May 19, 2014
It's over. I've completed two identical 458-mile loops to Las Vegas and back in our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI. The only difference was the fuel: Diesel #2 on the first loop and a B5 biodiesel brew on the second loop.
I say "biodiesel brew" because I was forced to MacGyver my own B5 by blending B20 biodiesel with Diesel #2 right in the Passat's tank. There wasn't another station close enough to be of any use, and I had just learned (the hard way) that the biodiesel locator Web site I'd used to find this place wasn't much use for finding anything under B20, the prevailing blend carried by suppliers around here.
Here's what I learned.
May 12, 2014
I drove our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI two weeks ago, and then took our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI to Las Vegas for three days. Out in the lonely desert, I had a lot of time to think about which V-Dub I liked best. While the two cars look similar, they drive quite differently, mainly because of the engines and transmissions. Here's my quick take on the differences.
May 9, 2014
Scott's recent experience at a biodiesel pump got us both thinking. Would biodiesel make a noticeable difference in the performance or MPG of our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI?
A test was in order, but it seemed to me that the 5-percent biodiesel fuel (B5) allowed by VW might produce small differences that would be difficult to quantify. If I was to make sense of this I needed to control as many variables as possible. And I needed a fairly long route that would burn enough fuel to nullify any pump-shutoff inconsistencies.
Fortunately, I had a business trip to Las Vegas coming up, one that I had planned to drive to anyway. My time was spoken for all day Friday and Saturday evening, but the bulk of Saturday was mine.
I despise gambling and I'm behind on my audiobooks, so I decided to drive the TDI to Vegas on Thursday as scheduled on diesel #2 and park it in the Hard Rock Hotel parking garage while I attended to my Friday obligations, then drive BACK to southern California on Saturday morning.
Once there I'd fill it with B5 biodiesel, turn straight around and retrace my route back to Vegas in time to make my evening appointment. After another overnight stay I'll head home and finish the B5 loop on Sunday morning.
It was a good plan, if not a bit insane, but then a fuel supply problem cropped up at the 11th hour.
April 9, 2014
The knock against diesels used to be that they were noisy, slow and smelly. Driving our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI the other day, it struck me as so refined, and so responsive, that a strange thought occurred to me. I began to wonder what would happen if a person was somehow plunked down behind the wheel of this car, with no prior knowledge of what they were driving. Could they tell it was a diesel?
I know what many of you are thinking you would know instantly. But you're enthusiasts and you pay attention to detail. But what about a completely ordinary person only wanting to reliably get from Point A to Point B? Well, I had a chance to run a blind taste test and you might be surprised at the result.
March 14, 2014
There are a lot of things to like about our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI. Here are seven I noted after a weekend with the car. I hardly drove anywhere, so the car's astonishing range is not in the list:
1. Feels big, drives small: The 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI is plenty roomy on the inside, but it drives and parks like a much smaller car.
2. Easy Bluetooth Audio. Many cars have fussy steps for instituting Bluetooth Audio. Not this car. It's a snap.
3. Ginormous trunk space. I can't fill it up, even at Costco. I keep trying.
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.
November 12, 2013
I just drove our long-term 2013 VW Passat TDI from Tinsel Town to Sin City and back. If you're under 75 years old, you probably have no idea what I just said, so let me start over.
I just drove our long-term VW Passat TDI from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back. That's 576.2 miles. But here's the cool part. I did it on a single tank of fuel. Actually, I did it on three-quarters of a tank of fuel. When I returned home the Passat was still packing 155 miles worth of fuel range. Wow.
Trust me, I'm no hypermiler. But I did use the Passat's cruise control for most of the trip, and I hit zero traffic along the way. My average fuel economy was 40.7 mpg, which is just ahead of the Passat's EPA highway rating of 40 mpg.
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 2, 2013
Earlier this week, I made a road trip from Los Angeles to California's Napa Valley and back in 30 hours. Needless to say, there was little time to linger in the tasting rooms, but it was a relaxing trip in our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI.
I've told you before how I like the way this car rides around L.A., and that also held true over the monotonous stretches of Interstate 5. The driver seat ranks above average in my book, too. I rarely got uncomfortable, even on the return leg when I hopped into the Passat for the 450-mile trip after a day of driving other cars around Napa.
It's also a quiet ride. I'm not thrilled with the sealing properties of the driver door's weather stripping, which lets in more wind than I'd like (though it's not nearly as bad as the seals on our long-term GTI), but there's minimal noise from the tires.
August 8, 2013
I recently became a homeowner, and as you might guess from the exterior paint, said home is a true fixer-upper. My task this weekend was to unearth the house's original wood floors from decades of carpeting and prepare them for refinishing. I made countless runs between the house and the hardware store in our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI. Later in the weekend, when our work was finished, we made a trip to Angel Stadium for Sunday's Angels-Blue Jays game.
I've driven the current-generation Passat 2.5 before, and it didn't do much for me. But the more I drove our diesel Passat, the more I liked it.
July 9, 2013
Great fuel economy is why you buy a 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI. But if you happen to find yourself on a curvy two-lane road, the handling capabilities of this fuel miser are still on par for a family sedan.
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.