In the article “It’s Diesel’s Time to Shine,” Consumer Guide Automotive lists 11 advantages (and some drawbacks) to owning a diesel-powered car. The main reason is fuel economy. According to the EPA, the TDI (turbodiesel) versions of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, Golf, and Jetta SportWagen each get 34 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
Those are good numbers, but VW TDI enthusiasts insist that those estimates are low. And we agree. In real-world driving (with, admittedly, an emphasis on highway driving), we greatly exceeded the EPA estimates with the Passat, Golf, and Jetta SportWagen.
Below are the fuel-economy numbers that we got while driving these cars, as well as comments by the drivers. The Passat numbers are especially impressive considering the car’s size. It has the second-largest wheelbase in the midsize-car class; it’s a big, roomy sedan. The Jetta SportWagen is one of the heaviest vehicles in the compact-car class, and yet we still exceeded 43 mpg with that car. Now if diesel fuel just weren’t so darn expensive. . . .
2012 Passat TDI
39.7 mpg over 683 miles
David Aretha: Got 39.0 mpg over 51 miles (100% city). This was all in stop-and-go, 40-mph-and-below traffic—usually with the heat blasting.
Don Sikora: 46.87 mpg (!!) over 331.9 miles of 85% highway. Much of the highway was non-Interstate at about 55 mph. Trip computer often had me over 50 mpg.
Rick Cotta: 31.6 in 179 miles of 50% highway. Good, but hoped for better.
Ed Piotrowski: 38.55 mpg in 121 miles, 60% highway. Sweet.
2010 Golf TDI
42.2 mpg over 986 miles
Don Sikora: 44.74 mpg over 404.1 miles of 95% highway. The trip computer said I still had 285 miles until empty!
Rick Cotta: 42.6 in 385 miles of 15% city.
Damon Bell: 26.91 mpg in 61 miles of 95% city.
2010 Jetta SportWagen TDI
43.4 mpg over 864 miles
Rick Cotta: 47.7 in 365 miles of 85% highway—much of it into a strong headwind. Impressive.
Don Sikora: 46.3 mpg over 313.2 miles of 95% highway.
Jack Stewart: 29.6 mpg over 100% city, 68 miles.
Jennifer Geiger: I averaged 36.9 mpg over 118 miles of 75% city driving.