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Interactive Review: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SE

Volkswagen TDI Passat Passat TDI Diesel

August 7, 2012
Drew Dowdell
Managing Editor
CheersandGears.com

A couple of weeks ago William gave us his review of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat SE 2.5. While William loved the roominess and quality of the interior, he was less impressed with the 2.5 liter gasoline 5-cylinder motivation. I have driven the Volkswagen 5-cylinder in the Passat and a few other vehicles and I'm inclined to agree with him. In response to that, the Passat is taking another turn in the CheersandGears.com garage this week except this time with an oil burner under the hood and me at the helm. Diesel powered cars have been enjoying a rapid increase in sales lately and Volkswagen is one of the largest purveyors of diesel cars in the US. Diesels accounted for 19.4% of Volkswagen’s sales in July of 2012.

This 2012 Passat TDI has a sticker price of $28,665 and is equipped with sunroof, and automatic climate control. At first that may sound high for a conservative mid-size car, but given the amount of room, equipment, and of course fuel economy, the Passat TDI starts to look quite the bargain.

The Passat TDI is EPA rated at 30mpg city and 40mpg highway with a combined rating of 34mpg. The only other mid-size cars that can touch that are the hybrids from Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia. However, the Passat TDI regularly gets real world numbers that beat the EPA rating by a substantial margin.

As for power, the 2 liter turbo diesel is rated at just 140 horsepower but also sends 235 ft-lb of torque through the 6-speed DSG to the front wheels. All 236 ft-lb becomes available at just 1,500 rpm which I unwittingly found out when making a left hand turn during my initial drive and ended up slapped by the traction control nanny as the front wheels broke loose. The pull from the engine around town is a lot stronger than anyone expects from a 2 liter 4 cylinder.

For this week, I will be driving my normal commute till Friday to get a good read on the city fuel economy. Starting Friday evening until Monday afternoon, I will be taking the Passat on a long distance trip so I can get a good reading of the cruising fuel economy.

Even just the first 5 miles of driving the Passat reinforced my “smooth but different” opinion of the Volkswagen 6-speed DSG transmission that was established during the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo review.

So gear up your questions for this week’s interactive review of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI.

Passat TDI interior
Album: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI
3 images
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Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on twitter as @Cheersngears
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12 Comments

OK, First questions as I have come to have male and females ask me these questions about diesels.

When Idling is the engine smooth or rough to be noticeable from inside the car?

Do you have the constant smell of oil burning or is it really not noticable?

With windows up, no fan on or radio, how loud is the engine? Any chance on testing the DB level?

Is this engine a direct injection?

Does it feel nose heavy or lite and nimble?

Looking forward to your review with pictures of the engine compartment and trunk.
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I think I can answer them, since I have driven the Jetta TDI.

OK, First questions as I have come to have male and females ask me these questions about diesels.

When Idling is the engine smooth or rough to be noticeable from inside the car? NO

Do you have the constant smell of oil burning or is it really not noticable? HELL NO

With windows up, no fan on or radio, how loud is the engine? Any chance on testing the DB level? Slightly higher than gas burner.

Is this engine a direct injection? YES

Does it feel nose heavy or lite and nimble? DREW's ANSWER

Looking forward to your review with pictures of the engine compartment and trunk.


Modern diesels have come a long way. I was testing one of our new CAT track-hoes. I was amazed by how silent the engine felt from inside the cabin.
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when i drove one (and it's in my reviews in the review section), I liked it to a point but on the whole was not overly impressed or blown away by it. To me really the only reason you do buy this car is diesel (and maybe rear seat space). So mostly I am curious about mpg and gas cost per mile.
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Thanks for the review,the styling of the new Jetta has grown on me.

curious of what you think about interior quality, and if there are any rattles or other noises.
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Getting 42 mpg commuting so far...

You can hear it is a diesel, but it is not at all loud. It's just a different sound that some may be unfamiliar with. After you've accelerated, it doesn't sound any different than a gasser.

The Passat feels much lighter than it should for its size. It is one of the biggest mid-sizers you can buy, but out on the road it doesn't feel it at all.
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keep us posted
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Something that hit me today when I was driving home. I was happy that VW gave me such a new and clean vehicle and everything is nice and tight from the factory as should be for a car with 1,944 miles..... only ... this Passat isn't a 1944.7 mile car like I originally thought it was... it's a 19447 mile car. For a car with just about 20k miles on it, this thing is tight and solid. It had me completely fooled on the mileage.
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Something that hit me today when I was driving home. I was happy that VW gave me such a new and clean vehicle and everything is nice and tight from the factory as should be for a car with 1,944 miles..... only ... this Passat isn't a 1944.7 mile car like I originally thought it was... it's a 19447 mile car. For a car with just about 20k miles on it, this thing is tight and solid. It had me completely fooled on the mileage.


That is very good to hear, tight and like new is what buyers want to hear.
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passat is wide and long, and light for its width and length. wonder if it sucks in winter.
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Something that hit me today when I was driving home. I was happy that VW gave me such a new and clean vehicle and everything is nice and tight from the factory as should be for a car with 1,944 miles..... only ... this Passat isn't a 1944.7 mile car like I originally thought it was... it's a 19447 mile car. For a car with just about 20k miles on it, this thing is tight and solid. It had me completely fooled on the mileage.


This is really good to hear!
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We're going to have two quick contests on this one.

Price is Right style: Guess my fuel economy for the weekend and win a $10 fuel gift card.

Tonight, I'm driving from Pittsburgh to Ann Arbor - Guess my fuel economy to the nearest 10th of a gallon without going over to win.

Monday night I'm driving from upper-mid-state Michigan back to Pittsburgh.
Same deal.


Label your guesses as "Monday:" and "Friday:" You can submit your guess for both. We will have a thread in about an hour for you to put your guesses in.
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I have been looking into the Passat TDi SE, and I have found somethig strange. It appears (and I'm hoping I'm just missing something) that you cannot get a TDi with sunroof AND 6 speed manual transmission. The manual transmission is more engaging to drive and also gets an additional 1/3 mpg city/highway. And by looking for the best mpg for a commuter car, that is a gain I'm interested in taking advantage of, buy not sure if I could survive without my sunroof!
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