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VW's Touareg TDI packs a punch

HOWARD WALKER Special sections correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 07:06 AM

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We love SUVs. Love their versatility, their flexibility. Love their up-in-the-sky driving position. And their ability to swallow more stuff than a PODS storage unit.

What we love less is their typically lousy fuel economy, and the feeling that when steering into a parking space, you're docking the Exxon Valdez.

Want all the pluses and none of the minuses? Take a spin in Volkswagen's latest Touareg TDI.

OK, so it has the dumbest name since the Nissan Cedric. But this five-seat load-hauler is perfectly-sized, beautifully-built and drives like its spends its days working out at the gym.

Much of its considerable appeal is down to the hyper-efficient turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 diesel under its hood.

This thing has more muscle than a Port of Tampa tugboat. More muscle than Charlie Sheen in "Hot Shots! Part Deux."

For the techno-minded, this ripped and toned TDI delivers a honking 407 pound-foot of torque. Trust me, it's a lot. If you tow a boat, it's going to haul it up the Sunshine Skyway incline as if it's towing a nine-foot Jon boat.

The other bonus of TDI power is fuel economy. On the highway, the Tour-egg, no Twaar-reg, will average an excellent 25 mph to the gallon. Even around town it'll turn in 18 mpg.

Head out on a road trip, and its 26 gallon tank will theoretically give you 650 miles between fill-ups.

That's Tampa to Miami ... and back, on one tank.

And it drives wonderfully, with that towering, instant-on, mid-range thrust that a good turbo diesel delivers. Passing? Just see the gap and go. It's spookily quiet too.

Prices kick off at $45,150, which is around $3,500 more than the limp V6 petrol version. But remember you get a $1,150 tax credit for choosing a diesel. And a much better re-sale value.

I love this SUV. It's a "gas" without having it in the tank.

Tampa-based auto writer Howard Walker can be contacted at walkweb@verizon.net.

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