What Is It?
Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept
What's Special About It?
Following its best sales year in the U.S. since 1973, Volkswagen unveiled at the Detroit auto show a midsize crossover concept called CrossBlue that encompasses so many ideas it's hard to keep it straight. The concept is vectored directly at the U.S. market, said Ulrich Hackenberg, the VW Group's board member for technical development, as Americans are "increasingly displacing the classic minivan," with crossover vehicles.
There's little doubt this concept will turn into a production model. What gets a little confusing is where the CrossBlue fits in the VW lineup: the six-seat CrossBlue is sized uncomfortably close to today's five-seat Touareg, although the company says it actually is targeted below the "premium" Touareg. The CrossBlue's diesel plug-in powertrain (OK, maybe that's not going to be the launch drive system) alone likely would force the production model into the Touareg's premium-pricing category. So we're thinking the U.S.-only CrossBlue eventually replaces the current Touareg in much the same fashion that VW sells a large Passat here and a totally different and smaller Passat in other markets.
Although its unimaginative, squared body leaves us mostly seeing a crossover version of the U.S. Passat, the CrossBlue concept otherwise is immensely interesting. The car's two electric drive motors (one at each axle) and four-cylinder diesel team up for 516 pound-feet of torque and 305 horsepower, shoving this plump-looking Ford Explorer/Jeep Grand Cherokee competitor to 60 mph in a claimed 7.2 seconds. The point of the exercise: all this size and performance while delivering a 35 mpg combined or up to 89 MPGe in all-electric mode.
The 9.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack can propel the car in full-electric mode for up to 14 miles, but v-max potential is limited to 75 mph instead of the 127 mph available from hybrid operation. There's a 54-hp drive motor at the front axle that can team with the diesel engine and six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission for hybrid propulsion, but the 114-hp electric motor at the rear does the driving in electric-only mode. The rear motor also provides drive for all-wheel-drive situations, including when the driver intentionally selects the "off-road" driving mode.
There are special power-blending options with the CrossBlue's driveline. In the off-road mode, the electric motor at the front becomes a generator to power the rear-drive motor, with the TDI diesel driving the front wheels. The driver also can direct the engine to charge the batteries while it also drives the front wheels. There also is, of course, a mode in which both electric motors and the TDI combine for maximum acceleration in what VW calls "boosting" mode.
The CrossBlue concept is based on VW's new MQB transverse engine/front-wheel-drive architecture, which can cover a wide range of vehicle sizes and drive configurations. The company said that in addition to the six seats shown in the CrossBlue concept, a production version would offer a three-seat bench for the second row.
Inside, the center console in the CrossBlue concept has a floating layout similar to Volvo's current preference and houses a 10.2-inch touchscreen, while round knobs for climate controls, all-wheel drive and lights rise up from their flush resting positions.
What Edmunds Says:
VW is already pretty well set in the crossover space, but we're intrigued by this crossover with diesel hybrid power that VW claims will replace the minivan.
Base Price: N/A
Engine: Four-cylinder turbodiesel
Gearbox: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic
Electric motors: Front and rear axle
Power: 305 horsepower, 516 pound-feet
Fuel Mileage: 21 city/30 highway (2WD); 20 city/28 highway (4WD)
Dimensions: 196.3-inch length, 79.3-inch width, 68.2-inch height