2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium Long Term Report 2
Delivering on the diesel promise
As we enter our second quarter with our long-term Passat, we’ve watched as the odometer has rolled almost 8,000 additional miles on the car -- a testament to how much we enjoy driving it. So far, we have appreciated the solid chassis, relaxed ride quality, and expansive interior. The DSG transmission has performed flawlessly, and our first service -- at 10,000 miles -- was free of charge by McKenna Volkswagen in Huntington Beach, California, thanks to VW’s factory Carefree Maintenance service program.
One of the best things about the Passat is the roomy cabin and huge trunk, but it’s the more than 700 miles of range -- even when average speeds surpass the posted limit -- that makes this our choice for long trips. Out on the road, the responsive 2.0L diesel is geared for 70-plus-mph passing maneuvers and, when teamed with the quick-firing DSG transmission, makes overtaking slower vehicles a breeze, before settling back down to effortless hours behind the wheel.
As good as the Passat is on the open road, we’ve also found it to be an excellent commuter, especially for a car of its large size. It’s plenty maneuverable around town, with excellent outward visibility. Steering effort is just heavy enough, and the brakes have a grabby initial bite but stop the car predictably with good pedal feel. It doesn’t hurt that our car is equipped with satellite radio, in addition to a Bluetooth system that works straightforwardly with our phone to stream our favorite music and audio programs.
If there are any complaints about the Passat, they are small. We’ve found the normally quiet Continental tires tend to scream over concrete road surfaces, and the front seats could be a bit firmer to better support our backsides. The only real warranty issues we had were a trim piece that buzzed and rattled at the base of the windshield and a navigation system head unit that was slow to respond to input and would occasionally freeze up and reboot itself. VW replaced both parts under warranty with updated pieces. The trim piece buzzing has been cut about 90 percent, while the head unit seems mostly cured, although it can still be slow at times.
Our only other unscheduled service was to replace two of the 18-inch tires to the tune of $562.62. While we’ve found them to be magnets for nails and screws, it was ultimately road debris that caused us two pinch flats on the passenger side and left the tires irreparable. A quick-thinking staffer used a tire plug kit to do an emergency sidewall fix, while the temporary spare replaced the worse of the two tires. Fortunately, our wheels absorbed the impact, and our alignment wasn’t altered.
With a new pair of shoes, the Passat was back out on the road, reliably handling our day-to-day commutes and racking up the miles. During this quarter, our average fuel economy was a respectable 35.11 mpg in mostly stop-and-go commuting, while a trip from Napa, California, back down to the Los Angeles area gave us a best tank of 45.38 mpg -- both numbers exceeded the 30 city/40 highway EPA label by an impressive amount.
"Heading home from Napa I got more than 45 mpg—wow!"
"Two flats, one spare. Glad I had a plug kit."
"The 10,000-mile service was quick and easy— and free!"
"Even in the worst commuting conditions, this car refuses to get less than 33 mpg."
"The head unit might be slow, but it plays well with my iPhone."
|Report: 2 of 4|
|Previous reports:||November 2013|
|Price as tested:||$33,710|
|Miles to date:||12,903|
|Miles since last report:||7,996|
|Average mpg (this report):||35.11|
|Test best tank:||45.38 mpg|
|Test worst tank:||31.44 mpg|
|Maintenance:||10,000-mile Service: Free; (2) 18-inch Continental Tires: $562.62|
|Problem Areas:||Creaky trim, slow head unit (replaced under warranty)|
|We Like:||Great tool for commuting or traveling; solid chassis.|
|We'd Change:||Noisy tires on concrete; front seat bottoms are too soft.|
|We Say:||Diesel performance and efficiency in an everyday car.|