Photo by Vince Taroc.
It comes as no surprise to learn that the Volkswagen Passat TDI clean diesel has become a top fleet vehicle for the automaker, when you discover its nearly 700-mile range on a single take of fuel.
Nearly six in 10 fleet Passat buyers choose the diesel highway warrior over the gasoline model, according to the automaker. And while you won't confuse the Passat for a sport sedan offered by VW's European luxury counterparts, the fuel economy story makes it a winning choice.
The Passat TDI clean diesel was first introduced in the U.S. in 2009; 2012 marked the second generation of the engine. Volkswagen has announced that its third-generation Passat TDI is on the way.
At city speeds, driving the Passat is comparable to a sensible gasoline-powered mid-size sedan. But adding the diesel engine gives you more oomph out of the gate.
However, getting up to speed on the Long Beach (710) Freeway was where the Passat TDI shined. The on-board computer's fuel economy reading rocketed to the mid-30s and kept going. In fact, don't be surprised when this mid-size sedan beats the EPA highway rating of 40 mpg. The gasoline Passat with a 1.8L four-cylinder and automatic transmission gets an EPA-rated 24 miles per gallon city and 34 mpg highway.
Photo by Vince Taroc.
The Passat TDI had no problem with the hilly terrain around Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles, and handled fairly well through the curves. The electro-mechanical power steering isn't as loose as you'd expect.
The 2014 SE model I drove also had its share of comfortable interior touches and technology. The Leatherette heatable seating surfaces are comfortable and easy to wipe down if a few dribbles of coffee leave your travel mug, which will be easy to reach in well-placed cup holders.
The navigation system is functional, and the Passat TDI displays turn-by-turn directions on the LCD in the gauge cluster so you can keep your eyes more focused on the road ahead.
All in all, the Passat TDI suits fleet drivers well, and fuel hawks would do themselves a favor by considering it for their drivers.
Editor's note: View a full photo gallery of the Volkswagen Passat TDI here.