Volkswagen's Touareg: Now A Clean Diesel Vehicle

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I rarely drive cars these days. But recently, Volkswagen convinced me to test drive their clean-burning Touareg TDI SUV. The test drive was to take place in Washington DC, which is about 30 miles from my home. This meant that I wouldn't have to fly anywhere, which was great. A couple of years ago, I decided that I would not fly, unless it was absolutely necessary.

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My Bike: A folding Dahon Jack

So my wife and I saddled up our bikes, and we biked from our house to the local bus station.

We secured our bikes at the station, and took a bus which spirited us away to a Metro station. Once there, we rode the Metro to DC. We exited the subway, and walked briskly to our hotel. Once there I was immediately swept up into Volkswagen's green lifestyle event.

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An organic meal at Wolfgang Puck's DC Restaurant "The Source"

We toured some of the greenest restaurants in DC, including The Source by Wolfgang Puck, and a restaurant on Capitol Hill called Sonoma. Both restaurants served delicious organic meals featuring many locally-produced ingredients.

We then took a challenge with Volkswagen's Touareg TDI. The challenge was to get the best mileage in the Touareg while driving from DC to Annapolis. I decided to do some serious hypermiling on the way. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn somewhere, got lost, and then decided to hit the accelerator. The on-board GPS came in handy. I came in second in terms of miles per gallon, with an average of 22 MPG.

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While at Annapolis, I switched to a 100% wind powered vehicle, namely, a sailboat. I appreciated the simplicity of sailing, and reflected on what a calming, green mode of transportation it is. Another nice feature of the sailboat was that it was run by a company whose offices are 100% wind powered.

I then car-pooled back to DC in the Touareg. This vehicle joins the Jetta TDI and the Jetta SportsWagen TDI in Volkswagen's clean diesel lineup. Clean diesel is a technology that actually lives up to its name pretty well. The dirty diesel-burning vehicles of the 1970s are no longer the norm. Today, 97% of highway diesel fuel pumps are now dispensing Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) — this greatly reduces the particulate matter emissions from diesel engines.

The Touareg has a diesel particulate filter to further reduce particulate emissions, and it has uses a NOx-storage catalyst, which is basically a reservoir that temporarily holds the noxious emissions, like a particulate filter, until they can be burned off during one of the engine cycles. Because of this, it is one of the first cars to qualify a Tier II Bin 5 vehicle (equivalent to California's LEV II rating), therefore allowing it to be sold in all 50 U.S. states.

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Link: Touareg TDI Website

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