Flash Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI

2012 Volkswagen PassatBy Bruce Caldwell

Model Tested: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI-SE 4-door sedan

Engine: 2.0-liter Turbodiesel DOHC I4, 140 hp, 236 lb/ft

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, front wheel drive

EPA Ratings: 30-mpg city/40-mpg highway

Base Price: $19,995

As Tested: $25,995


  • Excellent ride and handling
  • Lots of torque
  • Pleasant driving experience
  • Hybrid-like fuel economy (our best was 52.4 mpg)


  • Exceptional front and rear legroom
  • Limo-like interior room
  • Ample interior storage
  • Great contoured steering wheel with tilt/telescopic
  • Comfy, supportive, heated seats
  • Excellent sound and navigation systems


  • Large trunk
  • Flat floor
  • Huge pass-thru and split folding rear seats

WOW Factors:

  • Phenomenal fuel economy
  • 800-mile range
  • Hard to believe it’s a diesel (minimal noise at low speeds)
  • Room for a basketball team inside


  • Awkward remote mirror adjustment knob
  • Messy, smelly diesel pumps at filling stations
  • Oversized trunk hinges interfere with some types of cargo

Bottom Line: The 2012 VW Passat TDI is an outstanding mid-size sedan with more room than most full-size sedans. The excellent turbodiesel engine will convert even the most stalwart anti-diesel people with its smooth, powerful performance and incredible fuel economy. Fuel economy rivals hybrids, but at a substantially lower price.