1000 Mile Dinner - 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: 1000 Mile Dinner

October 27, 2011

Ferrariengine-MMNAT.jpgActually it was only a 100 miles, but Santa Barbara is a long way to go for dinner, even if I was curious about the Mille Miglia North America Tribute, an adjunct of the classic, 1,000-mile, Italian road event for old cars.

I’ve done dumber things than drive 100 miles for dinner, but of course the bar is pretty high in that respect. For example, it seemed even dumber to start out on a 200-mile round trip late on a Tuesday afternoon with only a half tank of fuel, even in the Jetta TDI.

Numberplate-MMNAT.jpgI could hear the voice of my dad in my head telling me to fuel up before I started, no matter what kind of cruising range the Jetta turbodiesel might promise. Sixty years ago, he worked at Pan American Airways with old pilots who could still remember not being sure if they could get the airplane all the way to their destination, much less find the airport when they got there, so a full tank of fuel was always a good thing to have.

But of course I went the back way to Santa Barbara along the coast and then through the strawberry fields in Oxnard in order to avoid traffic on the main freeways and there were not so many gas stations along the way and was late besides and so never stopped.

This is not a big deal, of course. It’s only interesting because it shows you how you recalibrate your cruising range expectations when you’ve got the fuel economy of a diesel going for you. I quit thinking about fueling up pretty quickly. And it’s not like there weren’t gas stations with diesel pumps along the way if I went looking for them.

Corvettesignage-MMNAT.jpg Once I got to the event and saw some cars and met some people who were about to set off on 1,000 miles of back roads in California over the next three days, I realized that in fact the Jetta TDI could probably make the Mille Miglia on just one pit stop along the way.

When it comes to pit stops, I’m always in favor of making fewer of them. We all watched the Audi R18 TDI win the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year by making fewer pit stops than the Peugeot turbodiesel. And I’ve even picked up a trophy in some races myself by making fewer pit stops, although the most notable example came in a Renault Le Car that was less powerful than a lawn tractor so there wasn’t any other strategy really possible in any case.

tbucket-MMNAT.jpg So when the dinner wrapped up and I started back to Los Angeles at midnight, I didn’t stop for fuel during the 100 miles back home, either. Of course I had the warm glow of the cruising range calculation on the tripmeter to reassure me along the way. Nevertheless, my pit stop didn’t come until the following morning at the office with a total of 495 miles elapsed on the tripmeter for the complete tank of fuel and still had an eighth of the tank remaining.

I love skipping pit stops.

Our guy Montoya, who is a crazy man with the Golf TDI he owns, quickly brought me down, though. He said I was a total wimp for not pushing the Jetta all the way to empty. Could have had another 80 miles easy, he said.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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