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 |  Jan 10 2012, 4:00 PM

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Building on the foundation of the S400 Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz chose this year’s North American International Auto Show as the place to unveil its (slightly) smaller E-Class derrivative.

Although Mercedes also plans to offer an E300 Hybrid that combines a 27 hp electric motor and battery back with a 2.0 liter four-cylinder diesel engine that develops 201 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque; that car is targeted primarily at Europe. In the US, which shows a preference for gas/electric hybrids, a direct injected V6 will be teamed with the electric motor system instead, resulting in the E400 Hybrid.

Rated at 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, in terms of fuel economy, Mercedes says the E400 Hybrid should deliver approximately 24 miles per gallon in city driving and 31 mpg on the open road.

According to Dr. Thomas Weber, who heads up Daimler AG’s passenger car development and research programs, the two E-Class Hybrids aim “to offer precisely the models which our customers want,” while providing “a clear reduction in fuel consumption as well as a very impressive driving experience.”

The E400 Hybrid is scheduled to arrive in US dealers during the second quarter of 2012, with deliveries expected to follow in other markets, notably China and Japan.

GALLERY: Mercedes E400 Hybrid

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 |  Nov 24 2011, 5:30 PM

Rumors have been circulating for a while that Volkswagen has been working on a three-row crossover. Now it has been officially confirmed by the Wolfsburg automaker.

The planned “Honda Pilot fighter” as Car & Driver puts it, should help bolster the appeal of VW CUVs amongst US buyers since the two-row Toureg is expensive and doesn’t fit the needs of the majority of shoppers in this segment.

In keeping with its current US market strategy of offering more spacious vehicles at lower prices, expect the new VW crossover, when it does materialize to be priced similar to the Pilot and the Ford Explorer, which should mean somewhere in the low $30k range.

As for engines, the most likely candidates will probably be VW’s 3.6-liter gas V6, with the 3.0-liter V6 TDI diesel a possible option. Given that this new SUV has obviously been designed primarily with the US market in mind, it will probably be built here too, at the firm’s new manufacturing complex on the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee, though Mexico remains another possibility.

Alongside the new three-row crossover, a VW exec has also reportedly said that the next generation Tiguan will also be conceived more with a US audience in mind; the current model, is seen by some as perhaps a little too “European” thanks to its compact dimensions, firm ride and GTi like driving characteristics.

[Source: Car & Driver]