2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

In the battle between gas-electric hybrids and diesels, the smart money is definitely on the side of Rudolf’s invention.  And there’s no better example than VW’s Passat’s TDI.

I first drove this car during the 2012 model year and quickly fell in love with its combination of roominess, premium-feel and Energizer Bunny driving range.  So when VW recently offered me another week in this nearly identical 2013 Passat TDI SEL Premium, I was all in.  Though it’s a carryover from last year, I was curious to see if I’d get the same great mileage I did last time and also to investigate whether my nose would pick up the diesel odor I had previously noticed.  You can get this car with either a traditional stick shift or an automatic direct shift gearbox known as DSG, both with 6-speeds.  And this is one of those rare instances nowadays where the manual gets better mileage than the auto.  But here with the DSG, the EPA rates it as 30mpg city/40mpg highway.  With the stick, it’s the most fuel-efficient TDI in VW’s entire lineup at 43mpg highway and could conceivably deliver 795 miles on one tank…ridiculously impressive.  But during the week, this car made a 260-mile trek to Vermont and back on windy mountain roads and rewarded us with 43mpg. 

 Whereas you have to baby a hybrid to even come close to its advertised MPG, the Passat TDI has exceeded its EPA estimates once again and you can drive it any way you wish.    

Driving a hybrid often makes you feel like a prisoner of a green driving style, afraid to use the accelerator and when you do there’s little reward anyway, but my experience with VW’s TDI models is that operate just like a regular gas-powered car but with a torquier punch and way better mileage.  Indeed, diesel fuel is expensive. In my area it’s often significantly more than a gallon of premium.  But even costing $70 to fill the tank, this car will save the average driver $800 per year as compared with a Passat V6. 

And as for that slight diesel odor my nose caught last time, nearly imperceptible this time.

This top of the line Passat TDI with no options stickers for $33,710.  It delivers big car proportions, wonderful driving dynamics, a German-tuned ride, quiet cabin and lots of goodies all for a very reasonable price.  If you’re thinking diesel for your next car, the Passat shouldn’t be missed.

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