May 14, 2014
It happened on Interstate 15 on the first of two Las Vegas diesel fuel economy runs. Our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI was barely 5 miles inside California and drawing abreast of the Ivanpah Solar Power facility.
This trio of power towers stands within easy sight of the Interstate. The three arrays of heliostat mirrors that encircle them consume a combined 5.5 square miles of desert. A weird and eerie plasmatic glow hovers in the air several yards removed from the impossibly bright surface of the receivers that top each tower. In the bright desert daylight it's still quite easy to make out the rays of light that converge on the receivers.
I'd hate to be a bird flying through there.
May 2, 2014
I'm sitting in my brother-in-law's San Jose, CA living room looking for any excuse to bail. After five hours of extended family time, I need a break. So I ask if there's a gas station around that sells diesel. Yesterday I had driven our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI up to his house from Los Angeles and we were making the return run later today.
"There's one about a mile away", he says. "But we should fill it with biodiesel."
April 28, 2014
I spent the weekend with our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI. This was the first time I drove a diesel-fueled car for more than a few hours, and I was excited to see if it behaved any differently than the hundreds of gasoline-powered sedans I've driven over the years.
I noticed two things: The turbo lag at acceleration and the Passat's sound while idling after a cold start. Neither of these things bothered me. I picked up the car on Thursday afternoon, and was used to these quirks by Friday evening.
March 7, 2014
Our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI crossed the 15,000-mile mark.
February 24, 2014
As you can see, our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI wasn't built in Germany. It was assembled by some well trained workers at a plant in Tennessee. This is not only a big deal for the people in and around Chattanooga, it was a big deal for Volkswagen, too.
February 21, 2014
Any car equipped with an automatic transmission should have a good dead pedal, otherwise known as a good place to put your left foot. You'd be surprised how many cars don't bother with one.
February 18, 2014
As you can see here, our navigation system-equipped 2013 VW Passat TDI has a secondary navigation display located dead center in the instrument cluster. This small, multi-function display screen provides other information too, such as phone, audio and trip data. But while tooling around over the weekend to parts unknown, this no frills display proved helpful.
January 17, 2014
If you're shopping for a midsize sedan, I suspect one of the trickier aspects is just figuring out which model is going to be best for you. Once you get past the obvious Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the array of choices can be rather intimidating, especially if you don't often pay attention to what's new these days.
January 15, 2014
We've written plenty of updates about our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI's impressive fuel economy and range. But one other thing about the TDI engine that I happen to like is that its character is so different than the norm for four-cylinder midsize family sedans.
January 2, 2014
I haven't spent much time in our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI. I'm going to try to correct that over its final 8,000 miles or so.
There's a lot to like here.
For instance, this turbodiesel can effortlessly rack up over 600 miles between fill-ups.
December 23, 2013
At first glance it might look as though our two Passats are identical. They are, in fact, the same color and trim, but they have one major distinction: their engines.
The only way to tell them apart on the outside is by the badges on their respective trunklids. The gasoline-powered Passat is badged as a "TSI" while the diesel-powered car is labeled "TDI". What do they mean exactly?
December 05, 2013
This morning our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI came to the aid of a car with a dead battery. We used the Passat to jump start a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, whose battery had died while the car was plugged in charging. Yep, we got a laugh out of that one, too.
November 29, 2013
I found myself sitting in our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI the other morning admiring the sunrise. So I climbed out and started taking pictures. The Passat certainly isn't the most striking of designs, but I like it. There is something about its lines that I find soothing. I could get used to seeing it every morning. Or do I need to get my eyes checked?
November 11, 2013
Since May, we've driven our long-term 2013 VW Passat TDI 10,000 very satisfying miles. In that time we've averaged 36.8 miles per gallon of fuel and have yet to experience any unreliability or mechanical issues. In fact, the Passat is only now due for its very first scheduled oil change and maintenance, which we will take care of shortly.
November 7, 2013
Our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI has developed an air leak. No, not from a tire or intake, it's coming from the passenger-side rear window or door.
October 28, 2013
As we've been reporting since we got our 2013 Volkswagen Passat as a long-term test, the TDI diesel engine is pretty cool. It's fuel efficient, suitably powered for everyday driving and provides a very impressive amount of fuel range. It's got some character, too.
But if I were thinking about buying a Passat for the 2014 model year, I'd have a harder time immediately making the TDI my engine of choice.
October 17, 2013
One of the aspects that I've come to appreciate more with our 2013 Volkswagen Passat is its styling. There's nothing really flashy or dramatic going on. Instead, the Passat just looks clean and handsome to me.
From a long-term ownership standpoint, I think that's important.
October 11, 2013
You may have seen us mention in some other updates that the brakes in our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL can seem inconsistent (or "grabby") when coming to a stop. I've got more on the subject.
September 30, 2013
When I was growing up my older sister was always on the phone. This was back in the day before call-waiting, texting, etc. So, she tied up the home line for hours. I'm the total opposite. I dislike talking on the phone and to this day, very rarely talk on the phone while driving.
September 26, 2013
Our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI comes with a rear-view camera standard in the SEL Premium edition.
Some safety advocates are suing the federal government to make rear-view cameras mandatory on new cars.
September 13, 2013
Take a look underneath our long-term VW Passat TDI. Photos by Scott Jacobs.
July 18, 2013
If I were a sales rep who had to do a lot of driving, I would love to have our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI as my company car. (And yes, I'll have to assume here that I'd be good enough of a sales rep to get a company car.)
July 11, 2013
Recently I came across a study that concluded that a diesel-fuelled new car can save its owner potentially thousands of dollars over five years of ownership compared to a regular gasoline version of the same car.
June 25, 2013
This is more the fault of the gas station and diesel fuel in general than of our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI, but pumping diesel fuel is dirty business.
June 18, 2013
Our 2013 Volkswagen Passat shouldn't really get credit for having a simple shift mechanism. That sort of thing used to be standard in any car with an automatic. But these days such a setup isn't guaranteed.
June 14, 2013
It's what VW's TDI-powered cars are famous for: range. But until I refueled today it hadn't registered with me how far this car will go on a single tank. Try 750 miles according to the on-board computer. For perspective, that's enough range to drive from our office in Santa Monica to Salt Lake City, Utah.
June 13, 2013
Diesels are torquey. This isn't news. However, the diesel in our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI really squirts when you give the right pedal a healthy roll-on from a standstill. In fact, after a very brief pause as the variable-nozzle turbo works up enough steam, the boost comes on, and the torque hits so hard that this big sedan will actually rip a tire loose momentarily before the traction control intervenes. Again, this is not even using full "throttle." I'm loving this engine already.
June 11, 2013
I noticed it as soon as I started driving. The Passat's seat isn't centered on its steering wheel. And it makes me crazy.
May 30, 2013
Years ago when I wrote a full test of the then newly-redesigned 2006 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T, it had a very handy umbrella tucked into the driver door panel. You might find that a bit gimmicky but the car also had two cooled storages compartments and a number of clever storage areas throughout.
You could argue that in 2006 the Passat had gotten a little big for its breeches. As my mother would say, it was putting on airs, reaching out of its class. The same was happening throughout the segment, the cars were getting larger, packed with more features and the prices were climbing. Wasn't this supposed to be an affordable segment?
In recent years, Volkswagen redesigned the Passat by making it roomier, downgrading the interior materials and dropping the price. It was back where it should have been before hyperinflation.
May 27, 2013
We've added a 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI to our long-term test fleet.
Its turbodiesel engine outputs 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque while earning an EPA rating of 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway/34 mpg combined. And VW claims a range of 740 miles on a single tank of diesel fuel.
Passats are usually pretty nice inside and we opted for the SEL Premium which has an even more elegant interior with leather-trimmed sport seats, memory controls, dual-zone climate controls and an always helpful rearview backup camera.