2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Going After the Range Record
August 18, 2011
When the mpg record I set in the Jetta TDI was topped, I felt like I needed to do something to regain my diesel street cred. I've done some serious highway driving in my 2010 Golf TDI recently and I was in a position to beat the Jetta's range record of 564 miles, set a few months back. It wouldnt quite be an apples-to-apples comparison, since the Jetta weighs about 170 pounds more, but they both have the same size fuel tanks (14.5 gallons). And it would make for an interesting challenge.
On this particular tank of gas, I had driven from Santa Barbara to LA, went round trip to Palm Desert and drove a few days to and from work. I had broken my personal range record of 519.9 miles and had gotten to about 542 miles when the low-fuel warning light came on.
I drove home that day determined to beat the record. When I left the office, the needle on the fuel gauge was sitting at the top of the red zone. My range indicator said I was about 45 miles away from empty. It would be close, but I figured I had more than enough fuel to beat this record.
I caught traffic on the way home, which made the range drop rapidly. I also noticed that the needle moved much quicker towards empty. About halfway home, the range was down to 10 miles. I decided to throw in the towel and head for the nearest exit.
My navigation system told me that there was a gas station that carried diesel right off the exit. That turned out to be wrong. Maybe the station had diesel at some point, but for the moment, I needed to find someplace else. I was getting pretty nervous and perhaps suffering from diesel range anxiety. Luckily, there were two other stations nearby. I pulled into the closest one but then realized that the gas tank was on the opposite side (Yes, this was my own car, but this is what happens when you drive different cars). The moment I pulled out to turn around, a car swooped in and took my pump. "Not a big deal," I said to myself, "No need to road rage over this. There's another station a few blocks up."
The other station had plenty of free spaces -- probably because they were charging twenty cents more per gallon. I was desperate, but I couldn't fill up in good conscience, knowing that the station down the road was much cheaper. I went back to the busy station and found a place to refuel.
The final range was 555.8. I filled up with 14.066 gallons. I came pretty close, but I didn't break the record. I didn't even break the "most fuel put into the car" record. Someone else had put 14.085 gallons in the Jetta, but, surprisingly, only went 480.9 miles on that tank.
My fuel economy for this tank was 39.5 miles per gallon.
What's the furthest you've driven in your car?
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 13,357 miles (on the Golf)