2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI vs. Ford Fusion Hybrid - 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI vs. Ford Fusion Hybrid

April 15, 2014

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

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


  • diigii diigii Posts:

    The Ford Fusion Hybrid is $11,000 cheaper, you say. But how much will the battery replacement be in the future?

  • Its an interesting choice, hopefully you will let us know which the family picks and why. I've posted a few times here, owning a '13 SE TDI. My brother recently bought an '11 Fusion Hybrid, loaded, as a CPO. I drove it last weekend. It's the most seamless hybrid I have experienced, though in honesty my only other experiences have been Priuses. I'm sure the newer one is better still. The Fusion drove very nicely. I did find myself "working" however to try to get the most electric use out of it. I wonder if I would tire of that. Spacewise, it wasn't a contest, the Fusion was much tighter. Still, I totally understand why by brother bought it. A great car, and the hybrid engines have been pretty wrung out on the NYC taxi circuit on Escapes, and seem to have performed impressively. He showed 42.2 mpg on the computer, driving mostly highway miles. As for me, so far no regrets about my choice.

  • cjasis cjasis Posts:

    How much freeway vs. in town driving will he be doing? Also, how much of the Edmunds price difference is due to depreciation? If he plans on keeping the car, then a lot of that differential isn't as relevant as it would otherwise be. Personally, I'd take the Passat because I HATE the Ford Sync too much to own a car with it.

  • juddholl10 juddholl10 Posts:

    Ok then you're a bad friend because who wants to own a Ford more than a Volkswagen?

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    @diigii: hybrids have been readily available for over a decade, they fill taxi fleets in major cities. They routinely exceed 100k miles on the original batteries. You are making an argument that made sense in 2004, but not in 2014. At this point there is

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    I meant, when buying new you should not conisder batter replacement as a factor any more than you would engine or transmission replacement. And even used it's not really an issue. Replacement Prius batteries are far less expensive than a transmission or engine.

  • shepski shepski Posts:

    "Ok then you're a bad friend because who wants to own a Ford more than a Volkswagen?" Hmmm... 2006 Ford GT, or VW... What? I'd take a Fiesta (or perhaps Focus) ST over a GTI, too. Meanwhile, that being said, were I the friend trying to choose between a Passat TDI or Fusion Hybrid, I'd only need to ask one question: Which one can be had with a stick? Done.

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