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2012 VW Passat Six-Month Road Test: Wash, Wax, And 40.5 MPG

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It's been nearly a month since we took delivery of our Six-Month Road Test sedan, the 2012 VW Passat TDI. In that time, it's rarely sat in Park for more than a day or two in the garage. Mostly, the TDI's been on the interstates and on long-distance treks, accumulating more than 3000 miles as it road-tripped to Washington, D.C., then on to Nashville, and down to the Florida Pandhandle for Memorial Day weekend.

Now that it's fully broken in, the Passat is turning in some lofty fuel-economy figures. On the cumulative clock, it's reporting 40.5 miles per gallon of diesel, up from the 36 miles per gallon we saw on its first tank of fuel. It's feeling a little more eager to spin, too, though the narrow powerband won't ever be confused for a Japanese-style redline revver. On one tank of diesel run out between Front Royal, Virginia, and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the Passat was delivering in excess of 41.5 miles per gallon on the highway, even at a steady 75-mph clip.

Another pleasant bit of news: the price of diesel seems to be lingering just a couple of dimes higher here in the South, where we've paid as little as $3.749 a gallon for the low-sulfur stuff--as opposed to an average of about $3.55 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline.

In almost four weeks of use, the only service we'd performed to the Passat TDI is what you see here--a good carwash and interior cleaning, coupled with a post-beach de-sanding. The Passat's leatherette interior is especially easy to clean, but the more rubbery material that lines the cupholders wants to cling to dirt and dust with more tenacity. It may not quite measure up to the other excitement in the detailing line--a Tesla Roadster, a Corvette Z06, and a 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28--but the Passat is if anything, easy to scrub clean, since its body isn't cluttered with a lot of add-on metallic trim or extraneous detail.

Before we could let it go off-duty for a week, the Passat triggered a tire-pressure alert on the road home from Pensacola. The warning came a little sooner than we expected on a brand-new set of tires, perhaps, but a quick check showed the warm tires at just over 30 psi--a few pounds short of recommended pressure of 33 psi, which translates to about 36 psi when warm. Topped off, the light went away, but we're watching it on short errands this week to make sure it's not another issue before our next trek.

This weekend the TDI hits I-85 again for a relatively short trip to North Carolina. Next week, we'll bring you some live shots of the Passat on the ground at its first bar mitzvah. Wish us happy trails. Or in this case, mazel tov.

Read our full review of the 2012 VW Passat--or stay up to date on our 2012 Hyundai Veloster and our 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI in our Six-Month Road Test section.

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Comments (10)
  1. The new Passat sounds like a winner in so many ways, but how does the V-Tex leatherette feel? Is it hot or sticky in summer? Is it a good substitute for cloth? How is the back seat for comfort without rear A/C vents?
     
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  2. It feels as good as any of the economy-car leathers that are made of scraps and put together well post-cow. The heat's an issue, admittedly: it's 93 today in Atlanta and the car's interior is a good 10 degrees warmer, sitting outside the garage. We'd rather have cloth but it's not offered; the back seat does get warm with the lack of vents and the wide-open space it offers, but in most climates--north of I-10?--you might not feel it's a real problem for more than a few days at a time.
     
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  3. Keep it in the fleet longer and see how well it holds up. VWs fall apart after a year or two.
     
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  4. I have been driving them for 40 years and none have fallen apart yet. Maybe you are confusing them with one of the domestic brands.
     
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  5. @ Bill Lindsay

    My parents went on their honeymoon in a split window beetle, I came home from the hospital in my mom's lap in a barn door Type 2. I literally grew up in Volkswagens. I've owned about 30 including about every iteration save the Type 4. My '75 Rabbit was unquestionably the worst car I ever owned, my 2000 Cabriolet not far behind. I traded the latter for a Toyota and never looked back.

    Here in the northeast, the diesel is at a disadvantage because of a 10-12% fuel price disadvantage. I dearly loved every diesel VW I ever owned, but my Prius with 234K has cost me less to run than any VW I've ever owned.

    I sincerely wish VW the best, and, if they ever get around to bringing the diesel Up! to the US they may yet snag me again...
     
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  6. 37 years is along time to hold a grudge.
     
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  7. Odd that they don't offer a cloth interior?
     
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  8. Purchased a Passat 2012 0n 3/21. 5600 miles later I am averaging 49 mpg. My daily commute is 100 miles, 90% highway. I have the manual version. So far so good. The car has lived up to the hype in my opinion.
     
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  9. Bill: I like reading your posts on the Passat TDI. I'm stuck between purchasing the 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL and the 2013 VW Passat TDI (which would be my 3rd VW purchase). While I like the mileage of the TDI, I just can't get over the luxury features of the Nissan, specifically the NASA inspired zero gravity seats, rear object detector monitor, lane departure monitor, self cleaning rear view camera, hazard/horn tire pressure monitors and other features. Price wise, the TDI can't compare to the Altima, however, resale value and gas mileage can't compare to the TDI. What is a guy supposed to do? What is your expert advice on which to buy and which to avoid? Thanks for your advice!!!
     
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  10. I like the 2013 Altima as well, but I chose the Passat TDI. It's my 2nd VW and my first diesel and I love it. Pay no attention to the EPA figures on the window sticker, especially the highway number. I get 45 MPG on the highway driving at 70 with the AC on, and it's an excellent vehicle for road trips. I have exceeded 50 MPG on trips many times, and have gotten 47 MPG on my best fill-up. By the way, I'm not a hyper miler. I can't say anything about the new Altima as I haven't driven it, but I hope that helps.
     
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