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

May 30, 2012

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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