It's clear that diesel power is on its way back toward widespread popularity, as many new cars have added diesel variants in the last few years. The Audi A6 is one such car: For 2014, the midsize luxury sedan has added an available 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that's good for 240 horsepower and a whopping 428 lb-ft of torque. So how is the new engine? We spent a week driving the 2014 Audi A6 TDI to find out.

Excellent Powertrain

In a word, the new engine is great. In fact, it's hard to describe just how much we enjoyed it, so we'll start by letting statistics do the talking. With its turbodiesel V6, the A6 travels from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 5.5 seconds, a lightning-quick time that's just a few tenths off of the gas-powered A6 3.0T's time. But impressive performance isn't its only trick: The turbodiesel A6 also earns an impressive Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of 24 miles per gallon in the city and an economy-car-like 39 mpg on the highway. We personally observed an easy 32 to 36 mpg in mixed driving, which is tremendous for a car that performs this well.

But the A6's 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 is about more than just the numbers. We also found it surprisingly smooth, with little of the diesel clatter that you might be familiar with if you've driven older diesel-powered cars. Acceleration is excellent, largely due to the sedan's impressive torque, and the 8-speed automatic transmission was so quick to shift gears that it satisfied even die-hard manual-transmission lovers on our staff. From behind the wheel, it's hard to imagine drivers interested in an A6 who wouldn't choose the diesel.

Expensive, but Worth It

Many times, premium pricing stops drivers from opting for a more powerful or more efficient engine, and we could certainly see that being the case here. After all, a base-level A6 equipped with the sedan's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine starts at around $45,000 with shipping, a far cry from the diesel's $59,000 base price.

But we don't see the A6 TDI as a competitor for the 4-cylinder A6. Instead, the A6 TDI lines up with the A6 3.0T, which starts at $57,000. Compared to that model, the diesel is a relative bargain, considering its similar acceleration times, its vastly improved fuel economy and its impressive list of luxury features. The diesel is also likely to benefit from higher resale values, which means drivers might come out ahead in the end.

Luxury Price Tag, Luxury Features

Of course, when it comes to luxury cars, base price is one thing, while pricing with options is completely different, and that was certainly true of our test car. As tested, our A6 TDI came to around $67,000, a huge sum of money, even with its excellent performance and impressive fuel economy. But after we drove the A6 for a week and became acquainted with all of its equipment, that high-dollar MSRP started to make sense.

Standard features are lavish. Not only does the A6 TDI have typical luxury-car comforts such as a navigation system, a backup camera, front and rear parking sensors, alloy wheels and xenon headlights, it also adds opulent items like Wi-Fi access and a pre-collision system that tightens the seat belts and performs other functions if it detects an impending crash. Our Prestige model even added 4-zone climate control, a rear-collision warning system, adaptive headlights and ventilated front seats.

Beyond the list of features, we were also impressed with how they worked. When equipped with the Driver Assistance Package, for instance, the A6 doesn't just have a backup camera. Instead, it boasts a top-down 360-degree camera that projects an overhead image of the sedan's surroundings to each side. And the standard Multi-Media Interface system's handwriting recognition makes inputs far easier than systems in rival cars, where drivers must scroll through a keyboard and slowly choose letters one by one. We also loved the look of the sedan's Google Maps navigation system, though it can be a little slow to load, given that the car has to constantly connect to Google.

Our Take

In the end, many of us came away highly impressed with the 2014 Audi A6 TDI. It has everything we're looking for in a car: an excellent driving experience, strong acceleration, good fuel economy and a long list of luxury features and new technologies. Overall, it's one of the best cars we've tested.

Some of us, however, couldn't get past the $67,000 price tag, especially when you consider cars such as the Honda Accord Hybrid, which offers similar acceleration, better fuel economy and lots of equipment for far less money. Of course, an Accord Hybrid won't have the same high-end interior as the A6, or the Audi's excellent fit and finish. But it's a great value for drivers who don't need the last word in luxury.

Of course, that argument could be made for many luxury cars, and yet many shoppers who want the best buy them anyway. Given how much we enjoyed the A6 TDI, we certainly wouldn't fault you for making that decision here.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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