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Quick Look at the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI
With an entry-level MSRP and fuel efficiency to rival most hybrids, the diesel-powered Passat surprises with its true-to-form German handling, making it pure driving joy.
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Make/Model: 2012 Passat TDI
As driven, the TDI SEL Premium sells for $32,195, but the base price for the diesel is $25,995 plus destination. For a mid-sized sedan at this price point, the car over delivers.
The engine is a 2.0-liter in-line four cylinder diesel with four valves per cylinder, turbocharged, with direct injection (TDI). It meets both European and North American emissions standards using Volkswagen's AdBlue after-treatment. The diesel makes the signature European “putty-purr” sound so often associated with the diesels so popular there. The Passat is front wheel drive with an amazingly smooth and well-tuned 6-speed transmission (available both automatic and manual).
The seating and interior room are very comfortable for a car this size. Most smaller sedans such as the Passat suffer from cramping as designers attempt to utilize every square inch. The Passat TDI has ample interior space and comfortable seating, allowing even someone over six feet such as myself to easily sit in the back row to ride. Three average people can comfortably sit in the back.
The trunk is huge and the seats fold flat to allow pass-through for even more storage options. Without the seats down, a standard-sized mountain bike with the front wheel removed fits easily in the boot. For the curious, the AdBlue refill port is also located in the trunk.
Entering the freeway or getting up to speed on the highway can be either smooth and efficient or can be a seat-pressing, G-forced launch, depending on driver discretion. The amount of power produced by this little diesel is shocking to those who might not expect it. Despite getting 43 miles per gallon (EPA) on the highway, the Passat TDI puts out the kind of get-up-and-go you'd expect from an 8-cylinder beast. Top speed is limited to 118 for the U.S. versions, if you're wondering.
Braking is smooth and effortless and handling us superb for a vehicle in this segment. True to its German roots, the Passat has stiff, responsive turning, but handles road shocks and bumps extremely well, marking the suspension as somewhere between sport tuned and mushy. It's an excellent balance that drivers will appreciate.
Drivers will also appreciate the consolidated and nicely fitted instrument cluster. Analog dials give precise information on RPM, speed, etc. and are supplemented by the central LCD screen which shows cruise settings, gear position, and other details depending on vehicle operation. It's well laid out and gives what the driver needs in a glance.
And so ...
Overall, the 2012 Passat TDI was a beautiful, surprising car that definitely speaks to the driver on many fronts. It's fun to drive, has a great look and style, is utilitarian enough for most people's needs, and gets close to 800 miles out of a $70 tank of fuel. There's a lot to love about this Volkswagen.
Photo credits: AaronOnAutos.com
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