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2012 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.0

Reviewers say the 2012 VW Touareg performs well for a luxury midsize SUV, and that the hybrid trim is the most performance-oriented of the three Touareg models. They say its transitions between gas and electric power are nearly seamless, and that it handles almost as well as more sport-oriented competitors like the BMW X5.

  • "Far more impressive than the drivetrain's engineering, is how smoothly it goes about its business.” -- Motor Trend
  • "The Hybrid is impressively quick while returning good fuel economy, though its $60K price tag is rather dear.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid comes standard with a supercharged, 3.0-liter V6 engine and an electric motor. Together, they make 380 horsepower, which is routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

According to the EPA, the Touareg Hybrid gets 20/24 mpg city/highway with its standard all-wheel drive. While that’s not Toyota Prius territory, it’s significantly better than the base Touareg’s 16/23 mpg rating with all-wheel drive, and better than most other SUVs in its class as well. Keep in mind that reviewers love the diesel-powered Touareg, which we’ve reviewed separately. The EPA estimates that the diesel only costs about $12 more per month in fuel costs, but doesn’t come with the hybrid model’s huge price premium. Because of this, test drivers say the Touareg TDI is the better value between the two.

Though test drivers appreciate the fuel-efficient diesel model of the Touareg, they absolutely rave about the Touareg Hybrid’s performance. Nearly every test driver notes that it’s possibly the smoothest hybrid system they’ve encountered, with no lurching or stalling when the gas engine turns on or off. They also appreciate the eight-speed transmission, which directs power more effectively than the continuously variable transmission that most other hybrids have. A few testers mention that they feel a brief hesitation between the time they push the gas and the time the car starts moving, though.

  • "Out on the highway, the only way to tell if the gasoline engine is on or off is to glance down at the tachometer, its engagement and disengagement from the drivetrain is completely unnoticeable.” -- Motor Trend
  • “Regardless of engine choice, the eight-speed automatic transmission's shifts are barely noticeable.” -- Edmunds
  • "After a very brief delay from a stop, the Hybrid takes off with authority. The gas/electric transition is virtually imperceptible. On all, the 8-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts and prompt response to throttle inputs.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "If speed is in sudden demand, the driver might notice a slight lag between pegging the throttle and getting full power, but the delay is no longer than it would regularly take for a transmission to kick down.” -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Test drivers love how sporty the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid is, though it’s still a far cry from its sibling, the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid. They say the Touareg Hybrid’s brakes feel more natural than the regenerative systems in many other hybrids, though a few mention that the brakes can be touchy and tough to use smoothly. More than one person mentions that the steering feel is a bit light.

The Touareg Hybrid comes standard with Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system.

  • “In their regenerative function, they 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
  • "Steering response is particularly sharp, though the effort level is perhaps too light for some tastes.” -- Edmunds
  • "Any Touareg has a stable, controlled ride. Sharp bumps intrude only on versions equipped with the 20-inch wheels. The Hybrid's extra weight helps keep down the impact of road imperfections.” -- Consumer Guide
  • “Though nicely weighted, the meaty steering wheel offers very little detail on the goings-on of the front tires. And while there's no dead spot on center, the steering feels a bit slow and the turning radius isn't anything to write home about.” -- Motor Trend

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