2011 Touareg Hybrid - the Best of the Breed
I sold my Lexus RX and bought the Touareg Hybrid. I wanted most power, and taller stance, more cargo space, and mostly the ability to pull a pop-up camper through the mountains of West Virginia. Yet I wanted to stay small enough for everyday driving, parking, and fitting into a garage. I read the reviews, drove all the comparable vehicles (Lexus LH, Toyota, Land Rover, Range Rover, Audi, Porsche), and affirmatively selected the Touareg Hybrid.
The Touareg Hybrid was VW's top of the line vehicle. It came with all the available options (US options - there were 2 European options I especially wanted but could not get: headlight washers, and a built-in phone SIM card with power amplifier for phone service in remote locations) and the dealer threw in mats, a cargo liner, and a paint protective coating film covering the front and mirrors. I have had the vehicle serviced at the Lindsay dealership where I purchased it and have received excellent service.
Buying the vehicle was a bit of a challenge. When I first started looking, I went to a dealership near my office and took a test drive. I was impressed and liked the sales staff. But they did not have a vehicle with the color and options I wanted. I appreciate that this was beyond their control, and they offered to search for one I wanted. They found one 750 miles away, said it would take a week or two for delivery, and there would be fewer dealer discounts (what amounted to a service charge). I left and went to drive a Land Rover. On my way home, I drove past my local dealer and saw the color Touareg I wanted (white). Expecting it to be a diesel, I nevertheless stopped in and found the Hybrid I wanted (minus the European-only available options). We negotiated and I bought it.
Six years and 120,000 miles later, it is still a fantastic vehicle. It runs sporty if I need it too (putting it into "S" mode), and economically otherwise (standard "D" mode). I get about 20 mpg in the stop and go suburbs, but can get about 24 if strictly city or strictly highway. When I am pulling the camper my mpg falls to 12 up the mountains (heading west) and 15 coming home. I have been through 2 sets (I am on my 3rd set) of tires, but original brakes and rotors. I use synthetic oil and get an oil change every 5,000 miles even though that is earlier than manufacturer recommended.
I bought the Touareg Hybrid because of the additional 20 hp electric motor it uses in "hybrid" mode. It make a huge difference. When pulling a load up a mountain, I can feel the additional horsepower kick in and when descending a long incline, I can feel the breaking action it provides (if used with cruise control - there is no way to manually engage it). I also like the beefed up suspension that comes standard with the hybrid (to support the battery), as it takes a fully loaded camper without a strain.
My wife appreciates the styling (and so do I), with heated seats both front and back, the 110 volt plugs (in addition to 3 easily accessible 12 volt power sources), and a music/dvd player that accepts 2 32-gb SD cards and has a built-in 32 gb memory. It also connects to satellite and integrates traffic information into the navigation system. The display is sharp and clear and provide navigation, audio, and vehicle information. I like the leather seats (easier clean-up when traveling with kids), and use floor mats (a must for an outdoors-type). I also like the heated steering wheel and side mirrors.
The cons include a navigation system that cannot be reasonably updated; the dealer said that their cost is $275-$300 which they would have to *fully pass on to me* since there are only a couple of hybrids using this particular navigation system and therefore they cannot spread the costs across several owners with each paying a portion. After doing this once in 2014, I have opted to use Google maps when driving anywhere with new construction, which is frequent since I am in Loudoun County, Virginia - one of the fastest growing places in the USA. The other con is the non-availability of features the car is clearly built to receive. The headlight washers ports are visible on the bumper, and the SIM capable phone power booster housing remains empty and unused. The dealer blamed US vehicles standards (????) for disallowing these, and said that while the physical mounts existed, the wiring harness did not support them, but since my Lexus RX has headlight washers, I am skeptical.
Overall, I rate the Touareg Hybrid "Excellent" because I have been very happy with it. It handles snow and off-road trailer pulling better than I expected; my favorite camping spot requires me to pull the camper through a creek, traverse an uneven rocky (I have been on 3 wheels!!) drive-path, and climb wet and slippery shale slopes before parking with sweat on my brow. The Touareg handles all of that bravely (impossible for the Lexus RX).