In the earlier part of this millennium, hybrid versions of conventional vehicles were so obscenely priced that claims of savings could only be proffered at the pump.
We’ve come a long way. The Toyota Camry Hybrid costs $920 less than the Camry SE V6, and SE isn’t even the top Camry trim level. Ford’s new Fusion Hybrid costs $3000 less than the Fusion Titanium.
So what’s up with the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid? Its limited production status forces Volkswagen to charge too high a price. If the hybrid vehicle in an automaker’s lineup is going to be priced $15,130 higher than the basic version of the nameplate’s more efficient diesel (and $3400 higher than the top of the line diesel), what’s the point? No buyer in his or her right mind is going to buy that vehicle.
In fact, HybridCars.com says virtually no Touareg Hybrids find U.S. buyers. Through the first ten months of 2012, the hybrid was only worth 2.3% of all Touareg sales, just 0.05% of all Volkswagen sales, only 0.04% of all VW Group sales, and less than 0.002% of all new vehicle sales in America. For every Touareg Hybrid Volkswagen sells, 19 Touareg TDIs leave VW showrooms.
It’s not just the TDI’s more favourable pricing scheme that has buyers heavily favouring the diesel over the hybrid. The diesel Touareg is also the more efficient Touareg. The diesel’s miserly qualities are made all the more apparent when we consider the size of the Touareg TDI: 4974 pounds, 1724 pounds heavier than the outgoing Subaru Forester, a four-cylinder vehicle that uses more fuel on the highway. Volkswagen’s Touareg TDI is rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, enough for a combined rating of 23 mpg.
The Touareg Hybrid shares the TDI’s city rating but manages just 24 miles per gallon on the highway, something Lexus can achieve with its non-hybrid RX350.
Where’s the logic in spending more to save less?
Alternatives: Start with the obvious, Volkswagen’s Touareg TDI, and move through the Touareg V6 Executive to other VW Group options like the Audi Q7 and Good 12-winning Porsche Cayenne.
Base USD/CAD Price: $62,055 / not for sale in Canada
It Sucks, But… In general, the Touareg is a very nice vehicle, one which challenges buyers to reject the traditional use of a luxury badge while still acquiring a luxury vehicle. The hybrid Touareg also happens to generate more horsepower than the gas V6 or the V6 TDI.
Sales Stats: According to HybridCars.com, Volkswagen of America only sold 232 Touareg Hybrids in the first eleven months of 2012. Compare that to 4313 Touareg diesels during the same period. In total, the Touareg is a small part of VW’s U.S. output and a low-volume rival for luxury SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and mainstream SUVs like the Toyota Highlander.