You might be tempted to dismiss the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI as "just a Volkswagen," but this is a very special machine. Built on the same structure as the all-world Porsche Cayenne, the Touareg is the savvy shopper's choice among luxury SUVs. When you throw in the TDI diesel V6 engine, the result is one of the best midsize SUVs in the world, period. Here are five reasons to visit your VW dealer and see if you feel the same way.

Amazing Fuel Economy

It's no secret that diesels get better fuel economy than gasoline engines, but the sturdy Touareg TDI tips the scales at almost 2.5 tons. You may well be wondering how efficient such a heavy vehicle could really be. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the TDI yields an unbelievable 20 miles per gallon city and 29 mpg highway. For reference, the gas-powered Touareg V6 gets just 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy, and it provides basically the same performance. Thanks to its 26-gallon fuel tank, the Touareg TDI has a range of more than 700 miles between refueling stops. That's Boston to Detroit: It's ready if you are.

Great Turbodiesel Performance

Diesels used to have a reputation for being excruciatingly slow, but that's before they were turbodiesels. Modern turbocharged diesel engines can actually keep up just fine, and the Touareg TDI's 3-liter V6 is a shining example. It's rated at a relatively modest 240 horsepower, but it compensates with a monstrous 406 lb-ft of torque, enabling a swift 7-second sprint to 60 mph. The Touareg TDI can also tow up to 7,700 pounds, a figure that puts most midsize SUVs to shame.

The Driver's SUV

Back in the day, VW's advertising slogan was "Drivers Wanted," and the Touareg TDI definitely pushes the right buttons for folks who like to drive. Remember, Porsche played a central role in the development of the Touareg's platform, giving the VW a major head start on the rest of the field. You can feel the Touareg's sports-car soul in its quick, precise steering and surprisingly moderate body roll. You might not expect a nearly 5,000-pound SUV to put a smile on your face on a winding road, but this one can.

Lots of Standard Equipment

Volkswagen may mean "people's car" in German, but the Touareg TDI's features are upper-crust all the way. Plenty of desirable items come standard, including dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tailgate and a brilliant panoramic sunroof if you get the Lux trim level. There's also an 8-speaker stereo with a touchscreen interface, and you haven't even checked an option box yet. You can go to town with the packages if you want, of course, but with this car, you don't you have to.

Off-Road Ready

Most Touareg TDIs won't venture beyond paved surfaces, but that doesn't mean you can't get yours dirty if you want to. The Touareg is a real SUV, with a rear-wheel-drive layout that's paired with a very capable all-wheel-drive system. Combined with the long-travel suspension, you'll make quick work of just about any light-duty terrain. If you're tempted to turn down that dusty desert road and see where it leads, go right ahead. The Touareg's up for it.

AutoTrader Says: Don't think of the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI as an expensive VW; Think of it as a bargain Porsche. Midsize SUVs don't get much better than this.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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