2004 Volkswagen Passat TDI
The hybrid alternative
Let’s talk about gas pains.For those of you who haven’t already moved on, I’ll point out that the pains I’m speaking of are those you feel when you empty your wallet into the gas tank every week. Early summer gas prices have reached near historic heights in many parts of the U.S., leading to much grumbling from unhappy travelers. The steady up-tick in fuel prices in recent years has prompted automakers to come up with some alternatives. For one thing, hybrid gas and electric technology, pioneered by Honda and Toyota, is expanding to new makes and models. For another, we Americans are being asked to look again at something that Europeans have long appreciated, while we’ve been indifferent. No, not Jerry Lewis. I’m talking about diesel engines here, like the new, 2.0 liter turbo diesel now available in the Volkswagen Passat TDI.
TDI aside, the Passat late in the 2004 model year is essentially as it was earlier, which is to say, a solid feeling, comfortably roomy, well appointed midsize. This we know. What’s news now is the choice of an alternate fuel source engine, and recently we got a chance to put one through its paces.
Diesel conjures up images of smoke belching trucks to many people, but the latest generation of diesel engines are much cleaner and quieter than the old tech versions.