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Volkswagen Touareg hybrid offers more than just fuel efficiency

March 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Today, car buyers can choose a hybrid vehicle priced anywhere from less than $20,000 to well more than $100,000.

Volkswagen's new Touareg hybrid falls right in the middle. Not just in price, but in size, features and efficiency.

Price-wise, it's in the premium range with a base price of $61,110 and tops the rest of the Touareg line by a wide margin. Essentially, it replaces the V8 Touareg the carmaker used to sell, which was known for gulping lots of gas.

Mileage is good for it being an SUV, but not spectacular at 20 mpg city and 24 highway. That's about 25 percent better than the V6 gas Touareg in the city thanks to the hybrid system's ability to glide along on electric power alone.

But even on the freeway, the system - shared with Audi and Porsche - can decouple the engine and essentially coast. When it's time to accelerate, the Touareg hybrid shines, offering eight cylinder grunt without the eight cylinder fuel economy.

Hybrids can save you money on gas, but how much depends on which hybrid you choose and what kind of car you trade in for it. A lot of people don't know that hybrids can save them money when it comes to vehicle maintenance, too.

Like most hybrids, that's how the Touareg saves fuel. When the engine isn't needed, it's off, whether it's stopped at a light or crawling slowly - situations when conventional vehicles get their worst economy.

The hybrid battery powers the electric motor and is recharged by the engine. But it's also recharged when you're slowing down or stopping. Pressing the brake pedal turns motion into power, so when braking, the drag produced by the hybrid system slows you down in most situations - not the actual brakes, which can last a long, long time on hybrids. The longer life of the brakes on a hybrid can really save you money in the long run.

If you're someone who likes their car to stay clean, hybrids don't tend to get that build-up of brake dust on the wheels either.


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