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The Toyota Prius had better watch out. While the country’s top hybrid is capable of 50 mpg in combined driving, a completely stock 2012 Volkswagen Passat just bested that mark by almost 35 mpg during a three-day jaunt from Houston, Texas, to Sterling, Va. By traveling 1,626 miles on a single tank of fuel, the Passat also set a new world’s record for total distance traveled without having to refill its tank, beating the old benchmark—also set by a Passat TDI—by almost 100 miles. The bottom line here: An incredible 84.1 mpg.
The new record-setter showcases an MSRP that starts at $25,995 and was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. It was piloted by John and Helen Taylor, two of the country’s top hyper-milers, and while they no doubt drove carefully, they also took along 120 lbs. of luggage, only traveled in the daylight hours (so they dealt with “normal” traffic conditions), and spent no more than 14 hours on the road each day.
"The Passat TDI was the perfect car for the trip,” said John Taylor. “It offers plenty of interior and cargo space, yet is frugal enough to help us achieve this record."
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Volkswagen Clean Diesels: The Latest Lineup
"The TDI Clean Diesel [Passat] unites driving dynamics and fuel efficiency that isn't found in the competitive set," added Rainer Michel, vice president of Product Strategy for Volkswagen of America, Inc. "We're honored that the Taylors chose the 2012 Passat TDI as the vehicle to set this outstanding distance record. Their record shows just how economical the Passat TDI can be in the right hands."
For comparison’s sake, the manually transmissioned Passat TDI gets marks of 31 mpg city/43 mpg highway/35 mpg combined in the EPA’s hands, and the car can reach 30/40/34 even with its six-speed automatic. Yet it also lives up to its “Clean Diesel” moniker by producing notably fewer CO2 tailpipe emissions than rivals like the 2012 Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion. And it’s just one member of VW’s increasingly successful line of diesel entries, which also includes:
VW Jetta TDI—30 mpg city/42 mpg highway/34 mpg combined
VW Jetta SportWagen TDI—30 mpg city/42 mph highway/34 mpg combined
VW Golf TDI—30 mpg city/42 mpg highway/34 mpg combined
VW Touareg TDI—19 mpg city/28 mpg highway/22 mpg combined
In addition, the 2013 VW Beetle TDI is slated to launch this summer as the only compact coupe diesel in America, with the ability to attain 29 mpg city/39 mpg highway.
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