November 10, 2014
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.
November 7, 2014
You're really getting your money's worth today. This is more than just an October fuel economy update for our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI long-term test car.
It's also a 20,000-mile milestone post.
Who'd have thought our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI would reach its 12-month mileage target with 4 weeks to spare? I'm not sure I would have taken that bet last November, especially since we had already been driving an identical silver TDI diesel version when this gasoline one arrived.
Turns out the Passat has endeared itself by being a capable family runabout and a credible highway cruiser. And it can be quite efficient if you put your mind to it, as Mike Monticello showed us last month.
October 15, 2014
Styling is subjective, I know that. But still, I'm struck by how handsome our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI is. To my eyes, it embodies a clean, neatly-tailored design reminiscent of its upscale Audi cousins. No exaggerated swoops along the body sides, no bulging headlights, no discordant taillights.
October 9, 2014
Day 4: Willcox, Arizona to Lake Forest, California, 571 miles.
Another early morning wake-up call on my Texas Road Trip. Partially because, once again, I wanted to get in a run before I hit the road in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI, and partially because I wanted to get home at a reasonable hour to get some things done.
Arizona had gotten some rain the day before, and the sky was full of leftover clouds for a cool-looking sunrise. It also helped my mood that I found a much nicer backroad to run on near my hotel, kind of off in the country, than I had on my trip over in New Mexico. I'm telling you, I'm loving this early-morning run thing on road trips. Even if it means sacrificing 45 minutes or so of sleep.
I took a slightly different route home to California than I had to Texas.
October 8, 2014
How boring, I mean efficient, was he?
October 2, 2014
Day 3: Austin, Texas to Willcox, Arizona, 805 miles.
With the 2015 Audi S3 press event over and done in Austin, I wasn't as constrained by time commitments for the homeward-bound portion of the Texas Road Trip. That meant I could sleep in a little bit and go for a relaxing (albeit hot and muggy) run down by the Colorado River. I was on the road by 9:45 a.m., earlier than Day 1's 1:30 p.m., more civilized than Day 2's 6:30 a.m. wheels-up time.
Plus, I knew I would have time changes on my side heading west in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI.
October 1, 2014
Day 2: Deming, New Mexico to Austin, Texas, 681 miles.
Something I haven't done on previous multi-day road trips, but that I wanted to try with this one, was to go for a run each morning before I hit the road in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI. There were a couple of reasons for this: First, I don't eat particularly well on the road, so the running partially makes up for it. Second, exercise is a good way to wake the ol' bod up first thing.
So, around 5:30 in the morning there I was, running in the rain in the dark on an access road next to Interstate 10 in New Mexico. Got soaked, but it was worth it. Felt good.
September 26, 2014
The odometer clicked past the 15,000-mile mark on our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI. The car continues to put those miles on without any mechanical hassles.
Also, our lifetime fuel economy has increased to 27.2 mpg.
So, what to do next?
September 4, 2014
In August, we drove our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI about 1,700 miles and averaged 28.2 mpg. It wasn't as busy as July for the silver sedan, when we added 3,200 miles to the odometer, but we still drove the Passat up to central California for a weekend and on a day trip out the farther reaches of Los Angeles County.
August 5, 2014
It's been a busy month for our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI, 3,222 miles in several long road trips, the most miles in any month since we got the silver sedan.
That's probably why this also was one of the VW's best months ever for fuel efficiency.
July 28, 2014
After staying in Chandler, Arizona for the night, it was off to Nissan's proving grounds in Stanfield the next morning to get some background information on the 2015 Nissan Murano.
July 24, 2014
Just as with our 5,000-mile update, it's continued to be smooth sailing, mechanically, up to the 10,000-mile mark for the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI.
July 07, 2014
My family and I just got back from a road trip to Mammoth Lakes, California. The full story of that trip and our experiences in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI will have to wait for another update (or two); this post is all about the car's fuel economy over the last month.
June 5, 2014
Back in March, we set a new low for fuel economy in our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI at 21.1 mpg. In May that figure dropped even lower to our worse tank yet, just 18.7 mpg.
With our best fill holding at 33 mpg, our new lifetime average for the car is now less than 26 mpg, or 2 mpg lower than the EPA's combined city/highway rating of 28 mpg.
April 28, 2014
I took a day trip in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI with a friend who is really into old Mercedes. He said this Passat makes him think of the '80s-era S-Class Mercedes. In particular he mentioned it was the simplicity of the dash layout, the size of cabin (particularly the backseat) and the overall feel of solid German engineering that impressed him. Not only that, but it's a car that actually has some character.
But there are at least two big differences between this 2014 VW and a 1980s era Mercedes.
April 7, 2014
We put 1,017 miles on our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI in March. Almost of all of it was city driving, and we're learning that VW's 170-horsepower, turbocharged and direct-injected, 1.8-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine is quite sensitive to driving style in these conditions. We set a new low for mpg at 21.1 mpg, well short of the car's 24 mpg EPA city rating.
March 19, 2014
Our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI's 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is one of the great engines out there, boasting energetic power and excellent fuel economy. It certainly seems well-suited to our big Passat, bringing it from zero to 60 mph in a quicker-than-average 7.7 seconds and thus-far returning 27 mpg (versus an EPA 28). Plus, it hasn't done many miles at this point, so future road trips could improve that number.
However, this engine gets even better in smaller vehicles. It's a major reason to buy the otherwise unremarkable Jetta, and was thoroughly impressive in a European-market Seat Leon I rented recently while on vacation in Switzerland.
March 3, 2014
With nearly 5,000 miles on the clock, our gas-powered 2014 VW Passat TSI is starting to hit its stride when it comes to mileage. A long highway stretch netted 33 miles per gallon, easily its best showing yet. Overall mileage improved to 27.1 mpg which moves it closer to its combined rating of 28 mpg.
February 4, 2014
We put 1,251 miles on our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI in the first month of 2014. Almost of all of that was city driving, so we set a new low for mpg at 24.1 mpg. That matches the car's EPA city rating, so if that's the worst we can do in Southern California traffic, it speaks well of VW's turbocharged and direct-injected, 1.8-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine.
Our best tank of the month came in at 25.7 mpg, which is quite a bit below our lifetime high of 27.6. More important, it's well short of our Passat's 28 mpg combined rating and 34 mpg highway rating.
January 31, 2014
I love that our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI test car has an enormous 18.5-gallon gas tank. Most sedans are in the 16-17 gallon range.
January 3, 2014
The end of December marked the end of our first month with our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI and its fuel-economy-centric 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Thanks to fairly impressive range, we've only run through three tanks of fuel over more than 1,200 miles of driving.
What kind of fuel economy is our new gasoline-powered Passat returning and, importantly, how is it comparing to our diesel Passat? Find out below.