coast” after the engine shuts down. That means that all systems, such as power steering, continue working even when the Touareg operates solely electric power.
The EPA estimates that the 2011 Touareg with the 3,6-liter engine and eight-speed automatic transmission will get 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highwway. That's about average for the class. Volkswagen estimates the hybrid will achieve 21 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway, which is one of the highest ratings in its class. The diesel engine gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway.
In the Touareg’s class, you can easily find SUVs with better fuel economy than the base model. The Lexus RX 350 starts at about $4,000 less than the Touareg and has a much better 18/25 mpg fuel economy rating (incidentally, that rating matches the diesel Touareg’s rating, but the RX 350 costs $7,000 less than the Touareg TDI). You can even get better fuel economy than the Touareg Hybrid by opting for the Lexus RX Hybrid. It has a 32/28 fuel economy rating and starts at $8,000 less than the Touareg.
- "Transitions from gas to electric power and back are incredibly smooth with only a slight shudder as the clutch between the hybrid motor and transmission disengages and the V-6 fires back up. The transition is so seamless the average consumer probably won't ever notice it unless they are driving in complete silence on a perfectly smooth surface." -- Automobile Magazine
- "We sampled the two greenest versions: the hybrid and the diesel. And it's rare that we conclude that the hybrid is the true hot-rod of the range, but that's the case in the Touareg. The output is clearly evident, and launching and passing with force is no problem." -- AutoWeek
- "Aside from the hybrid option, there are two other engines available in the newly redesigned Touareg. …both are competent and have been enlivened this year by a new eight-speed automatic transmission." -- Car and Driver
- "Far more impressive than the drivetrain's engineering, is how smoothly it goes about its business. Around town, the shut down and restart of the gasoline engine is barely detectable--usually only noticeable at all when accelerating from a stop, where we found it typically occurred around 13 mph under normal driving." -- Motor Trend
Handling and Braking
Though some test drivers have criticized the Touareg’s ride quality as being overly heavy and firm in the past, that’s no longer a problem for 2011. Since it lost several hundred pounds with the removal of the permanent four-wheel drive system, the new Touareg is much more nimble. Reviewers have a few concerns about the hybrid’s touchy regenerative brakes, but say they’re actually pretty good for a hybrid.
- “In their regenerative function, [the brakes] are extremely touchy, requiring the utmost care to avoid a violent lurch on application. Unlike most other hybrids, though, once past the first couple inches of travel, the Touareg's offer decent feedback, and smooth application is possible with a light toe touch." -- Car and Driver
- "The brakes on the Hybrid model are fairly impressive thanks to aggressive regenerative braking that only engages when you depress the brake pedal, not while coasting. On non-hybrid models, however, the brakes were less confidence-inspiring with considerable pedal travel and less bite than you would hope for with this much weight to slow down." -- Motor Trend
- "With the loss of the air suspension -- which is tied to the 4XMotion and so won't be on any Touareg without the Terrain Tech package -- road feel returns to the level of a middle-premium SUV. Cornering isn't table flat, potholes knock a bit louder, and bad roads make a bit more fuss, but it is all still premium." -- Autoblog
The Touareg has lost its 4XMOTION permanent four-wheel drive system, and Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system is now standard on all models. While that means the Touareg weighs less and is more nimble, it also means the VW is no longer a capable off-roader. Though VW hasn’t yet confirmed it, reviewers say the Touareg will offer a Terrain Tech package that will allow it to conquer rougher terrain.
- “In general the second-generation Touareg is absolutely not intended for anything rougher than muddy, snowy dirt roads." -- Edmunds