Volkswagen Passat TDI Aims For 68 MPG On U.S. Road Trip

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2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI fuel economy world record attempt

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI fuel economy world record attempt

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Volkswagen's 2013 Passat TDI is the most efficient diesel vehicle currently on sale.

Its EPA-rated figures of 31 mpg city, 43 highway and 35 combined put it above a throng of other Volkswagen-Audi diesels, and make it a prime choice for frugal highway driving.

But is 68 mpg within reach? If you're multiple economy record holder Wayne Gerdes, it might be.

In conjunction with Volkswagen of America, serial hypermiler Gerdes has set off on a 8,000-mile journey around the 48 contiguous states to set a Guinness World Record for "lowest fuel consumption--48 U.S. states for a non-hybrid car."

To set that record, Gerdes and the Passat will have to beat the previous record, already held in the Passat TDI, of 67.9 mpg.

"It’s going to be a great adventure and I’m confident we can improve upon the current record," Gerdes said.

With the journey already underway--Gerdes set off on June 7th from VW of America's Hernden, VA headquarters--Gerdes and co-driver Bob Winger will comfortably exceed VW's claims for 795 highway miles on every tank of diesel--already impressive range for a passenger vehicle.

Gerdes is certainly the right man for the job. In addition to holding the equivalent 48-state record in a hybrid vehicle, he's set over 100 other economy records.

That hybrid record was set just one year ago, by Gerdes and co-driver Chris Bernius in a 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid sedan, with a final figure of 64.5 mpg.

Such figures are beyond the reach of many drivers, and we'd usually not advocate the sort of ultra-efficient driving required to achieve such numbers--some hypermiling techniques can disrupt traffic or even be dangerous, though we're sure Gerdes is experienced in that regard.

But it does show that almost any vehicle is capable of more than its advertised figures, with careful driving.


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Comments (8)
  1. This is not representative of regular driving and is Dangerous and Unsafe......A good Hypermiler surely can do this....

  2. I think the point of these trips are to educate people about efficient driving. If people can learn a thing or two about efficient driving from the publicity than it is all for the good.

  3. Well, the best way to "efficient driving" is go electric.

    B/c regardless of what you do, your efficiency bottleneck is at the point of engine which is at best 30% efficient. But if you can double or triple that by going electric, then the additional efficiency gain through better driving is small...

  4. OK, so maybe next year they need to do the trip in a Tesla Model S and calculate the MPGe of that trip. By then there will be a few superchargers on the way.

    BTW, VAG's US headquarters are in Herndon, not Hernden, VA as spelled on the blue ribbon on the Passat on the picture (though Hernden does sound quite a bit more German ;) )

  5. Drive with a platinum bubbler for more O2 in the engine and maybe a hydrogen cell to increase milage.Big cold intake and an oversize exhaust and taller tires.This is remidy for milage and performance in a turbo diesel like VW

  6. I have a 1998 Chevy Prism four speed automatic and have driven it regularly since new the highest mileage I ever obtained was 40.7 MPG on a trip to Chicago from Minneapolis. No diesel or high test fuel prices, no tricks and just one stop for a comfort break. It still gets at least 36 MPG on long trips and close to 30 MPG in city driving I sometimes wonder what a cam phasing direct injected miller cycle engine coupled to continuously variable transmission in a similar size current car on low rolling resistance tires could do.

  7. Aaron, your questions are valid, but just for some brief context, a 2013 version of your Prism would likely get worse mileage by current testing standards. This is due to several factors, including a tougher, more realistic EPA test cycle, more weight due to tougher safety standards than 15 years ago, and other factors.

    Again, I think your main question is a good one, I just wanted to note that there are legitimate reasons that vehicles, especially compact vehicles, don't get the mileage that many expect based on older vehicles.

  8. What?! I have already done that for a few times! My best record is 69.5 mpg! No hypermiling, just cruise at 55 mph. No wind. Temperature in 60's. All highway. Total distance about 70 miles. I do this 5 nights a week. 60+ mpg can be achieved every time.

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