2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SE

My first two test-drives of the new Passat were in top-trim TDI models equipped with the DSG automatic.  So this week I’ve decided to spend some time with the base model.  Here’s a quick look at the SE 6-speed manual.

For those who love choices, shopping the Passat lineup will make you giddy.  The 2013 models can be equipped with 4, 5 or 6 cylinder power, gas or diesel, with or without turbo, 5 and 6-speed manuals and a traditional 6-speed auto along with the dual clutch 6-speed auto.  But the Passats that shine the brightest and most distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack are the TDIs.

When equipped with the 6-speed manual this 2.0-liter turbo-4 earns an EPA rating of 31mpg city/43mpg highway making it the most fuel efficient TDI in the VW lineup.

Offering the 6-speed manual in the Passat is a great idea.  Not only does it improve fuel efficiency by 1mpg over the automatic but it’s super smooth in its operation giving those who prefer to change their own gears an excellent option.

On the highway, the EPA estimates you’ll gain 3mpg over the auto as well.  And as usual, this TDI outperformed the sticker numbers this week by returning nearly 41mpg – don’t expect that from a hybrid.  But here’s the potential catch; if you want the stick shift you’ll have to forgo the goodies because it’s only available in the base SE trim.  The good news is that it’s obviously the least expensive Passat TDI with a starting price of about $27,000.  Now if simplicity is your thing you’ll like the uncluttered look and get in and go experience the SE provides.  You still press a fob to get in and insert a key into the ignition to start it.  There’s manual A/C, no navi and not even a USB port to charge your phone.  The most notable creature comforts are heated front seats and the luxury-level quietness of the cabin.

I love the way this car drives – big and smooth with the trademark VW chassis providing the buttoned-down German feel and its 236 pound feet of torque means there’s plenty of grunt.  If you’re looking for the perfect long distance cruiser you can stop right here…its potential driving range is nearly 800 miles and there’s lots of people space and a large trunk.

I don’t see eye-to-eye with VW’s body designs on any of their models…its lack of style is its style… but I do really like this Reflex Silver paint.  The Passat TDI is a winning choice in the midsize segment no matter which gearbox you choose.

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