Iíll admit it, I like driving diesels. I can understand why Europeans have become such fanatics. Once you spend time behind the wheel of one of these modern oil-burners, you realize just how civilized theyíve become.

And since most of my driving is on suburban Detroit main drags and not race tracks, I donít need a high revving engine. All I need is enough torque to launch the car " />

Issue: Dec 2004


Cars Worth Noting: 2004 VW Passat TDI



2004 VW Passat TDI

by John Peter

Iíll admit it, I like driving diesels. I can understand why Europeans have become such fanatics. Once you spend time behind the wheel of one of these modern oil-burners, you realize just how civilized theyíve become.

And since most of my driving is on suburban Detroit main drags and not race tracks, I donít need a high revving engine. All I need is enough torque to launch the car from the light, and the Passat GLS has that ó 247 lb.ft. at 1,900 rpm.

The inline 2.0L, 4-cylinder, direct injection, turbocharged diesel makes 134 hp at 4,000 rpm, but I hardly need any of that, cruising at 45 mph at 1,600 rpm (the dieselís sweet spot on my drive to work). Other than the slight odor of diesel fumes as Iím backing down the driveway, youíd never know you were in a diesel, save for the distinctive purr of the engine. (With some of the recent research into bio fuels, Volkswagen could probably make the exhaust smell like french fries or KFC).

Diesels also have the advantage in the mileage department, the TDI getting 27 city and 38 highway compared to the 1.8Tís 21 city and 30 highway.

Interestingly enough, unlike some other OEMís who charge a premium for their diesel powertrains, the diesel Passat is only about $200 more than the 1.8T gasoline Passat, so youíre not shelling out a whole lot of cash to save a little gas. The question then becomes, do you actually come out ahead with better fuel mileage while paying more for diesel?

Iíve based my calculations on driving 12,000 miles per year and averaged the two vehicles out at 32.5 mpg for the TDI and 25.5 mpg for the 1.8T. Checking todayís prices at the local BP station, gasoline is $2.09 and diesel is $2.39. That puts just over $100 in my pocket each year and saves just over 100 gallons of fuel.


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