You may know the VW Touareg as an off-road capable midsize SUV, and you would be right. Its 4Motion permanent all-wheel-drive system is optimized for either on-road or off-road use with adaptive torque distribution. The Touareg is one of the few SUVs with the turbo-diesel engine option, but the number of competitors is growing. It’s also the only Volkswagen currently on sale in the United States that combines AWD traction and TDI power. Still, diesels are known for their efficiency. So, how does the 2015 Touareg TDI serve on a 480 mile road trip across Colorado and New Mexico?
The 2015 Touareg lineup receives a facelift in the form new headlights, grille, and front facia. There also new LED lamps in the back. The new headlights have design elements that connect into the horizontals bars of the grille. Why is this important? Well, it’s foreshadowing the new design language that will appear on the production VW CrossBlue crossover and all Volkswagens that follow. Check out the Sport Coupe GTE Concept that made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.
Getting back to the matter at hand. The Touareg TDI is still powered by the trusty 3.0L turbocharged V6 TDI. This 24-valve double overhead cam power plant delivers 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm via an 8-speed automatic transmission. This output is typical for a diesel of this size. However, VW refined the system for smoothness and quite operation in any circumstance. The usual diesel clatter at idle is virtually eliminated. There is no perceptible engine noise at highway speeds or around-town driving. Put your foot down, and the Touareg responds with a muffled grunt to easily whisk you away. You can really feel the torque by the seat of your pants.
If you still concerned about diesel exhaust smell, the don’t be. There is no smell to speak of. By the way, the dual exhaust tips stylishly fit into the lower facia at the back.
This road trip is one of the routes we have done before. It takes us from Denver, Colorado to Albuquerque, New Mexico and back. The one-way trip is around 480 miles long. The majority of the route has a posted speed limit of 75 mph, and the elevation varies between 4,900 and 7,500 feet above sea level. The Touareg was loaded with four people and belongings for the weekend. Temperatures varied between 48F and 75F and Touareg’s HVAC system was set to “auto” to maintain 71F in the cabin.
It must be said how quiet and comfortable the Touareg is on the highway. It may be a cliche, but it’s obvious that this crossover was meant to cruise the autobahn at speeds far above 75 mph. The aerodynamics and cabin isolation combine for one of the quietest cabins at 75 mph that I have sampled. The driver seat is also comfortable enough to make a seven hour trip more than doable. This is one excellent long distance cruiser.
This Sport model did not come with VW’s latest driver assistance technologies or a sunroof. However, this helps control the price at $53,155. The Touareg TDI competes directly against the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel and several other German rivals, such as the: BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-class (aka. GLE-class), and Audi Q5.
The Touareg went 481.7 miles between fill-ups on 15.927 gallons of diesel. The simple calculation shows 30.24 MPG on the highway.
The EPA rates the Touareg TDI at 20 MPG city and 29 MPG on the highway. I expected the highway number to more than 30 MPG as turbo-diesels prefer steady-speed cruising. However, averaging near 75 MPH can take a toll of fuel economy. Also, this TDI’s curb weight is 4,919 lbs and permanent all-wheel-drive do not help.
Still, averaging just over 30 MPG on the highway in a roomy all-wheel-drive SUV is nothing to complain about.
Take a look at the Touareg TDI windown sticker 2015-VW-Touareg-TDI-monroney
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2015 VW Touareg TDI Sport a Buy it! It made the long road trip easier and more enjoyable.
Check out this classic TFLcar off-road video with the 2014 Touareg TDI.