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  • Highway 606 Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Executive

Highway 606 Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Executive

Exploring Virginia’s Mountains With Luxury and Engineering

Lazelle Jones
Feb 13, 2016
Photographers: Lazelle Jones
After tuning the radio to Willie’s Roadhouse on SiriusXM, we were ready to begin exploring the mountains of the Old Dominion State—Virginia. Our travels would include urban driving, poking around in pockets of provincial America, blue-line country back-roads, Allegheny Mountain foothills, and the twisting turning ribbons of pavement that run along the backbone of the Blue Ridge Mountains, also known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Off-highway opportunities would take us across and through fallowed fields laced with streams flowing down the Allegheny watershed, fields that are dotted with copious amounts of wild game. Our steed of choice would be the 2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI, and it’s here that its off-road capabilities would be called into service. Yes, Virginia’s mountain region would be the crucible where we would drive, enjoy, and garner impressions about the performance and creature comforts that Volkswagen’s largest SUV yields.
Suffice it to say the days spent, miles covered, places visited, and local folks engaged proved to be nothing less than an autumn delight. A grand slice of America that sits smack-dab in the middle of what is considered to be the cradle of our civilization, this corner of America, without equivocation, needs to be on everyone’s bucket list. The mountains of Virginia are not only visually appealing, they are peopled with friendly folk who host a rich ethos that’s unique to the hills and hollows tucked away and surrounded by Appalachia’s pristine beauty.
Photo 2/90   |   051 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Tdi Blue Ridge Parkway
The Touareg’s impressive spec sheet speaks volumes about the prowess and substance that make up the DNA of this German SUV. The Touareg TDI is equipped with a turbocharged 24-valve 3.0L V-6, common-rail direct-injection diesel engine, which develops 240 hp and yields 406 lb-ft torque. The torque curve is essentially flat and reflects a preponderance of torque being delivered at 2,000 rpm, plenty sufficient to tow the 7,716 pounds of trailered cargo this SUV is designed to pull. The dry weight is 4,919 pounds, and it has a gross vehicle weight rating of 6,305 pounds, giving it a passenger and cargo carrying capability of more than 1,000 pounds. This puppy flies from on-ramp red lights to freeway speeds in a heartbeat, leaving nothing to be desired when it comes to the matter of acceleration. However, these impressive performance indicators belie a softer, more genteel side of this sophisticated piece of mechanical genius.
There is little evidence that a diesel engine is powering this elegant, state-of-the-art SUV. Touch the start button and the engine instantly springs to life, and the fact that this is an internal combustion power plant that depends upon compression ignition is totally transparent to the end-user. Quiet, responsive, and powerful, the V-6 and eight-speed transmission instantly accommodate a broad spectrum of changing driving conditions. When required, seamless, on-the-fly transition from two-wheel-drive into four-wheel-drive (or back) is achieved by turning a center console mounted control switch.
Photo 3/90   |   064 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Tdi Blue Ridge Parkway
Over the 500 miles covered following refueling, the average fuel economy, as calculated electronically by the engine computer, was an impressive 28.8 mpg. This kind of performance is more than respectable and is appreciated each time you open your wallet and go for the plastic. The fuel economy figure included a broad spectrum of driving: interstate speeds, city and urban driving, charging up mountain passes, four-wheel driving, and stop-and-go motoring for photo ops. The fuel tank holds 26.4 gallons, which means the Touareg TDI boasts a driving range of more than 750 miles. You can slide in behind the wheel and drive, and drive, and drive, until another cup of joe is wanted or another need emerges.
Interior appointments smack of Volkswagen’s commitment to the luxury needs of the end-user, as well as their total and complete attention to detail. Top-grain leather dresses the seats that accommodate up to five adult passengers. Whatever Volkswagen has done to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness is working very well. In urban environments when rushing past slower traffic at freeway speeds, only a whisper can be heard inside, and grabbing visual data or quickly operating controls is intuitive.
Photo 4/90   |   053 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Tdi Blue Ridge Parkway
During this Virginia mountain odyssey, the folks at Bath County Visitors Bureau suggested that a good test of the Touareg’s road-ability would be to navigate a particular mountain backroad that’s innocuously labeled highway 606. Unsuspectingly, highway 606 begins after passing beneath an old railroad trestle at the west end of a little town called Clifton Forge. From here, the road weaves its way several miles through a tapestry of visual beauty that’s so typical of the Allegheny Mountains.
The topography of Virginia’s Highway 606 will remind those who remember of Turn 6 at the top of the S’s at the now long-gone Riverside Speedway and what a true road course looked like. Here, CanAm, NASCAR, and sports car clubs would come to test their skills as road racers, for back then, this was the holy grail of road tracks on the West Coast. Actually, highway 606 can be characterized as a whole series of esses that twist tightly to the right and then to the left while dipping down and rising up to meet new turns that seem to go on forever. In this setting, the Touareg TDI hunkered down, hugging and grabbing the pavement while charging up steep inclines only to find new challenges waiting at the end of each series of S-curves. Highway 606 is a Virginia byway that can be enjoyed by all car enthusiasts, be it the family who is out for a weekend drive or those who want a venue where their road-skills can be tested.
Highway 606 is just one of the many premier road trip opportunities that lace the mountains of Virginia, with the most recognized one being the Blue Ridge Parkway. One excellent road trip on the Parkway begins at Peaks of Otter Lodge, a mountain retreat that makes an excellent basecamp from which to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fall foliage here is spectacular. Park on the shoulder and walk into the woods. Listen to the sound made as you shuffle through the ankle-deep red and gold leaves that blanket the ground. It seems to be saying to those few leaves that cling tenaciously to the trees above, “Let go, it’s inevitable.”
Photo 5/90   |   084 2015 Volkswagen Touareg Tdi Blue Ridge Parkway
2015 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Executive Base Price: $42,705 (VR6 Sport)
Price as Tested: $63,860
Engine: 3.0L turbocharged V-6 diesel
Power: 240 hp
Torque: 406 lb-ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic transmission; 4Motion all-wheel-drive system w/self-locking center differential
Suspension: double wishbone front & rear independent suspension
Brakes: front/rear disc brakes w/ABS
Curb Weight: 4,919 lbs
GVWR: 6,305 lbs
Towing Capability: 7,716 lbs

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