2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI vs. Ford Fusion Hybrid
April 15, 2014
A friend of mine is in the market for a new car, and specifically a midsize family sedan with good fuel economy. I suggested he take a look at our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI and he was quite impressed when I brought it by. Mainly, the enormous back seat means he can set the front seats as far back as he wants without worrying about bumping up against his rear-facing child seat. When you're 6-foot-4 like he is, that matters. The cavernous trunk was another attraction. His wife was almost in shock at how deep it was.
However, the Ford Fusion Hybrid has also caught his eye. Although I was quite impressed with it during our hybrid sedan comparison test, my gut reaction was that it would be considerably more expensive than the Passat TDI. I was wrong.
Since our Passat is a 2013, I compared the pricing with the slightly cheaper 2014 Passat TDI SEL that costs $33,395. If you option up a Ford Fusion Hybrid with all the Passat SEL's features, it hits the register at $33,460. In other words, they're a rounding error away from being equally priced.
OK, so those are loaded versions. Or rather, the Passat is, since there are luxury (ventilated seats, heated wheel) and copious safety (lane departure warning, automatic parking, etc.) options further available on the Fusion.
What about lower trims? The base Passat SE w/ Sunroof (the cheapest way to get an automatic) costs $28,675. A similarly equipped Fusion Hybrid SE with an optional sunroof and basic MyFordTouch (for the rearview camera) costs $30,095. A bigger difference to be sure, but not as significant as I originally thought.
Of course, fuel economy is important with both of these models. According to EPA estimates, the Passat TDI will achieve 34 mpg combined (30 city/40 highway). The Fusion highway gets an estimated 47 mpg in every cycle. Furthermore, the EPA estimates you'll spend $1,750 to refuel the Passat every year versus $1,150 for the Fusion. Just for kicks, the new 1.5-liter regular Fusion will cost $1,900.
In Edmunds testing, we've routinely done better than the EPA ratings for the Passat, including a run on Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles that topped 50 mpg. On that same run, the Fusion Hybrid managed 44 mpg. In the city and suburbia, however, the Fusion will trounce the Passat. We got 53 mpg on our suburban driving loop during the aforementioned comparison test. In a different but similar fuel economy test the Passat TDI got 43 mpg.
Given the negligible difference in price and the Fusion's fuel economy advantage, it would seem like opting for the Ford would be the better financial choice. The fact that Edmunds' True Cost to Own data shows the Fusion Hybrid being more than $11,000 cheaper over the course of five years drives that point home further.
So, I suppose I'll be recommending the Fusion Hybrid to my friend. The back seat is still very large, and although the trunk is compromised by its battery pack, it should still be useful enough for his small family. He doesn't really need the Passat's cavern.
The question now is, which does he prefer?
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 17,533 miles