- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2009

Volkswagen has done away with the Touareg’s big engine for 2009. The V-10 with 310 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque is gone. In its place is a much smaller V-6. The reason? The V-10 was big, expensive and only 45-state legal.

Volkswagen’s new Touareg V-6 TDI has joined an exclusive club of the most fuel-efficient and cleanest sport utility vehicles in the world. The Touareg V-6 TDI is part of a new generation of low-emission diesel SUVs and reinforces Volkswagen’s reputation as a developer of clean-diesel technology.

The 2009 Touareg TDI is powered by a 3.0L, turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine producing 225 horsepower and a whopping 407 lb.-ft. of torque. Using an advanced catalytic converter system, it meets Tier 2, bin 5/ULEV (ultralow-emission vehicle) II standards and will be available in all 50 states. The Touareg TDI is one of several new SUVs to have this advanced type of catalytic converter on board. Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz joined forces to develop the advanced catalytic converter system.

The exhaust nitrogen oxides, or NOx, are reduced in a catalytic converter using a urea solution known as AdBlue, which is stored in a tank located under the spare tire. The solution is continuously sprayed into the exhaust gas stream upstream of the catalytic converter. The quantity is precisely controlled by the engine management system, based on data from a downstream NOx sensor. In the catalyst, the urea reacts with the nitrogen oxides and converts them into nitrogen and water, reducing NOx emissions by up to 90 percent.

This V-6 TDI should deliver 17/25 mpg. For comparison, the gasoline V-6 engine gets 14/20 mpg and the V-8 is rated at 13/18 mpg. The Touareg TDI V-6 doesn’t sacrifice performance; a 0-60 mph sprint should take about 8.5 seconds.

The EPA has stringent rules regarding the use of AdBlue, because letting the onboard storage tank run dry would allow the engine to produce unacceptable levels of NOx. The tank holds enough AdBlue to last well beyond 10,000 miles so the tank can be replenished at regular 10,000-mile oil-change intervals.

Since this emission system is fairly complicated and requires regular maintenance, it prompts one to ask why the new Jetta 50-state diesel does not require it. According to VW engineers, it all comes down to money. The Jetta catalytic converter uses several very expensive noble metals to reduce both NOx and hydrocarbon emissions.

The Jetta four-cylinder diesel engine is relatively small and its catalytic converter uses a relatively small amount of noble metal with an acceptable cost. Larger engines obviously would require larger converters, which would use larger amounts of noble metals, but the cost would be more than that of an AdBlue system.

Other engine improvements contribute to the Touareg TDI’s improved fuel economy. With a new 29,000 psi high-pressure pump design and piezo fuel injectors, the fuel-injection process is even more precise and dynamic, a major factor in the engine’s fuel efficiency.

The 2009 Touareg TDI interior has an environment that is visually pleasing, modern and carefully detailed. High-quality materials, pleasant-to-the-touch low-gloss surfaces and trendy colors are combined with first-class fit and finish.

The interior also follows Volkswagen’s traditional design philosophy that form follows function. The instrument cluster with its optional colored display screen provides a wealth of information and customization for real drivers.

Luxury seating with a standard 12-way power driver’s seat makes it easy to find just the right seating position for optimum driving comfort. Individual controls are intuitively grouped and incorporate manageable buttons and controls, with a compact center console that includes a dual-zone temperature-control system.

Like all Volkswagens, the Touareg TDI includes the Prevent and Preserve safety system, consisting of more than 45 safety features. As standard equipment, the Touareg TDI includes six airbags (dual-stage front; dual front-side thorax; and side curtains), seat-belt pretensioners at all outboard seating positions and three-point safety belts with emergency locking retractors at all seating positions, as well as load limiters in the front. An advanced tire-pressure monitoring system also is standard equipment, as is an intelligent crash-response system. The Touareg TDI comes equipped with the electronic stabilization program.

Prices range from a bare-bones Touareg V-6 at $39,300, $42,800 for the V-6 TDI, to $48,900 for the V-8.

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