First Drive
One positive thing to emerge from soaring fuel costs in the summer of 2008 was the American public's willingness to consider alternative fuels. This gave Volkswagen the opportunity to introduce super efficient high mileage diesel engines over here, items that Europeans have held as commonplace for years. What many associate with an SUV, besides the ample seating space, is a large engine with loads of torque. The common side effect of loads of torque from a gas-burning engine, though, is usually poor fuel economy. With the new '09 Touareg TDI, Volkswagen has combined the torque from a gas V8 with fuel economy more readily associated with a four-cylinder.

The Touareg 2 TDI is the second vehicle Volkswagen has released utilizing 50-state-legal clean diesel technologies here in the U.S., and it won't be the last. By the end of 2009, VW will have a total of four diesel models in showrooms including the Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen and the Mk VI Rabbit. With such a variety of models available, VW will make owning a diesel vehicle that fits your needs easy.

The Touareg V6 TDI Clean Diesel is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged six cylinder engine that produces 221 hp and an impressive 407 lb-ft of torque starting at 1750 rpm. It is also unique to the U.S. market. Compared to its European counterpart the U.S. version has 19 fewer horses but has more torque at lower rpm. This isn't due to fuel quality or emissions; it's the driving style and demands of the American consumer. Volkswagen engineers found it necessary to reduce the size of the turbocharger to give the engine a power curve more suited to the varying road conditions found in the States. The benefit of using the smaller variable geometry turbo is how fast it spools, helping combat a decrease in low-end response experienced at higher altitudes and allowing the vehicle to produce peak torque at a measly 1750 revs. And while most consumers might not notice, the engineers wanted to make sure even the most discerning drivers would be happy.

Normally you don't associate heavy SUVs with Tier 2, Bin 5/ULEV II low-emissions standards, mainly because the heavier the vehicle, the greater the emissions. What makes the Touareg V6 TDI 50-state legal are major advancements in diesel technology. ADBlue, a 35 percent urea solution, is continuously sprayed into the exhaust stream right before the DeNOx catalyst. As the solution and exhaust gases enter the DeNOx catalyst, a chemical reaction occurs that splits the nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water, reducing NOx emissions by 90 percent.

The Touareg V6 TDI has also retained and advanced upon the safety features commonly associated with an SUV. It is equipped with a Prevent and Preserve Safety System (PPSS) consisting of more than 45 standard safety features designed to help drivers both avoid and survive a collision. Preservation features include anti-intrusion steel door beams, safety cage unibody construction, six airbags, and three-point safety belts with pretensioners on all outboard seating positions. While surviving a crash is critical, avoiding it is even better, so prevention features include an advanced tire pressure monitoring system, intelligent crash response system, massive four-wheel vented brakes, Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), and Anti-lock Braking System. In addition to the long list of standard features, optional HID headlamps and an ultrasonic rear-park assistance system are available to further enhance the PPSS.

The following may seem like an odd comparison, but it makes a point about the performance characteristics of the Touareg V6 TDI. From a dead stop, if you were to go head-to-head with a 2009 Jetta 2.5L automatic, from zero to 60 mph you'd be more or less dead even with an elapsed time of 8.5 seconds. The Touareg TDI's sprinting ability is quite impressive considering its 2,000-pound weight disadvantage.

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