is not a marque one usually associates with luxury, and so we admit to being somewhat skeptical about the new 2010 Touareg V6 TDI and not all that enthusiastic at first when the chance came to test it out. MotorTrend
changed our mind with its recent comparison
of diesel and hybrid luxury SUVs - amazingly, their pros all concurred that it outclassed more expensive models like the Mercedes ML320 BlueTEC, BMW
X5 and Lexus
RX 450h. Plus it's one of the most fuel efficient and cleanest SUVs in the world.
We had a chance to experience it firsthand on a recent jaunt to Washington, DC
and Annapolis, Maryland. The Touareg handled all situations with poise and equanimity, from navigating the city streets to an amazing dinner at Wolfgang Puck
's The Source, to finding the right marina in Eastport through the bay's backroads for some sailing
(the touchscreen GPS was a big help there). We could easily have kept on going, as the comfy interior with its wood and leather resembles in MotorTrend's words "a den in a ritzy Alaska fishing lodge" - or for our purposes make that the upstairs bar at the Annapolis Yacht Club.
Don't think that "diesel" means noisy and slow like those old Mercedes wagons of your youth. The Touareg TDI
is powered by a hushed 3.0L, turbocharged six cylinder engine that produces 225 horsepower and an impressive 407 lbs-ft. of torque. Tourque, we learned en route, is more important than horsepower in diesel engines. The TDI's torque gives it performance equal to the gas-powered Touareg V8 that's rated at 350 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque, to give you an idea. And whereas the latter has an EPA mileage rating of 13/18 mpg city/hwy, the TDI gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.