2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline
2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline
2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Of the 1,975 Touaregs VW sold in Canada last year, more than two-thirds of them were TDI (turbocharged direct-injection) diesel models. No doubt the Touareg TDI’s popularity has a lot to do with its excellent fuel economy when compared with equivalent gas models (our tester’s fuel economy display was showing a thrifty 9.2 L/100 km), but with its hefty base price of $53,975, fuel savings can’t be the only reason Touareg buyers prefer the diesel engine.

Performance and efficiency

Equally attractive, at least from our point of view, is its performance and efficiency. Though the Touareg TDI’s turbocharged 3.0L V6 diesel engine has just 240 horsepower, it provides a stump-pulling 406 lb-ft of torque starting at just 1,750 rpm; compare that to the standard Touareg 3.6L V6 gas engine with a maximum 266 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm. The turbo-diesel’s generous torque and throttle responsiveness is immediately apparent when pulling away from a stop light, entering the freeway, changing lanes, or powering up a steep hill.

According to the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, the Touareg TDI accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds; that’s pretty snappy for a 2,256-kg (5,060-lb) SUV and slightly quicker than the Touareg 3.6L V6 in 9.0 seconds. Like all oil-burners, the Touareg’s turbocharged diesel is not a high-revving engine so there’s nothing frantic going on under the hood. Assisting its low-revving nature is a superb 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts unobtrusively and keeps most gear changes in the 2,000 to 3,000 rev range. Low revs also contribute to the diesel engine’s surprising quietness, although I suspect there’s truckload of insulation and noise suppression materials under the bodywork: at idle, you hear a distant clatter; while accelerating it’s a low rumble sound; and on the freeway it’s almost inaudible with the engine revving at just 1,600 rpm — a far cry from diesels of the past.

2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline
2013 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Execline. Click image to enlarge

The Touareg TDI has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs) with a braked trailer, the same towing capacity as the Touareg 3.6L V6. Personally, I would have thought the diesel would pull more …

Official NRCan fuel consumption ratings (L/100 km) for the Touareg TDI are 10.8 city/6.7 hwy, but the more realistic EPA figures are 11.8 city/8.1 hwy/10.2 combined. That’s thriftier than the Touareg V6 with EPA ratings of 13.8 city/10.2 hwy/12.4 combined. After 1,569 kilometres, our tester was showing an average of 9.2 L/100 km. With its 100-litre fuel tank, you could potentially drive over 1,200 highway kilometres between fill ups.

The Touareg TDI’s fuel economy is comparable with luxury competitors such as the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro Tiptronic (12.4 city/8.4 hwy/10.7 combined according to the EPA), Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec (11.4 city/8.4 hwy/10.2 combined) and BMW 35d xDrive (12.4 city/9.0 hwy/10.7 combined) but hybrids like the Lexus RX450h (7.8 city/8.4 hwy/8.1 combined) and Toyota Highlander Hybrid (8.4 city/8.4 hwy/8.4 combined) lead the fuel economy race in the mid-sized SUV class.

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