2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: Perfect Road Trip Car?
August 16, 2013
The perfect car for the journey. That pretty much sums up my experience with the Volkswagen Passat TDI as it transported two couples and a trunk filled with their stuff to Las Vegas and back. The only better cars would surely cost $90,000.
As a 6-foot-3 driver, it's not very often that a full-size adult can fit behind me over long distances without one of us feeling mushed. Yet with the giant Passat, I didn't have to (as usual) put my tiny wife behind me or even care how far I moved my seat back. As for the trunk, it managed three sizeable Roll-aboard suitcases, an overnight bag, my briefcase and a 36-liter roller cooler that impressively fit all the way rearward. No Tetris needed, it all went in without effort.
Big deal, you might say. A lot of full-size sedans could manage that. Perhaps, but how many could've achieved 41.2 mpg on the journey? That's not as good as the in-car meter reported (46.3 mpg) or an empty Passat TDI accomplished in our ironically named 40-MPG Challenge (51.3 mpg), but it's still better than the EPA's 40 estimate. Furthermore, driving the Passat TDI is vastly better than some equally fuel-sipping hybrid. Its torque-rich engine is definitely a boon when trying to pass left-lane automotive ruminants on southbound Interstate 15, which on a Sunday, has to be the most aggravating stretch of freeway on the planet. Seriously, how damn hard is it to maintain your speed on a hill? If you're having trouble, there's this thing called cruise control.
Where was I? Ah yes, the Passat TDI. I said in the beginning that the only better cars would cost $90,000, thinking about the Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec and Audi A8 TDI. On second thought, though, the A8 has a significantly smaller trunk than the Passat and the S350 is likely to fall 10 mpg short of the humble Volkswagen. So in that way, I feel safe in calling this one. The VW Passat TDI: the perfect car for a road trip with four adults.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 5,653 miles