The way Kelley Blue Book deals with long-term vehicles is usually pretty simple; take a car, drive it for a year, discover what works and what doesn't. It's a pretty great system for sussing out the annoying or exceptional aspects of a vehicle that don't make themselves known during a typical week-long press loan. That said, these days it's rare to find a car capable of destroying itself in one year's time.
So when the 12 month loan on our silver 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI was nearing its end we saw an opportunity. Why not keep the Passat another year, to really put its mechanical resilience to the test? Volkswagen agreed to our request and so the Kelley Blue Book parking lot will host the diesel Passat for yet another year.
Wild card among mid-size cars
Why did we choose a VW Passat in the first place? First, American's love their sedans. In fact, the mid-size sedan category has the largest sales volume of any category in the USA. With so many car buyers considering mid-size sedans adding one to our long-term test fleet seemed utterly logical. As for selecting a Volkswagen, our goal was to explore the road less traveled...metaphorically speaking. Plenty is known and has been written about the top selling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord but after its makeover in 2012 the Passat emerged as a bit of a wild card. Recast as a cheaper, less premium offering the Volkswagen Passat now competes head-to-head with some very well-established, well-regarded competition. An extended test struck us as an ideal way to gauge the Passat's viability in such a contentious segment.
Kicking off our bonus year in proper fashion, we embarked on an extended road trip from Long Beach, California to Portland, Oregon. Based on a previous road trip that led us from California through Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas, we knew the Passat could lay down endless miles with frugal ease. As expected we landed in Oregon's hipster Mecca with a little more than 40 mpg indicated in the fuel economy computer. All hail diesel efficiency! Efficiency aside, we also put the V-dub's supple ride and nicely engaged handling dynamics to good use along curvaceous mountain roads and endless stretches of freeway.
Comfort, convenience and range
Moving forward the car's dual-clutch automatic transmission and 2-liter diesel engine, with its 140-horsepower and 236 lb-ft torque output, will remain a prime area of focus but we're also interested in the rest of the car. As configured our SEL Premium trim includes very comfortable leather trimmed heated power seats with memory function, keyless entry with push-button start, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, premium Fender audio and a touch-screen navigation system that seemed dated the day we took delivery. As equipped the price tag, including destination charges, rings in just shy of $33,000.
We managed to rack up more than 23,000 miles in year one and it's easy to see why. While perfectly adept during daily commutes the Passat's comfy seats, abundant rear passenger space and a sizable trunk make it easy to drag gear and people to far off destinations. With its 40+ mpg highway efficiency and 600-mile range, the Passat is the logical choice for extended journeys to parts unknown. If our trip to Portland is any indication, year two should be filled with more long-distance adventures, more insights and ideally, more worry-free driving. Unlike so many house guests the VW Passat TDI is far from wearing out its welcome.
More Volkswagen news...