High output of US refineries have done little to stave off rising gas prices, and gas-guzzling SUVs are typically hit the hardest at the pump. Volkswagen hopes to quell fuel economy anxiety with the CrossBlue electric hybrid concept, a six-seater with the fuel economy of a compact and the power of a V-6.
Unlike most plug-ins such as a Toyota Prius that run on unleaded fuel, the CrossBlue is a diesel hybrid, which gets 85 mpg-e with an all-electric range of 14 miles; combined with the diesel powerplant, that range stretches to 661 miles for a fuel economy rating of 35 mpg. Typically such fuel-sipping figures come with tepid performance, but the 305-horsepower CrossBlue can move from 0 to 60 in 7.2 seconds, thanks in part to a coefficient of drag of 0.26—quite the engineering feat considering its broad, upright profile.
The style falls in line with Walter de Silva's other understated designs, such as the midsize Passat and the brisk-selling Jetta. But at odds with its minimalist aesthetic are blingy 21-inch wheels wrapped in 235-width tires, which provide a more athletic stance than your typical soccer mom's crossover SUV.
Although its hulky design is sufficiently supersized for an American audience, diesel powerplants still haven't garnered mainstream acceptance—and the CrossBlue also needs to pass stringent California emission requirements, too. Hence, it may take more than impressive figures to charge up consumer interest stateside.