SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Here's a recipe for disaster in the auto industry: Introduce an all-new product in a segment you've never played in. Make sure it's got a name nobody can pronounce.

Just don't tell Volkswagen of America that's a mistake. The company is giddy about its first-ever cross/utility vehicle, the Touareg (Tour-regg).

First, let's clear up the name. It loosely means “free folk” and is derived from a nomadic tribe in the Sahara desert. It's still unpronounceable.

Once you get past that, VW's new CUV is a noteworthy vehicle, beginning with the basic engineering done in conjunction with Porsche AG, which developed its Cayenne CUV off the same platform.

The Touareg is priced significantly below its Porsche sibling, with the base V-6 version starting at $34,900 and the V-8 at $40,700. Porsche's V-8 Cayenne S starts at $56,665, a $15,965 premium over the Touareg.

The ride and handling is demonstrably better than most truck-based SUVs, although it would be a stretch to say the Touareg handles like a Passat or Jetta.

The Touareg's standard 3.2L SOHC V-6 produces 220 hp at 5,400 to 6,400 rpm, with a maximum torque of 225 lb.-ft. (305 Nm) at 3,200 rpm.

But the V-6 is stressed to move the 5,086-lb. (2,307-kg) Touareg uphill, or from a dead stop. The V-6 does deliver 15 mpg (15.7 L/100km) in city driving and 20 mpg (10.8 L/100 km) during highway driving, but Touareg's fuel economy — and weight, for that matter — is no better than truck-based midsize SUVs.

If performance is vital, one must opt for the V-8. The 4.2L DOHC unit develops 310 hp at 6,200 rpm and 302 lb.-ft. (410 Nm) of torque between 3,000-4,000 rpm. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport setting and the expected Tiptronic manual-shift ability.

This V-8/6-speed driveline moves the Touareg at a brisk pace and provides more than enough power to pass slow-moving traffic, while also allowing for some meaningful acceleration from a dead stop.

On the design side, the Touareg takes some of its front-end styling cues from the Passat and Phaeton luxury sedan and