After a full week in Austin, it was time to drive the 1,000 miles back to Atlanta. For the return trip Volkswagen exchanged our Touareg Hybrid for a Touareg TDI clean diesel. At $52,000, the Touareg TDI was priced more competitively with the Lexus RX 450h than the Touareg Hybrid, and its EPA ratings suggested that it would be able to achieve better fuel economy, too.
The roads in eastern Texas were flat and smooth, and we were delighted to see both cars make great use of their fuel. The Lexus raised its average consumption from 26.3 to 28.9 mpg, and we were downright impressed with the Touareg TDI’s almost-33 mpg. As we ran low on caffeine and fatigue from four days at SXSW set in, we found a motel in Monroe, Louisiana to spend the night. The next morning, we refueled the RX 450h and began the final leg of our journey.
We traveled a full 800 miles before the Touareg TDI ran out of fuel. That’s almost all the way back to Atlanta from Austin on a single tank of diesel. And, after filling up again in Alabama, we only used another quarter-tank to make it back to the AutoTrader office. By trip’s end, the RX 450h had settled back at 24 MPG, but the Touareg TDI averaged 28.4. You may recall our total cost of fuel for the Touareg Hybrid was $250 on our trip to Austin, while the RX 450h required only $200 to cover the same distance. Between Austin and Atlanta, the RX 450h cost us $215 to fuel, but the Touareg TDI cost only $190.
The 2011 South by Southwest Interactive conference focused on green media and technologies, and our trip to and from Austin allowed us to test the gamut of green transportation options available today. With so many different ways to decrease your carbon footprint and save money at the pump, it’s hard for us to choose a favorite. Whether it’s the Cruze Eco with a high-efficiency gasoline engine, Lexus RX 450h or Touareg hybrids, the electrified Chevy Volt or a diesel-powered Touareg TDI, each vehicle has its own unique advantages.
We think the Touareg TDI represents the best overall mix of performance, utility, comfort and fuel economy. It may not be the most efficient vehicle, but it’s a green alternative that can accommodate the needs of many American families. And that’s the real value for all of these cars. They’re giving us greener options we can live with.