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Hello: We follow you every week and love the analysis provided. We are looking at the Audi Q7 as the car for us, which can help us with style, more space and accommodate visiting family and friends. We like the design of the car and its interior, but were let down by the offers on technology upgrades like navigation. We look forward to reading your thoughts about our choice and other cars we should consider. – Ankit and Anupam in Mississauga, Ont.

Vaughan: Cato, this is more like it. A couple of Globe readers ready to slap down 70 grand for a large, luxury SUV. These are people who would certainly enjoy our priceless prose.

Cato: Yes, those are Globe readers. I'd bet every one of the 1,653 Canadians who bought a Q7 last year also read the Globe. Speaking of which, the Q7 TDI diesel is the one they want and it starts at $63,200 before discounts – not $70,000. More on discounts shortly.

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Vaughan: That's the one they want and it will be more than 70 with tax and a few goodies. The Q7 with the 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel V-6 delivers 240 hp through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The ride is luxurious and you'll love the pulling power and fuel economy of diesel.

If you're hauling around a lot of family, you can get a Q7 with three rows of seats, an option that adds $1,200 to the price.

Cato: You've ignored the torque part of the Q7 story. Horsepower only matters when you're roaring down the autobahn, reaching for top speed.

But torque – that's the twisting force that goes to the wheels – and it's massive here: 407 lb-ft. And with fuel economy that beats a 283-horsepower V-6 Dodge Journey: 11.5 litres/100 km in the city, 7.1 highway for the Q and 12.8 city/8.2 highway for the Dodge.

Vaughan: Cato, you simply cannot control yourself. You must trot out all these irritating numbers.

Cato: Then here are some more, just to irritate you further. Ankit and Anupam were not happy with the extra charges for options and I see their point. You want that three-row seating? That will be $1,200, please. Or package it with a panorama sunroof for $2,500. Want to tow? That will be $850 for a seven-pin adapter.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Audi Canada finally has slapped on some sales sweeteners here. I see, from carcostcanada.com, incentives that could run to as much as nearly $5,000 for an in-stock Q7. My advice, then, only shop the dealer lot and push hard for all the discounts.

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2013 Volkswagen Touareg Volkswagen Volkswagen  

Vaughan: Enough, Cato. Let's move on.

As everybody knows, though a certain manufacturer hates to mention it, the humble VeeDub Touareg is almost exactly the same vehicle as the haughty Porsche Cayenne – only with a down-market badge. Comfortable, great road manners, terrific all-wheel-drive system and, best of all, with a TDI diesel for a mere 54 thou. Globe readers will find this a pittance and may buy two.

Cato: Of course, Volkswagen shivers at talk of its platform-sharing strategy – which, by the way, is working to a T.

The Tourag, the Cayenne and the Q7 all share their basic roots, the platform, as the car business lingo goes.

But there are plenty of differences. Starting with price. A Touareg, with that same 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, starts at $53,975. You can only get seating for five in a Touareg and these two rigs look different and come with their own package of features. There's value in the VW, though if our readers insist on that third row, they need to go for the Audi. Or Mercedes' GL350 BlueTec 4Matic ($73,700).

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2013 Mercedes GL350 BlueTec Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz

Vaughan: Cato, now you're talking about the SUV designed for Globe readers. A diesel one, too. This is the luxury liner of massive SUVs. It rides as smooth and steady and quiet as an S-Class limousine.

But I can tell you – because I've done it – if you go off-off-road, the GL is as capable as any Land Rover or Jeep. There's nothing in Mississauga it couldn't handle.

Cato: Mercedes gave this one a top-to-bottom remake this year. Worth the price premium over the Audi and the VW? Not so sure. There's a cost built into that three-point start.

I'll say this: the power here is astounding. We're talking a 3.0-litre V-6 turbodiesel that puts out 240 hp and a stump-pulling 455 lb-ft of torque. And the look of the GL is eye-catching.

Did I mention all the technology?

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Vaughan: Don't. Personally I'd take the value buy at Volkswagen. Go for the Touareg and paste a Porsche badge on the nose.

Cato: Take the Audi and three rows plus all the discounts.

*****

HOW THEY COMPARE

 

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC 4MATIC2013 Volkswagen Touareg 4MOTION 3.0TDI Comfortline2013 Audi Q7 3.0TDI AWD quattro

Wheelbase (mm)

307528933002

Length (mm)

512047955089

Width (mm)

214119401983

Track, front (mm)

185017321737

Engine

3.0-litre V-6, turbocharged diesel3.0-litre V-6, turbocharged diesel3.0-litre V-6, turbocharged diesel

Output (horsepower/torque)

240/455 lb-ft240/406 lb-ft240/407 lb-ft

Drive system

All-wheel driveAll-wheel driveAll-wheel drive

Transmission

Seven-speed automaticEight-speed automaticEight-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)

245522562455

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

11.9 city/8.6 highway10.8 city/6.7 highway11.5 city/7.1 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$73,700$53,975$63,200

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

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