One Fill, 1626 Miles? Meet The Taylors And Their VW Passat Diesel

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John and Helen Taylor achieve 1,626 miles on a tank of Diesel in a VW Passat TDI

John and Helen Taylor achieve 1,626 miles on a tank of Diesel in a VW Passat TDI

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There are many routes to outstanding fuel efficiency, but it's often diesel that's chosen to demonstrate the highest mpg numbers and longest distances.

Mileage experts Helen and John Taylor achieved both, to become the world record holders for the longest distance driven on one tank of fuel, using a Volkswagen Passat TDI.

In driving from Houston, Texas to Sterling, Virginia, the Taylors drove 1,626 miles on a single 19.322 gallon fill of clean diesel. That equates to an average economy figure of 84.1 miles per gallon.

The Taylors were determined to make it a proper test too, rather than making it too easy. To that end, all the driving was done during the day in normal traffic conditions, rather than at night. The car was completely standard--a 140hp, 2.0-liter TDI, with a six-speed manual transmission--with 120 pounds of luggage in the trunk. The Taylors took turns at driving, and drove no more than 14 hours per day.

To ensure the test was conducted accurately, the speedometer was correctly calibrated for accuracy, recording parity at 20, 50 and 70 mph. The odometer was reading slightly under, so all figures were corrected to maintain accuracy.

John and Helen Taylor achieve 1,626 miles on a tank of Diesel in a VW Passat TDI

John and Helen Taylor achieve 1,626 miles on a tank of Diesel in a VW Passat TDI

Enlarge Photo
The fuel used was verified by Senior Police Officer Daniel M. Rodriguez in Texas, then sealed and signed. Motel managers along the route also signed to confirm the seal was still intact, before it was finally signed for and removed by Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Perry at the end of the drive.

The Passat's 84 mpg rating by the end of the drive is nearly double that rated by the EPA, with an official highway figure of 43 mpg. Many Volkswagen diesel drivers have found that the EPA figures for their cars are slightly pessimistic, and average economy figures of more than 40 mpg aren't uncommon.

The Taylors' endeavor has earned them a place in the record books, but we wouldn't put it past the next record being in a Passat TDI too. The previous record-holder, at 1,526.6 miles, was also a Passat--the 1.6 TDI BlueMotion model, sold in Europe.

What's a 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI like to live with? Head over to our sister site TheCarConnection, where a TDI is undergoing a six-month road test.


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Comments (25)
  1. Very impressive. Well done guys.

  2. This is great stuff! Antony, one nitpick: what is "clean diesel"? Is it biodiesel?


  3. Thanks Neil. No, clean diesel is really marketing-speak for ultra-low sulfur diesel. We've actually given up describing it as such on GCR since it's hard to find "unclean" diesel in the U.S. now and most modern diesels run on the low-sulfur stuff, but old habits die hard sometimes and the term sneaks in!

  4. They still make some dirty diesel. I use it to heat my house. Really annoying that I can't get the 15 ppm stuff and have to use the 500 ppm fuel.

  5. "Clean Diesel" reminds me of the term "Friendly fire".

  6. Clean diesel is normal diesel sold at gas stations and is required by law to be used in most vehicles. The high sulfur junk is for farm equipment and heating like John B. mentions.

  7. There are more comments in this thread
  8. They said it was gas that was used and not diesel:

  9. @James: No, Autoblog Green didn't say anything of the sort. Did you actually READ the article you linked to? What's in the URL is different from the headline and the article content. Bad for search optimization, but regardless of the URL, that article got the facts right. Ours is better, of course ... :)

  10. If they drove 13-14 hours per day, then their average mph was around 40.

  11. Just curious but the mpg figure was arrived at by dividing the miles travelled by the tank size. There is already fuel in the lines,pump,injectors and an unknown amount in the filler pipe to the tank so was this accounted for? Did they run the car dry till it quit? It seems if they did deputy sheriff Alonzo would have to come looking for them, very vague? If this story is nationally advertised the full facts should be revealed it's not as controlled a test as it seems.

  12. Further to my above comments what were the average speeds? If one drives at forty mph all day the mpg figures are phenomenal.

  13. You didn't ask if they only drove when they had a tail wind, or if they snuck in behind tractor trailors to take advantaged of the vacuum, or, or, or!

    Regardless, it seems to me that they did darn good........

  14. No I wasn't trying to be smart just pointing out there is more than meets the eye when making a claim of this type which no doubt will make national news. It's a coup for German auto importers who are trying to expand diesels in America couldn't ask for better free advertising.

  15. Hi Don, thanks for the comments. The Taylors' press release stated how the fuel was drained and filled, then measured by the relevant authority. Unfortunately I underestimated our readers' desire to know about the smallest of details!

    At the start, two gallons were purchased in a container. The car's tank was then drained at a VW dealer, and the two gallons put in to allow them to drive to the fuel station. The tank was then brimmed and the brimmed measurement recorded and sealed.

    The car didn't run dry, but the MPG figure assumes the tank *did* run dry, as they divided the corrected odometer miles by the fuel tank's brimmed measurement.

  16. What was the average speed for that 1,626 miles?

    Many experiements have proved that if you drive behind a large vehicle, you can save easily 10-15% of the gas...

  17. Wasn't VW in the process of making a diesel electric hybrid too? If that is the case, then I am pretty sure that this car with this drive can go 100mpg... I just hope that I never see them on my way to work.

  18. no wonder at 40 mph everyone passed them ! it took them over 40 hours to do it! wonder what "normal" speed for the trip would look like say 55-60-70 mph ?

  19. 1626 miles can be easily done in 2 days. Sure, it got 80+mpg. But if its mpg drops to 45mpg and they drive like everyone else, they could have done the trip in 2 days. Even with Diesel at $4.50 per gallon, their extra tank would still be cheaper than extra day of lodging and food... Sometimes, people miss the bigger picture when they are focused on MPG alone...

  20. This was obviously a test done to gauge MPG, not the cost of a trip so maybe you're the one missing the picture. It's not like they exceeded EPA estimates by 5mpgs, it was 40! But of course it's human nature to be cynical (or jealous maybe).

  21. This story gets more weird...I contacted Mark Gillies of VW to be told at a VW dealership,under supervision by the law the tank was drained (just the tank?) then just "over" nineteen gallons ( how much over?) of diesel was put in.This version is not the same as Antony's above...Mark Gillies also wrote..The Taylors traveled in real world conditions on real roads: they even encountered a couple of bad snarl ups that halted their progress. They drive above minimum speed limits, but under the actual speed limit and are very gentle with acceleration and braking. They don’t use the AC but drive with the windows cracked for ventilation.
    Hate to go on about this but it just irritates me no end when wild claims are made omitting vital facts.

  22. I guess I didn't think they accomplished this without doing something out of the ordinary. But yes, it could have been made more clear. This is another hypermiling story using the tools of hypermilers.

  23. Of course you're right about doing something out of the ordinary. If you were not doing something out of the ordinary, why would you go to the dealer and drain your tank under the watchful eye of the sheriff? Why yes of course, everyone does that before the morning commute...right?

    Hypermiling is more about smooth starting and stopping and accelerations - decelerations not driving over 1600 miles.

  24. So the 54.5 mpg fuel standards due between 2017 and 2025 are probably too low?

  25. I wonder if many readers will actually drive slower and get better mileage, whatever their vehicle?

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