Currently Kicking the TDI Diesel's Butt - 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI Long-Term Road Test

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Currently Kicking the TDI Diesel's Butt

November 10, 2014

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI

The gasoline versus diesel question is one of those math problems that doesn't have a fixed answer. As of today our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI is beating the pants off the TDI version. But six months ago it was the other way around in my neck of the woods.

It all has to do with the relative price of the two fuels involved: 87-octane regular unleaded and low-sulfur diesel.

This week the national average price of regular unleaded fell to $2.98 per gallon. Diesel, on the other hand, currently sits at $3.60 per gallon. But the Passat TDI enjoys a substantial rated fuel economy advantage of 34 mpg versus 28 mpg combined for our TSI gasoline model, and the extra efficiency boils down to a net TDI savings of...

$10 per year.

The TDI version costs $2,100 more, so the TDI payback period currently stands at a somewhat discouraging 210 years. Perhaps you prefer to think in terms of miles driven because you drive more than the assumed 15,000 miles per year. Fair enough. At today's prices the TDI will start paying you back after a mere 3.16 million miles.

But the price relationship between gasoline and diesel is a stormy one, and one-size-fits-all national statistics don't mean much in the face of substantial regional price variations.

So here are a few more payback scenarios.

The first chart uses the aforementioned EPA Combined ratings for the Passat TDI and TSI (34 and 28 mpg, respectively.) The fuel prices are the reported average according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report in the locations specified. The lone exception is the Orange County pricing, which I got off the sign at my local filling station.

 

Gasoline

Diesel

Annual
Savings

Payback
(years)

Payback
(miles)

National average

2.98

3.596

$9.96

211

3,163,291

Orange County

3.159

3.699

$60.41

35

521,440

Alaska

3.713

3.933

$253.96

8

124,035

New Hampshire

3.029

3.495

$80.77

26

390,012

Michigan

2.951

3.806

-$98.22

Never

Never

Everything is the same on the second chart with one exception. I used the year-end fuel consumption average of our long-term test cars instead of the EPA ratings. Our dearly departed 2013 Passat TDI beat its EPA estimate with an average of 37.2 mpg and our current 2014 Passat TSI has just crossed the 20,000-mile threshold at 28.1 mpg.

 

Gasoline

Diesel

Annual
Savings

Payback
(years)

Payback
(miles)

National average

2.98

3.596

$140.75

15

223,805

Orange County

3.159

3.699

$194.77

11

161,732

Alaska

3.713

3.933

$396.14

5

79,517

New Hampshire

3.029

3.495

$207.63

10

151,712

Michigan

2.951

3.806

$40.59

52

776,063

The long-term TDI's overachieving performance improves the payback considerably, but it's still longer than most people keep their cars.

Except Alaska. A diesel VW Passat seems to make a lot more economic sense there right now.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,294 miles


2014 Volkswagen Passat

See 2014 Volkswagen Passat Inventory in Your Area

Build and Price Your Car Used TMV from $11,250


  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term

Leave a Comment
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Past Long-Term Road Tests