Volkswagen Passat TDI is today's car of the future

Volkswagen Passat TDI is today's car of the future

Summary: Looking for excellent engine performance, reliability and gas mileage, with quality construction in a roomy sedan with sporty looks that's made in the USA? Then look no further than VW's Passat TDI.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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my-vw-passat-tdi

My 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium in St. Augustine, FL.

Over the last few weeks as I came to the realization that my move to Florida from New Jersey was imminent, I began to look into the purchase of a new car.

While I loved my two late 80's and early 90's Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL cars, it was time for one of them to go. The older of the two vehicles needed several thousand dollars worth of maintenance and when it came to fuel consumption it was like a thirsty elephant, getting about 10-12MPG at best on its 5.6L V8.

Additionally, the air conditioning peformance on the cars were far from optimal and I was concerned about potential reliability issues when driving the vehicle 1200+ miles down the I-95 corridor from New Jersey over the 4th of July week. 

So I decided to donate the 1987 car, arranged for the 1990 to get trailered to Fort Lauderdale and look for a suitable replacement vehicle. 

Now, there are many fuel efficient cars on the market, such as the hybrids from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and GM, as well as a wide variety of regular gasoline-fueled cars with 30+ MPG to choose from. But I had some pretty specific requirements.

First, I'm a big dude. I need a really roomy car, and many of the small and mid-sized vehicles on the market just aren't appropriate for someone of my girth and height. I also wasn't willing to settle for something in the 30+ MPG range, I wanted something in the 40+ MPG range. And I preferred to own something that was sporty and with good engine performance that could seat four people comfortably and had a nice-sized trunk.

You put all these variables together and it's a pretty tall order for any car.

First I test drove Toyota's Prius V. This is a very impressive car technologically and if you're inclined to get a state-of-the-art hybrid vehicle, it would be a really good choice. It has a voluminous amount of trunk space, gets over 40MPG, it has a generous amount of driver room and you can stuff a ton of people/kids into it. And starting at about $27K the car is priced pretty aggressively.

However, I didn't fall in love with this car. The suspension had almost hovercraft-like characteristics, in the sense that you didn't feel the road. I also found the array of electronic stuff on the dash really intimidating and distracting.

That may seem odd coming from a technology writer, but you have to understand that once you get used to a purely analog driver's car like a circa 1990 Mercedes 5-series with a sport suspension this is a huge adjustment.

I don't mind electronics in a car -- I rent plenty of vehicles with doodads and electronic dashes in them when I travel on business. But getting into a current model Prius is like trying to fly a Boeing 787. The entire car is "fly by wire" with the exception of the steering, and for a control freak like myself, it's an absolute turn-off.

And Chevy's Volt? While I was impressed with the car during my weekend test drive last year I'm just not willing to be an early adopter with a car that technologically sophisticated. There's just too much about the long-term reliability of plug-in electric hybrid EV's we just don't know about yet. And like the Prius you can't exactly bring a Volt into any mechanic, it has to be maintained at a dealership.

So about two weeks ago I my wife and I wandered into a Volkswagen dealership. I've always liked Volkswagens because they are extremely reliable, well-engineered cars that deliver snappy performance. But they've always been a little too tight for me.

I was amazed, however, when I sat in the 2012 Passat. This is a car that's made for tall, big dudes. Hey, let's face it, most German men aren't built like Japanese or Koreans. And it is indeed sporty, has lots of back seat room, with a trunk you could throw a pile of dead bodies or a large amount of luggage in. In fact, the car has about the same amount of interior space as a 7-series BMW.

Oh and by the way, it's made in Chattanooga, TN. Built by American workers.

The standard Passat comes in a 5-cylinder 2.0L gasoline engine and there also is a V6 avaliable as well. But you can also get it in a 2.0L, 4-cylinder 140HP turbodiesel, known as the "TDI" or Turbocharged Direct Injection, which gets well in excess of of the advertised 42MPG and 750-mile range on the highway with its 18.5 gallon tank.

Edmunds.com recently tested a number of fuel-efficient vehicles and the Passat TDI utterly smoked the competition, with 43MPG in the city and over 50MPG at highway speeds. In extreme scenarios it is also possible to get well over 1000 miles range per tank on the car, as was demonstrated by a couple who drove 1600 miles on one tank in a Passat TDI.

The Passat TDI in its basic configuration with a 6-speed manual transmission starts out at about $26,000 sticker, whereas the TDI SE with sunroof and automatic starts out at about $28,000. I ended up purchasing the TDI SEL Premium, the most maxxed-out model with leather and woodgrain interior, integrated in-dash navigation system and alloy wheels.

Very sharp ride, I must say.

How does this car perform in the real world? Impressively. The high-compression turbodiesel has crazy amounts of torque, even for a 4-cylinder. It drives like a European touring sedan is supposed to drive, more like its much pricier Audi cousins which are built off the same chassis.

The TDI has incredible passing power, even when we were driving down I-95 through Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia in the 100+ degree heat with the air conditioning running on full blast at 64 degrees. And man can the thing take tight corners. 

So is there anything negative about the car? Not much, actually. The only thing negative is diesel's bad rap in the United States, which is outdated at best, considering the popularity of diesel vehicles in Europe.

Back when diesel cars were introduced into the United States back in the 1980s it was much harder to get fuel at retail gas stations, and diesel cars were much more expensive because you had few brands to choose from -- mostly you were talking Mercedes-Benz and more recently BMW. And diesel fuel used to be smellier.

But that's just not the case anymore. Over 50 percent of retail gas stations in the United States now offer diesel fuel, which is a low-sulphur type that was introduced several years ago, so it doesn't smell bad. The only "negative" one could come up with is the average higher price of diesel fuel versus gas. In Florida, I've seen it as low as $3.52 per gallon all the way up to $3.80. 

However, with some very small modifications, essentially a special filter, a diesel car can use biodiesel, literally vegetable oil. And if you filter it a bit more carefully, you can use the discarded french fry oil from fast-food restaurants. VW's TDI engines are already biodiesel-rated and require no modifications.

So in a number of ways a diesel car is actually more "green" than a comparable gasoline hybrid, and in theory, if the US were to transform much of our corn-producing output which is largely dedicated to High Fructose Corn Syrup to highly refined biodiesel (or use any number of other biological sources such as switchgrass)  which is a sustainable energy source, then we could substantially lower our dependence on foreign oil. 

There are other advantages to diesel engined cars, however. Overall, diesel engines are far less complicated than gasoline powered cars, so over the lifetime of a car, they have a lot less mechanical problems. They also have an incredible longevity compared with gasoline engines -- because of the high compression ratio they need to run at, the engine blocks have to be heavier and much more solidly built. And they can handle hotter weather better than gasoline engines.

As I have read on a number of TDI enthusiast sites, as the vehicles get older, the cars tend to fall apart around the engine, not the other way around. There's no reason why a diesel engine if properly serviced cannot last 20 years. In fact, many of the TDIs built in the 1990s are still on the road, as are Mercedes-Benz diesels from the 1980s.

Volkswagen has been building cars with the TDI system for about 15 years now, so it's a mature technology. They currently offer it on the Passat as well as the Jetta and Jetta Sportwagon, and in 2013, they will be offering it on the Beetle, which dealerships are already taking pre-orders for in advance of pricing.

With all the talk centered around hybrid electric vehicles, it makes one think whether or not the automotive industry and the driving public isn't able can't see forest for the trees. Diesel is a real alternative and sustainable fuel source, and provides excellent fuel economy and car performance and reliability.

Do you drive or are you considering the purchase of a diesel-engined car? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topic: Emerging Tech

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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29 comments
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  • Diesel

    Jason, all the advantages you are attributing to modern diesel cars (like the VW TDI) are true but you are missing one big disadvantage i.e. ultra fine particle pollution. In Belgium, around 70% of the cars are Diesel cars, mostly due to their fuel economy and to the fact that until recently diesel was much cheaper than gas. Diesel exhaust is visually much cleaner than years ago (no black fumes = big particles anymore). However a lot of extra deaths, respiratory diseases and allergies are attributed to the ultra fine, invisible particles that modern diesels emit. Hence, a movement in Belgium to discourage the sales of diesels cars.
    The best advice remains to drive the least possible kilometers.

    Wilfried
    Wilfried Boes
    • DPF and DEF

      Here the big trucks are using Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) and thus must use Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). These systems use the DPF to capture these particles you speak of and and DEF fluid is injected in to these super heated filters to burn them off. Examine the inside of the exhaust pipe of any new Kenworth with 100k miles on it and you'll see that it's completely clean on the inside. I would imagine that cars will soon have these systems as well if not already. Some pickups do here now.
      mbond@...
    • Pollution

      Wilfried , I encourage you to buy this TDI diesel. It's milage makes it a great choice and diesels last almost forever with minimal maintenance. Ask someone like me for recs on service and you can't go wrong. Your point about the pollution is made mute ,if you decide to keep the vehicle for long term use. Find an alternative fuels tech like myself and have an HHO unit installed. This unit if properly installed will add even more mpg and eliminate the fine particle pollution that you refer to. This is a great long term solution to the pollution problem and has no detrimental effects on engine performance or longevity. I don't like the additive solution that is presently being esposed because it entails a long commitment to purchasing the fluid plus the actual burn unit does nothing with the heat to help propel the vehicle and the burn unit will likely fail long before the engine does. I being a motorhead do not believe in burning any fuel in a vehicle where the resulting energy doesn't contribute to turning something useful ! Best of luck to you.Nick , fmr top dog journeyman diesel mech.Greyhound lines inc.
      William R Nicholson
  • TDIs are awesome... Excellent choice Jason.

    I have a 2010 Jetta TDI Cup edition... It has the Euro suspension, Beefed up rotors on front and back, the interior is the GTI Plaid, and it is comfortable for a big guy like me... And it is a ton of fun to drive... The TDI is rated and warranted for bio-diesel out of the box, no mods necessary. I have been running mine on biodiesel since day one and it has been nothing but a joy to own and drive. I have read on the forums that people around the world have been running their TDIs on pure vege oil with no mods at all... One guy said he had over 60K miles and has only run his on vege oil and nothing else... That was one of the reasons the TDI won over all the other hybrids and cars I looked at... It has great fuel economy, incredible power and torque, and an incredibly sporty comfortable car that handles like a sports cars wet dream.

    I actually rented a Prius for a weekend and drove the hell out of it. On one section of that weekend,I drove for 4 hours and could barely walk when I got out of the Prius... They are NOT made for a big person... I am 6'2" and with the seat all the way back (and the damn steering wheel that doesn't telescope), it was an incredibly uncomfortable drive... It was peppy and quit, but I had to drive with my right hip cocked in a weird position, after 4 hours in that position, it felt like I dislocated a hip when I got out and tried to walk.

    I also looked at the Nissan Altima hybrid and thought they were a joke… The fit and finish on them is horrible as is the paint… I dare anyone with an eye for body work to look at any Nissan without laughing their @ss off… The gaps on the hood, tail lights, trunk, and fenders are all over the place. The dealer I went to had 23 Altima Hybrids in stock and not one had a straight body… That prompted me to look at the rest of the Nissan models to check the fit and finish and none of them were straight… I can only imagine the problems that a decent body shop has with them if they have to do a collision repair. Nissan also has a dark blue metallic paint and when I looked at all the new cars that had that paint, they all had massive spider cracks all over the cars (really shows up in the sun)… So I will never buy a POS Nissan as they are all a joke.

    But I think you will be very happy with your TDI.. And who knows, if we run out of gas and diesel, you can run your TDI on straight vege oil and smile as you drive by everyone else who is walking and riding bicycles.

    I am hoping someone makes a bigger version of the TDI engine for trucks... I would love to have one in a 3/4 ton for towing my boat as well as camping.
    i8thecat4
  • Driven one for years

    I have driven a Jetta TDI since 2003 and still get better gas mileage than the wifes Prius. The only downside is when the turbo dies its not cheap to replace and I've gone through a few of them.

    The best of both worlds will be when the release a TDI hybrid which should put the mpg through the roof.
    jfp
  • Sharp indeed

    "The entire car [Toyota Prius] is "fly by wire" with the exception of the steering, and for a control freak like myself, it's an absolute turn-off."

    And after that state of the art, fly-by-wire Air France Airbus fell out of the sky while crossing the Atlantic a few years back - pilot error or not - a certain cause/pause for concern is warranted.

    "Edmunds.com recently tested a number of fuel-efficient vehicles and the Passat TDI utterly smoked the competition, with 43MPG in the city and over 50MPG at highway speeds."

    Impressive. You appear to have done your homework.

    "However, with some very small modifications, essentially a special filter, a diesel car can use biodiesel, literally vegetable oil."

    The wave of the future. I see movement in this direction in more and more quarters these days.

    "And man can the thing take tight corners."

    A trademark of German engineered cars, to include Volkswagens. Even the old Kafers (Bugs) and Ghias with low pivot swing axles and stock sway bars could crank corners like demons, doubly so when equipped with quality radials like Michelins and decent shocks. Of course you had to remember to never over-steer. ;)
    klumper
    • re: Sharp indeed

      "And after that state of the art, fly-by-wire Air France Airbus fell out of the sky while crossing the Atlantic a few years back - pilot error or not - a certain cause/pause for concern is warranted." does a none fly-by-wire falling out of the sky cause similar concerns?
      "And man can the thing take tight corners." - attributed to European designed cars, not just the German cars because we have a lot of corners in Europe
      deaf_e_kate
      • Image is everything

        @deaf_e_kate
        "[How] does a none fly-by-wire falling out of the sky cause similar concerns?"

        That comment wasn't meant to be a direct or analogous comparison between Toyota and Air France, both of which are reputable firms.

        It was aimed at the fly-by-wire concept in and of itself, where the machine does the thinking for user/handler. Then when things go wrong, the accompanying indecision and/or confusion on what to do in turn, now that there is such a built-in reliance (over-reliance?) on the machine's programming to make all the necessary decisions and corrective adjustments.

        Even with those concerns, the Airbus has had a stellar record to date, well, until that Air France incident. Mind you, there is a reason some will not climb aboard an Airbus, and stick with the old school Boeings instead (including some pilots). I'm not one of them however.

        "[tight corners] - attributed to European designed cars, not just the German cars because we have a lot of corners in Europe."

        Fair enough, but none of them have attained the longstanding reputation the German makers have of bringing these kinds of things to the masses, both on low and high end models. And it goes without saying, image is everything.
        klumper
  • Passant TDI

    Jason,

    Great article! I am taking delivery of a 2012 Passat TDI next week and can't wait to begin to realize the fuel savings from my Nissan Titan. The Passat handles just as you would expect from German engineers. The space in the cabin is amazing and the features it comes with are superb! Not sure if I will run Veg oil in it but am open to biodiesel if I can find it. Can't wait to get my Passat!
    Navyhca
  • Right On!

    I never thought I'd see an article about a TDI on ZDNet, but this was a great article. I've had a Passat TDI SE since December and I absolutely love it. It performs well on the road, and has plenty of space for road trips. It outperforms the EPA numbers right off the lot, and gets even better after the first oil change at 10K miles. Getting 50 MPG on a highway commute is common, and makes me wonder why I took so long to get a diesel. This is my second VW and my first diesel, but it won't be my last. I don't think I can settle for anything less now...
    Rashard Longino
  • Keep in mind

    My chief complaint with my previous Passat (gasoline engine) was the routine maintenance costs and the repair costs. These can be reduced if you do a lot of your own service. But between my Passat and my wife's Golf, I just got tired of the expense. (Yeah, it was a fun drive!)

    I'm thrilled with my Camry Hybrid's 36.2 MPG (lifetime over 60K miles), very few repairs (all under warranty), and low costs for routine maintenance. Yeah, driving it is appliance-like, but at least it is smooth and quiet.
    bmgoodman
    • VW regular service

      is a bear. But all deanship service costs a fortune. You are better off doing most of it yourself. Changing the oil, oil filters, air filters various exterior bulbs, recharging AC freon etc are very easy. Changing spark plugs is pretty easy too if you buy the correct plug extractor. Brake pads are little trickier but not too bad if you are handy. You are better off getting the check list of regular maintenance items from vw and doing everything you can do yourself. There are only a few things I can't do and I bring it to a mechanic for those things when necessary.
      Tigertank
  • best wishes

    before retireing and going techie ,i worked for vw dealers for 42 years as a mechanic. you couldn't have made a better choice in car and motor. the tdi has long been vw's better motor of a good motor going back to 1978 when vw ramped out the 1.5 diesel in the rabbit. normal of vw they just keep making good better, and going back to building in the usa a very good move,
    want to drive another good one,thats if you can find a good used one, the 5.0 liter v10 tdi in the touareg.i was able to get 20 mpgs highway out of my own, and for a big suv thats great mpg's
    charlieg1
  • Sold on the TDI, but biodiesel is an environmental nightmare

    You've got me convinced to look first at the Passat TDI for my next car. (Who could have guessed 25 years ago that "extremely reliable" would ever be used in the same sentence as Volkswagen by anyone but a mechanic, as in "Volkswagen owners provide me an extremely reliable income stream!")

    But please don't perpetuate the myth that biodiesel is a good thing for the environment. As best I've been able to determine, the global demand is driving mass rain forest deforestation to supply palm kernel oil, etc. And making food production compete with fuel for ag land use sounds like a very bad idea, particularly considering the amount of energy that can actually be extracted from an acre of land.

    Of course, if you can find a supply of french fry oil, that's a different matter. But around where I live, I think most places that use enough cooking oil to provide a reliable supply are already contracting to sell their used oil commercially.
    ramatsu
  • Dependence on foreign oil !

    Jason, the party line is a bit extreme, pls reconsider your use of such terms. " The dependence on foreign oil " If we had an administration that encouraged jobs and growth in this nation we'd drill now and open up all sources of energy available in our own country. We have the ability to be totally energy independent now and if gov't would get out of the way, it would've been done decades ago. The present system wishes to keep you and your dependents on a short leash with little independent thought or freedom. I worked for oil companies and as a licensed smog tech whom dedicated a high percentage of my career to cleaning the environment.... I will assure you that the men and women in the energy sector care as much or more about their impact on environment than any person in EPA or anywhere else. They have children too and they want to give their descendents the cleanest possible planet. The best way to avoid pollution is to get more energy development in the U.S. ! If you really think china and others like them are as concerned about pollution as we are; I've a slightly used bridge to sell you ........
    William R Nicholson
    • reply to Wm Nicholson

      Although over a year late, I had to reply to William here.
      First off I'm not sure if he's referring to "the party line"
      as belonging to a political or environmental stance but dependance on foreign oil is a fact. No matter. We all know who espouses drill baby drill and those who would take a more nuanced approach. Secondly I find the comment "If we had an administration that encouraged jobs and growth" highly objectionable. He must be referring to the party of NO that wants this administration to fail, that brought us two spurious wars and the bailout and then handed those off to the current administration. Or possibly he means the administration that got the first CAFE increases in, oh, thirty years or so?
      The drill now, drill everywhere mentality is rich considering that he wrote this during the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Lot's of folks think it ended better than it could have but it will take decades to decide that. Meanwhile have you seen the price of Gulf shrimp recently? How about the fact that "an administration" largely allowed drilling to resume and in fact expand!
      I don't believe we can be totally oil independent but I won't mince terms. I personally believe switchgrass or similar would be THE answer and we could fight the midwest and corn subsidies so food prices are moderated.
      The whole "if government would get out of the way" argument is exactly why we are in this major recession to begin with: decades of the same false argument. Anyone who wants to get rid of the FDA, the department of education and other libertarian idiocy should understand the food they eat every day (among other things) is safe due to standards that were fought for. As far as "it would've been done decades ago" I can only laugh at such nincompoop statements. I can't go into legislative and technological history but William here obviously doesn't know his.
      I can assure you that, taken as a whole, the energy sector does NOT care about the environment as much as the EPA and anyone knowledgeable about campaign 'contributions' would know this.
      The best way to avoid pollution is probably to go hybrid - big time- and burn coal but filters for coal power plants are expensive and highly political. We're shutting down coal plants and building natural gas power plants. If we would regulate fracking correctly we could get both benefits but just like New York state rubber stamped it's regulation of that industry, we'll end up with vast spoiled lands and water because the money is too alluring. Sad. Yet another example of government for the highest bidder and the people be damned.
      Where China comes into his head I don't know. He must be trying to state that only the dems believe China has environmental concerns, as if no one in China has noticed the huge issue while they try to breathe.
      Lastly, while I applaud the article and hope to purchase a TDI I found Jason's reliability comment a real canard. As far as I can remember, unless you own a late model VW, the mechanical issues and the bill to fix them are a major reason why people avoid used VW's. Might be different for diesels.
      Mac29
  • There are a whole lot of inaccuracies here.

    You said one couple got 86.5 mpg. Yeah uh huh?

    And the car is not made in the US, it's made in Mexico, the Audi's are made in the US.
    Yes diesels are more durable, but also have issues with gel fuel on cold morning, also improved but can still be an issue.
    The Passat is a dandy car but let's leave the facts, facts and do your homework next time.
    Best we've seen yet is less than 60 mpg, and while extremely respectable, leave the actual data to what it is. Hyperbola is best left to the marketing group.

    While I like the car I find the gas and brake peddle to be much to close together for my size 14 shoes and those shoes come attached to a very long large body. As such I find the seats too narrow. On two of the models I've rented, (gas) I found the wind noise to be excessive to the point of distracting. This will be worked out but. I noticed not a single gripe about the car, come on, even the most thrilled customer has a gripe.

    The most important point, just try to buy a TDI now. You can't for a while so --------
    Where exactly did you come by yours? You must be paid by VW.

    Last:
    The standard Passat comes in a 5-cylinder 2.0L gasoline engine and there also is a V6 avaliable as well. But you can also get it in a 2.0L, 4-cylinder 140HP turbodiesel, known as the "TDI" or Turbocharged Direct Injection, which gets well in excess of of the advertised 42MPG and 750-mile range on the highway with its 18.5 gallon tank.

    And you know this "well in excess of the advertised 42MPG", how might I ask, because with the auto you will suffer somewhat lower mileage.

    Edmunds.com recently tested a number of fuel-efficient vehicles and the Passat TDI utterly smoked the competition, with 43MPG in the city and over 50MPG at highway speeds. In extreme scenarios it is also possible to get well over 1000 miles range per tank on the car, as was demonstrated by a couple who drove 1600 miles on one tank in a Passat TDI.

    There they collected data, and that would be right, odd you didn't point out how much over 50 MPG. ----- a fraction of a MPG!

    I applaud your enthusiasm for the car, your desire to steer your readers the green direction, and the Passat is a dandy, but stick to facts, if your reporting.
    jefflewno@...
    • Your statements are also inaccurate

      [i]And the car is not made in the US, it's made in Mexico, the Audi's are made in the US.[/i]

      Completely false. VW builds this car in its new Chattanooga Tennessee plant. (some engine components are built in Germany and shipped here for assembly)


      [i]Yes diesels are more durable, but also have issues with gel fuel on cold morning[/i]

      Thats not really as much of an issue anymore. The new Passat is specified to start at 10 below zero. At that temperature most car batteries will begin having issues too.


      [i]Best we've seen yet is less than 60 mpg, and while extremely respectable, leave the actual data to what it is. Hyperbola is best left to the marketing group.[/i]

      Not sure what you are complaining about here. VW has always understated their fuel efficiency. They list 43 highway as the max mpg but in reality regularly gets well over 50 MPG. That's the opposite of hyperbole. For what its worth, my own car is a 2004 VW GTI VR6 which is listed as 30 mpg highway but I consistently get 35 or better on the highway. That fact that you can possibly get ultra high milage if you drive slow and baby it is just gravy.


      [i]The most important point, just try to buy a TDI now. You can't for a while so --------
      Where exactly did you come by yours? You must be paid by VW.[/i]

      They have been been selling since last spring. My father bought his in April.


      [i]And you know this "well in excess of the advertised 42MPG", how might I ask, because with the auto you will suffer somewhat lower mileage. [i/]

      My father has gotten 54 MPG on a trip from Cape May NJ to Toms River NJ. (about 150 miles) whether or not the automatic is a mile or two less per gallon is negligible compared to getting in excess of 50 MPG on a 40MPG claimed rate.


      Seriously, I can't understand the point to your complaining.
      Tigertank
    • Jefflewno should really fact check before commenting...

      The first rule when critiquing someone is to not make sh** up and attribute it to them, so easy to spot and get called on, makes all your other statements suspect!

      Now where did it say "You said one couple got 86.5 mpg. Yeah uh huh?" - if you had clicked on the embedded link you would have found that a couple - who do this sort of thing to set records for Guinness - did get 1600 miles on a tank which works out to 84.1 MPG.

      As TigerTank pointed out your comment about Mexico is also wrong, the car is made in Tennessee which the article pointed out correctly.

      The whole gelled fuel issue is blown out of proportion, I drove a TDI in Ottawa, the second coldest capital in the world with temperatures hitting minus 40 in the winter on a regular basis. The car was parked outside all day and not plugged in and started every time, this was an older 2003, not the newer technology with ceramic glow plugs and high pressure injectors! You just have to use winter fuel in it which the stations switch to in the fall.

      The Edmonds test showed that the Passat TDI averaged 45 MPG over the 700 miles and got 51.7 on the highway section. That was in an unbroken in engine, diesel engines need 30,000 to 50,000 miles to break in and achieve better mileage, my 2003 TDI was still improving when I sold it at 180,000 miles and averaged 57 MPG over its lifetime, you can check out my Fuelly if you want.

      The article had some flaws, the new Common Rail injection does not like WVO or Biodiesel in fact you shouldn't go above B5 or 5% biodiesel on it if you want the warranty to be valid. It does run best on B5 though since the ULSD process strips off some of the lubricant that B5 puts back in, makes your fuel pump last longer!

      The 5 Cylinder engine is the 2.5 gas engine not the 2.0, the Passat TDI is actually rated better for MPG than the Jetta which has nearly the same engine - the difference is that the Passat used Urea injection and the Jetta has a DPF which goes through burn cycle - which uses more fuel to burn off the particles in the filter, and adds weight and complexity to the system. Up here in Canada the 2012 TDI engine in the Jetta is rated at 61 MPG on the highway by Transport Canada - of course those are Imperial Gallons and would only be 50.7 MPG on US Gallons but very close to the Edmonds result not to the EPA prediction which has always been anti-diesel - IMHO.

      I think the Passat is a great start on getting fun, fuel efficient cars out there for the public and eagerly await the arrive of the Mazda SkyD Diesel engine as well as the Honda/Accura submissions. Unless something better comes along I will try and get a lease return in 2 to 3 years on one of these, right now there isn't anything out there which achieves the same level of comfort and driving enjoyment while getting this sort of mileage.
      NorthernMage
  • Biodiesel and emitions

    The one thing you often don't find out till you buy the modern diesel cars is that you void the warranty if you go above a certain amount of biodiesel in the fuel mix. Most are 10% or less. Further, most commercial biodiesel is both more costly than dino, and also mostly made from soy or algae oils. The growing of such plants does help off set some of the distribution carb. emitions. It also generates more domestic jobs. But back to the point, its the emitions systems that are designed for a certain fuel and its combustibility. Too much additives or bio may cause build up and pre-mature failure of the system such as the cat. converter. Additionally, the sensors are sensative and costly. Do want to risk a $250 plus labor O2 sensor or both of them? If you are planning to make your own bio, you will need a centrifuge and fine particle filters, or you will leave partical residue in your engine. If you do it right, you'll spend over $4000 on reactors and filtration systems. It really only makes sense to make your own if you own your own bussines. You'll need lots of space for tanks and chemicals. You'll also be working with Meth. It burns without a visible flame and is highly combustible. You'll need a permit if you're hauling more than a certain amount on public roads.
    As far as modern diesels go, they are cleaner and more cost effectively efficient than any other option. You do not need to worry about $10k in replacement batteries when your car is turning 9 years old. Let's all hope people don't just ditch their old prius batteries in a junk yard, but rather properly dispose of those chemicals disasters. They should be required to by law, like junking a refrigerator, but most areas do not.
    Brian Rowe