The group at the end of the Pan-American Highway. Image: Volkswagen

The group at the end of the Pan-American Highway. Image: Volkswagen

How long would it take you to drive 16,000 miles, on paved roads and dirt, across 14 countries and through every kind of weather imaginable?

Most of us wouldn’t even sign on for the trip, but if you’re Rainer Zietlow, Carlos Fernandez and Marius Biela, the correct answer is 11 days, 17 hours and 22 minutes. 

That’s how long it took the German trio to drive the length of the Pan-American Highway in a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI, shattering the old record by more than three days. The team drove day and night, stopping to change drivers every five hours, and stopping for fuel at designated intervals.

Along the way they encountered a sandstorm in Chile, record heat in the United States and progress-slowing mud in Alaska, but the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg took everything in stride. We haven't been able to find out what kind of fuel economy the Touareg TDI returned, but we promise to keep digging until we do.

The trip was one of goodwill as well. Zietlow agreed to donate 10 Euro cents for each kilometer traveled to Plan International, who works in 48 developing countries to promote children’s rights and combat poverty.

By our calculations, Zietlow will be donating nearly 2,600 Euros to Plan International, which makes the trip more than just a publicity stunt for the new Touareg.

You can find out more about the trip on the TDI Panamericana website, and if you want to meet Zietlow and see the record-breaking Touareg TDI, they’ll be visiting selected Volkswagen dealerships in the U.S. and Canada throughout the month of August. A full tour schedule is posted on the TDI Americana website.



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