Volkswagen's Touareg has always been respected as a fine-driving SUV, offering decent on-road manners, extremely capable off-road worthiness and a h cabin. But its downsides, which include the lack of a third-row seat, excessive weight, poor fuel economy and a relatively high price, have left it a bit behind the curve, especially compared to the current crop of crossovers — this, despite a significant redesign for the 2008 model year.
In an attempt to correct many of these faults, VW will unleash a heavily revised Touareg for the 2011 model year. Although it's not easy to tell from the prototype seen here, which features heavy disguise on the front and rear, we're told the Touareg will gain a few inches in length to finally accommodate a third-row seat and seven passengers. It also appears the new Touareg will boast sportier styling front and rear, with a revised grille and fancier headlights and taillights.
Although the new Touareg is longer and wider, sources tell us VW's other goal is to take somewhere in the neighborhood of 250–500 lb. out of the vehicle in an attempt to greatly improve its fuel mileage (currently at 14/20 mpg city/highway for the 3.6-liter 280-bhp V-6; 13/18 mpg city/highway for the 4.2-liter 350-bhp V-8 and 17/25 mpg city/highway for the 3.0 TDI V-6 turbodiesel). The Touareg will share its platform (as it does currently) with the next-generation Porsche Cayenne. Increased use of aluminum will shed much of the weight, but there's also talk that VW will address the Touareg's heavy all-wheel-drive system, by either making it optional and/or using lighter, less off-road-worthy components.
Speaking of fuel mileage, there's also talk that a hybrid drivetrain will be part of the mix for 2011. The next-generation Volkswagen Touareg should start production sometime after mid-year 2010, as a 2011 model.