DETROIT -- Looking to fill a key hole in its U.S. lineup, Volkswagen on Monday unveiled a crossover SUV concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
Dubbed the CrossBlue, the vehicle foreshadows a production crossover that Volkswagen will likely bring to the U.S. market in 2014. That vehicle is to come in six- or seven-passenger configurations and target other family crossovers such as the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango and Nissan Pathfinder.
The CrossBlue concept is a plug-in hybrid diesel with two electric motors. Total output is 306 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque; power is routed to all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. VW says this concept is estimated to do zero to 60 mph in seven seconds.
The turbocharged diesel motor makes 190 horsepower. It's paired to two electric motors; one routs 54 horsepower to the front wheels, while another pushes 114 horsepower to the rear wheels. The CrossBlue concept can also use the rear motor to run on electric power alone for up to 14 miles, VW said.
The CrossBlue concept's exterior dimensions are within inches of others in the seven-passenger SUV segment, and the concept has features such as a foldable third-row seat and a middle row of seats that slide forward for easy access to the rear seats.
Though the CrossBlue concept is a plug-in hybrid diesel, expect the production model to be powered by a gas-powered engine. However, given that diesels accounted for 20% of Volkswagen's sales in the U.S. for 2012, expect a diesel engine to be offered at some point in this vehicle's lifespan.
VW is aggressively pursuing the global sales crown by 2018, and a volume crossover SUV would certainly help boost sales in the U.S. Ford sold 158,344 Explorers in 2012.
VW already sells two SUVs in the U.S.: the compact Tiguan and the midsize Touareg. Sales of these models in the U.S. are expected to continue, as they're premium entrants in their respective segments. The CrossBlue would seek to capitalize on the reputation of those models but sell in much higher numbers.
VW has had plenty of recent success selling high numbers of cars such as the midsize Passat and the compact Jetta to consumers who anticipate a more premium product from a German automaker.