The 2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI is a green car, with its hybrid-like fuel economy. But the base five-cylinder Golf is below-average in this class, and the GTI does sacrifice a bit of efficiency in the name of peppy performance.
EPA ratings for the Golf TDI ring in at 30/42 mpg, whether you choose the six-speed manual gearbox or DSG automatic. Likewise, the GTI earns mileage that's respectable, at up to 24 mpg city, 33 highway--especially considering its performance.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)
That said, the base five-cylinder engine is far from a fuel-economy star. It does 33 mpg on the highway at best, at a time when many compacts get numbers in the upper 30s on the highway and some reach 40 mpg.
With all-wheel drive and a higher-performance engine, the Golf R is thirstier than the rest, at an EPA 19/27 mpg.