Long-Term Update: 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SE 6MT

Date: 10/14/2013
Mileage: 6884 mi
Avg. Fuel Economy: 47.7 mpg (U.S. gallons)

The Passat has been with us for 5 months, and continues to impress with its frugality and road manners.  With some more break-in mileage and more time behind the wheel, fuel economy has increased drastically.  Whereas the first few tanks of diesel ran about 42-43MPG, more recent tanks have skyrocketed – a hand calculated 52.9MPG on a recent 900 mile trip, achieved on a single tank of diesel.  That number would have been higher if the first leg hadn’t included massive headwinds – the stats from the second leg were better and are shown below.  A note to fellow TDI owners, though: doing 55-65MPH for 900 miles sure can put you to sleep, so have caffeine on hand!

Since the last update, the Passat has also received some upgrades.  The windows received some Llumar AirBlue 80, a subtle tint that prevents the interior and I from baking in the desert sun, while still allowing for good visibility at night.  Describing the tint as impressive would be an understatement – even after a day of sitting in the desert sun with temperature approaching 130F, the black leatherette seats were still cool enough to sit on!  The tint also cuts down a lot of heat while on the go, so the sun doesn’t cook naked skin and the ice cold AC doesn’t have to work nearly as hard.  I would recommend anyone and everyone get as much of their windows tinted with this stuff as is legal!

The other, more wallet-breaking upgrade was a clear paint protection film for the front of the vehicle.  I saw how horrible the bumper and hood paint were on my 07 Accord, as a result of being sandblasted and rock chipped here in the desert.  Being that this is my first new car, I decided to get a 3M ScotchGard kit installed on the bumper, hood and fenders (partially).  I also ordered a set of XPEL custom cut headlight protection films, hopefully they will protect the headlamps from yellowing.  I’m not sold on either product yet, and my initial thought is that the films are not worth it for city dwellers driving on good roads.

The XPEL Headlight film is significantly thicker than the 3M ScotchGard paint protection film - we'll see who has the right approach.

Other than that, the TDI engine also receives an appropriate dose of Opti-Lube XPD diesel fuel additive in each tank.  The extra lubrication it provides will prolong the life of many fuel system parts, including the prone-to-fail High Pressure Fuel Pump.  As an added benefit, the extra lubrication quiets the engine down a little bit, keeping noise down in the already quiet interior.  Finally, average Joe’s have tested the additive on their commute and it seems to added 2-3MPG in fuel economy.

The interior continues to be a great place to spend time on long road trips.  Low noise levels, comfortable seats, a great sound system and heaps of torque go a long ways toward reducing driver fatigue.  Unfortunately, a few rattles have cropped up.  The overhead sunglass holder seems to be the flimsiest in recent memory, and causes both the compartment and the glasses to rattle over certain roads.  The strip at the front of the dashboard also has its share of issues.  Besides for rattling, it also looks like its warped at the center.  Hopefully, I’ll have the VW dealer address this issue at its next service, which will be at 10,000 miles.