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Driven: 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel achieves 28 mpg combined

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Clean diesel and the TDI moniker have become synonymous with Volkswagens Touareg luxury crossover SUV in recent years as more and more buyers opt for this fuel saving option. Today we found out why this engine is so desirable in the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg.

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Our 2014 Volkswagen Touareg Lux TDI tester at $55,885 is a mid-level trim grade between the base model and the top end Executive trim. It's outfitted with a cavalcade of luxury features and comforts that put it shoulder to shoulder with BMW's X5 and Merceded-Benz ML Class SUV.

On road handling is everything you would expect from a German luxury sedan. The Touareg offers up precise and well weighted steering on the highway as well as windy mountain roads. Suspension is supple in its action and tight in response, yet offers up a controlled smooth ride even on rougher surfaces.

In fact, our most impressive stretch of driving was over a washboard gravel road where the Touareg glided over the vibrations and ruts effortlessly. The structure and suspension was unsettled and solid in a way that outclasses many true off-road vehicles we have tested.

Even in our more challenging off-road tests, the Touareg impressed. With one front and rear wheel in the air, the off-road mode allowed for the ABS system to lock spinning wheels and enable escape. The off-road mode also includes a healthy hill-descent control which works exceptionally well.

The Touareg offers plenty of ground clearance as well as 26 degree approach and departure angles, and a 21 degree break-over angle. These numbers mean you can go further off-road than most in this luxury SUV may dare.

The option of the TDI engine is really an excellent match for this SUV when taken off-road and into the mountains too. Its prodigious torque pulls it up steep hills with little drama and need to sink your foot to the floor. It makes child's play of hard work.

The 3.0 liter V6 turbo-diesel engine delivers 240 horsepower and an astounding 406 lb-ft. of torque through a standard 8-speed automatic transmission. It has a delectable smooth purr at idle and under acceleration offers up a mechanically refined thrum.

The feeling of thrust in your back is immediate if you ask for power due to the fat torque curve, giving the Touareg spirited and fun performance potential.

At speed the engine is whisper quiet, giving now signs that it's any different from a gasoline model. The fuel economy rating by the EPA is 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. We achieved a combined average of 28 mpg with the Touareg, which is 5 mpg over the EPA combined rating of 23.

This talk of engines and performance all seems distant however from behind the driver seat where you are coddled in Vienna leather and highly polished burl wood. The cabin is one of the best, with fit and finish that gives nothing to its German rivals.

Controls are well laid out with all the functionality and feature content of the highest tech competitors yet remain easy to learn and use. The touch screen audio and navigation system gives passengers the right to program and search destinations even under way, a nice bonus.

The seats are power adjustable of course and the driver enjoys memory settings. The steering column tilts and telescopes but does so manually. Rear seats slide and recline offering up even your passengers a modicum of comfort range.

Our Lux model had the full size panoramic roof which opens up the cabin with natural light. In our week with the Touareg we never once regretted the warm glow from above. It just makes the interior feel so open and airy.

Features that make life with the Touareg nice include the power rear lift gate which opens and closes at the push of a button either from the dash or key fob. Additionally it can be opened by waving your foot under the rear bumper when you have the key in your pocket.

For us the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI shines bright with a total quality experience than runs the board from driving experience, power and fuel economy and interior bliss. The build quality as expected from Volkswagen is near perfect as is its overall design execution.

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