2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long Term Update: No midlife crisis here
As we reported earlier, Volkswagen graciously agreed to extend the loan on our 2012 Passat TDI long-termer for an additional 12 months. Diesels in general are well -- and rightly -- regarded for being hearty long-distance runners, and at this point, our particular example appears to be barely broken in. It remains squeak and rattle free as the day it arrived and continues to offer impressive comfort in both its front and extremely spacious and accommodating rear quarters.
Still fabulous at 40
Midway through its extended run with us, this dependable and frugal mount recently crossed over the 40,000-mile threshold. While still frequently called upon to endure life in the commuter lane - most often as part of a 140-mile round trip along the dreaded Interstate 405 between the San Fernando Valley and KBB's headquarters in Irvine -- it recently journeyed to Phoenix and back in a vital support role for the photo team during our Compact Crossover Comparison test.
Familiarity can sometimes breed contempt, but with our Passat TDI, it's become more a case of wholesale admiration. While there's no denying the cabin won't win any awards for avant-garde design, in a world where more overtly "creative" approaches to dash configurations and switchgear placement often get in the way of actual user friendliness, we've grown consistently fonder of the Passat's extremely legible gauges and logical control layouts. As we noted in previous updates, the infotainment/navi system could certainly use an update and VW has already taken care of the missing rearview camera that was conspicuous by its absence in all 2012 Passat models. But those modest gripes aside, it's hard to fault the car's impressive mix of comfort and control - not to mention stellar fuel economy that continues to average around 37-38 mpg overall and regularly slips into the mid-40-mpg range on pure freeway runs.
Service with a $mile...
The biggest change for our Passat TDI since starting Chapter II in its KBB Long Term Saga was evidenced when we headed over to the local Volkswagen dealer for service. While previous visits had been performed under VW's 3-year/36,000-mile Carefree Maintenance Program that covers all scheduled maintenance, this was the first we'd be underwriting. For the record, the 40K dealer visit on this vehicle is a comparatively major exercise that goes well beyond the basic roster of visual/functional inspections, tire rotations, etc -- particularly on a Passat TDI with the DSG transmission.
At this interval, the to-do list starts with replacement of its fuel, air and cabin filters plus a basic oil and filter change and a refill of the AdBlue fluid used in conjunction with the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) converter to ensure NOx levels on the TDI engine remain low enough to pass emissions. Further bumping the bottom line was the mandatory DSG transmission service. Also required at all subsequent 40,000-mile intervals to keep from voiding the powertrain warranty, it consists of replacing the gear oil and filter in VW's 6-speed automated cog changer. Collectively, the service totaled $823, which proved to be about average for what other owners of similar Passat TDIs had paid for their 40K maintenance.
Having racked up almost 42,000 miles as of this writing, next item requiring attention required on our Passat TDI long termer will likely be new tires. While tread depth on the original Hankook Optimos still falls within legal limits, it's hard to imagine them rolling on for more than another 5,000 miles or so. Whatever the future brings, we anticipate our Passat TDI will continue to take life in stride.
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