Driving an SUV is tough these days. Some people look down on them for being too big and inefficient, and with the unpredictable price of gas, these vehicles can be expensive to operate. What is an SUV buyer to do? There are two solutions. The first, buy a smaller, more efficient vehicle that won't do everything you want or need. The more appealing choice, though, is to find a big SUV with the right power, size, and luxury that does it all on less fuel.
Taking a cue (and the technology) from Europe, Volkswagen is bringing its turbodiesel Touareg to North America. In Europe, diesel-powered SUVs are the norm. With the high price of fuel, the excellent economy and range afforded by diesel power allows people to go longer between fill-ups. Plus, the high torque serves up plenty of might to move a large vehicle and whatever is lugged behind it.
The Touareg itself, revised for 2008, remains the same; what's new here is the 3.0L diesel option. This V-6 is smaller than the first diesel offered in a Touareg (the fantastic V-10 with 310 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque), but that engine was big, expensive (a V10 TDI cost nearly $70,000), heavy, and only 45-state legal. While the 50-state-legal V-6 doesn't have the same shocking torque numbers, its 407 lb-ft of torque is more than enough to pull this vehicle along. Plus, the engine's smaller packaging will make it much easier to fit into smaller vehicles, and should cost significantly less to build than the V-10. Pricing for the new 3.0L hasn't yet been announced, but when it goes on sale in spring, we expect the MSRP to fall between the gas V-6 ($39,990) and V-8 ($49,590). The same engine will also be available in the Audi Q7 in early 2009.