New Car: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg

Speculation surrounding the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg and its corporate cousin, the Porsche Cayenne, has been that the two were going to cut some of their off-road capability in their redesigns, as it was widely derided as useless. However, as the Geneva auto show nears—and therefore the two vehicles’ public debuts—information is appearing to the contrary.

Like Porsche claims regarding the Cayenne, Volkswagen says the next-generation Touareg will be upwards of 400 pounds lighter in some trims—base models will be 460 pounds lighter. Although VW does not say from where that weight savings comes, Porsche has said the Cayenne will use aluminum for the doors, hood, fenders, and some suspension components. VW hasn’t confirmed it, but we expect the same is true for the Touareg.

We know the weight isn’t coming out of the off-road gear, as the Touareg will retain its almost whimsical degree of free-roaming capability. All-wheel drive—4Motion in VW-speak—will be standard, with uplevel models receiving an upgraded version called 4XMotion that includes a two-speed transfer case and locking center and rear differentials, as well a Land Rover–esque suite of off-road tech. That last bit will rely on a five-position rotary knob that, rather than tweaking settings specifically for different terrains, à la Land Rover, simply allows drivers to select the severity of their off-road excursions. Position one is on-road; position two is off-road, which optimizes the ABS and traction and stability control, as well as modifies the transmission shift points and activates hill-descent control. From there it gets serious. Position three shifts the transfer case into low range, position four locks the center differential, and position five locks the rear diff as well.

Nonetheless, practical concerns have not been overlooked with the 2011 Touareg. Fuel economy is improved across the board, thanks in part to the lighter weight, the smaller frontal area, a lower stance, and corresponding improvements to coefficient of drag. The newly standard eight-speed automatic transmission helps, too.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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