Volkswagen, as we all know, translates from German as “the people’s car”. Indeed, it was on these principles that the company was founded, in order to produce sensible transportation that the average German (and later, the average global buyer) could afford. Historically, the company has done well selling affordable cars filled with value, like the Jetta or the GTI. They haven’t done well on the upper tier of the price scale, since neither the Passat W8 nor the Phaeton could be considered a sales success.
I’ve always liked the VW Touareg, but I also considered it too pricey for the content. The original Touareg turbodiesel, for example, packed a five liter, V10 engine under the hood. It only made 309 horsepower, but it cranked out over 550 ft lb of torque at 2,000 RPM. Its downfall, aside from tighter emission regulations, was its cost: in 2004, it carried a base price of $57,800. Even standard models started at around $35,000 for the V6, but could easily top $50,000 if you opted for the V* and a few option packages. That’s a lot of money for a people’s SUV.
It looks like VW is again pricing the 2011 Touareg beyond the reach of the masses, especially in hybrid form. The Touareg Hybrid, Autoblog tells us, will sticker at $61,385 before you begin adding options to it. Sure, that’s 10% less that the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, but no one expects a Porsche to be sensibly priced. Worse, the fuel economy of the Touareg Hybrid isn’t all that great: VW is claiming 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, so it’ll take a significant amount of miles before fuel savings pays back the $20,000 premium for the hybrid drivetrain.