This guide shows features of the 2011-2013 Volkswagen Touareg hybrid explained, details of standard equipment, options, and a review of the Touareg hybrid vs. TDI.

The 2011 VW Touareg hybrid is Volkswagen's first production hybrid car for sale.  The all new chassis for 2011 lost about 458 pounds and gained an all new 8 speed transmission, a first for any real SUV.  They did a good job with the car but the problem is that the TDI engine is such a good match for the Touareg chassis.  Unique features vs. other hybrids include going up to 31 mph (50 km/h) on electric drive only, a 7,716 lbs (3,500 kg) tow rating, and true off road capability.  This is a real hybrid and at the same time, a real SUV.

This article contains more technical information than you'll find anywhere on the Touareg hybrid but some of the features apply only to European models.

Ordering guide for VW Touareg Hybrid

VW of Canada has 3 trim levels for the hybrid that follow their other Touareg trim levels.  In the US, there's only one trim level, the hybrid trim level.

US Touareg hybrid trim level ordering guide

19" "Everest" alloy wheels, 4motion AWD, KESSY keyless access, rear view camera with park distance control, Burr walnut interior trim, vienna leather interior, heated front and rear seats, heated leather MFSW, 12 way power front seats w/memory also on the power steering column and heated power side mirrors, metal scuff plates on the door sills, aluminum appearance pedals, panoramic sunroof, bluetooth, RNS850 GPS and car data system, 8 speaker single CD radio, media device interface w/ipod adapter, Sirius sat radio, HID headlights with LED DRL, front foglights, climatronic dual zone auto climate control, TPMS, homelink, and power liftgate.

The price for the 2011 VW Touareg hybrid is $60,565.

Canada Touareg hybrid trim level ordering guide

Note - VW Canada said they would bring the hybrid but as of Sept 2010, VW Canada has delayed the 2011 Touareg hybrid to 2012 with the VW Jetta hybrid to support proper volumes.

Comfortline (base) VW Touareg TDI:

4motion AWD, 18" "Tacora" alloy wheels, 8 way front power heated seats with manual lumbar (dvr and pass), auto headlights, wipers, and dimming mirror, Bluetooth, Climatronic dual zone auto climate control, stability and traction control, halogen headlights, front foglights, leather MFSW (see below for desc.), MDI w/ipod cable, four 12V (cig or radar detector) outlets and one 115V household plug, RNS850 GPS system, Sirius radio, tire pressure monitor system, and power liftgate.

Highline trim Touareg adds:

12 way front seats with power lumbar, 2 piece center armrest, heated, steering wheel, heated power rear seats, real burr-walnut wood trim, homelink, leather interior, memory driver's seat and mirrors, pano sunroof, power rear backrest release, KESSY keyless access (see below for details).

Exceline Touareg TDI adds

20" "Pikes peak" alloy wheels, sport suspension, dynaudio 620w stereo, manual rear sunshades, power adjustable steering wheel, park distance control, rear view camera.

All Canadian trim levels options: pano sunroof, tow hitch, or Sport package (20" "Pikes peak" alloy wheels, xenon headlights, and sport suspension).

Features of the 2011 VW Touareg hybrid explained 

Hybrid engine/powertrain: This combines the 333 hp, 324 lb-ft torque 3.0L supercharged engine originally from the Audi S4 with a 52 hp 99 lb-ft torque electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the 8 speed automatic transmission.   Peak combined power is 380 hp and 428 lb-ft.  The hybrid motor is the copper color thing behind the engine illustrated below.

The hybrid drivetrain has a few basic modes described below, which display on the RNS 850 GPS and info display.

-Start/stop: This shuts down the engine at stoplights.  Because the engine is off, some of the modifications to the stock engine you see above like the electric power steering pump, AC, and vacuum pump keep the car's system running as if the engine was still running.  When you start to move, the engine can run on electric only up to 31 mph or the engine will run in boost mode.

-Boost mode: This is the operation mode of accelerating with the gasoline engine and electric motor motor.  If the electric motor cannot provide the acceleration requested or if the car is over 31 mph, the gasoline engine will start and provide additional power.  The maximum available power in this mode is 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque.  As you can see, the torque curve is very flat because of the electric assist at low engine rpm which means there is always plenty of power available.

-Electric only acceleration and driving up to 50 km/h (31 mph): in this mode, the car propulsion comes only from the electric motor.  The gas engine is off and decoupled to avoid parasitic drag.  The electric only range is about 1.2 miles.  While this isn't exactly usable for your commute unless you could have walked there, it will find very good use when in stop-go conditions.

-Coasting up to 160 km/h (99 mph): as soon as you lift off the gas pedal at any time, the engine is decoupled to avoid drag.  This is like holding the clutch pedal down on a manual transmission car except that the engine is off.

-Battery regeneration: when you press the brake pedal, the electric motor becomes a DC generator and charges the hybrid battery.  The engine may also charge the battery.

8 speed automatic transmission: This transmission, the Aisin model 0c8, is the first 8 speed auto transmission in any SUV in North America and is used across all Touareg and Audi Q7 (the European Range Rover diesel also gets an 8 speed transmission for 2011 but I'm not sure which one).  Vs. the old 6 speed auto, it's a little bit lighter and adds 2 double overdrives (ratios shown below) - this means they are used on the highway to put the engine at a lower engine rpm.  To calculate the engine rpm at a given speed, enter the gear ratios below with your tire size in 1000q: wheel, tire, and gearing calculator.  The transmission is rated for up to 627 lb-ft of torque.  The gear ratios and operation are the same as the gas non-hybrid Touareg but it has an adapter for use with the hybrid module.  It also has other parts unique for operation while the engine is shut off.  As a side note, the old 09d 6 speed was also made by Aisin in Japan.

gear 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 final
ratio 4.97 2.84 1.864 1.437 1.21 1.0 .825 .686 3.273

Touareg smart keyless access, aka KESSY

This unlocks the doors if you pull on the door or liftgate handle and if the key fob is within about 5 feet of the car.  Once inside the car, the start button is enabled.  This permits car entrance and engine start without touching the key.  Below is a demo video.  It's in German but you can figure out what's happening.

Multifunction display and steering wheel:  Shown right are examples from the 7" 15:9 aspect color display that you control with the steering wheel.  Information displayed on the screen includes GPS data, lane guidance for the GPS, car trip computer information, radio station/track, telephone information like the phone book, or air suspension status (if equipped).

Dynaudio Confidence system:

Reviews of Dynaudio's work on VW are all very good.  The 620w system's equalization is tuned specifically for the Touareg interior with twelve speakers and a twelve channel amplifier.  The center two-way channel uses a 50 mm tweeter and 100 mm midrange.  The front doors have a three-way 60mm tweeters, 100mm midrange speakers, and 200mm woofers.  The rears seats have a two-way 60mm tweeter and 1 midrange/bass speaker.   You also get Dynaudio badges on the door speaker grilles.  Reference at dynaudio.

Comfort seats: These are optional vented seats (they are also heated).  The vents are along the seat bottom and back cushions.

Safety: TPMS (tire pressure monitor), ABS, ESP (electronic stabilization program: stability, yaw, and traction control), front, side, and head curtain airbags are standard.

RNS 850 GPS navigation and display

The RNS 510 GPS system is the standard radio head unit and GPS system on Touareg.  The 8" color touchscreen displays GPS information, hybrid status like charging or regen mode operation, the electronic oil dipstick, battery charge, or DVD video (when the car is stopped).  It runs off a 60 gigabyte hard drive which can store 18 gigabytes of music from an mp3 CD or the two SD card slots.  It cannot rip music directly from an audio CD.  European units have DAB stereo.

Some highlights include the 3D map with terrain and landmark display in the digital terrain model.  You can select 2D map mode as well.  The GPS function accepts voice commands as one sentence instead of having to enter the house number, street, city, etc. all separately.  Below are some demo pics of the system.
RNS 850 GPS system Touareg

The main complaint with the RNS 850 display is that when in map view, viewing the music screen takes you away from map view.  Some manufacturers like BMW have extra wide screens that split the display.

The ipod adapter MDI (Multimedia Device Interface) is in the glovebox.  You can buy additional adapters for mini USB, 3.5mm aux-in, etc.

Backup camera: In addition to the basic camera function, there are guide lines that move with the steering wheel.  This is really handy for hooking up a trailer.  A demo is shown below.  The video is from the partner site, the Audi and VW TDI forum.

Panoramic sunroof size and operation on Touareg:

This is 2 pane sunroof measuring 57.2 x 39 inches (1452 x 990 mm).  The front pane tilts or slides over the fixed back pane.   The back pane reaches behind the rear seats so it really opens up the feeling of the car.  The electric sunshade covers the entire sunroof and operates independently of the sunroof so you can retract it to let in light with the sunroof closed or close it with an open sunroof to block the wind.  Below is a demo of how it works on a VW Sportwagen (it'll be the same on the Touareg).

See page 2 for the cornering HID headlight demonstration, 4x4 features, tow rating, differences between European and North American Touareg hybrid, and VW Touareg hybrid vs. TDI comparisons.