12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI - Still Solid

April 8, 2013
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Front Left View
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Long-Term 2012 Volkswagen Passat Update - SPRING 2013 (2 OF 3)
Miles to Date: 25,054
"This is a solid car with good handling."
Although it racked up another 3300 miles this last month, our Four Seasons Volkswagen Passat TDI led a relatively boring life in March. That meant fewer road trips and adventures, more commuting and daily chores.
"With a month left in its twelve-month stay with us, the Passat may be a bit of a forgotten child in the Automobile parking lot," writes associate Web editor Ben Timmins. "It might seem hard to get excited about a gray sedan when we're parking fancier, flashier cars next to it, but the truth is it's a consistent performer, and an interesting, satisfying entrant to the midsize market."
Speaking of midsize sedans, the Passat TDI appears to be one of senior Web editor Phil Floraday's favorites. "The Accord won our Midsize Madness comparison test, but the Passat TDI is still my choice. We couldn't test the TDI against a bunch of gas four-cylinder models, so it had to sit out the comparison. The Passat TDI is the best car in the bunch because you get all of the room of a big car with the fuel economy of a compact. Plus there's no CVT and the turbocharger provides good torque. There's some lag upon acceleration and the horsepower is really low, but this is a solid car with good handling."
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Front Left Side View
Associate Web editor Jake Holmes echoed Floraday's sentiments. "I remain impressed by the combination of smoothness, power, and economy delivered by the turbo-diesel engine and DSG dual-clutch transmission. The one extra thing I would want on my Passat is a backup camera (a feature not offered on any Passat grade). Despite careful use of the mirrors, the remarkably long rear doors and trunk require a conscious effort to remember where the car ends."
We didn't completely top off the AdBlue tank last time, as a warning screen informed Holmes the car had but 1500 miles of range left on the urea tank, which would eventually prevent the car from starting. Dealer technicians topped off the AdBlue levels while replacing the front fender liner we mentioned last month, which was damaged by ice.
Now that winter's worst is more or less behind us, we swapped out our winter tires for the Passat's original Hankook OptimoH426 tires just in time for one last month of stewardship, and one last road trip to our Passat TDI's birthplace in Tennessee. Read about the homecoming next month.
Base price (with dest.)$30,265
Price as tested$30,365
Body Style 4-door sedan
Accommodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Engine 16-valve DOHC turbodiesel I-4
Displacement 2.0 liters (120 cu in)
Power 140 hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque 236 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive Four-wheel
Fuel Economy 30/40/34 (city/hwy/combined)
Steering Electrically assisted
Turns lock-to-lock 3.0
Turning circle 36.4 ft
Suspension, Front Control arms, coil springs
Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R Vented disc/disc
Wheels 18-inch aluminum alloy
Tires Hankook OptimoH426
Tire Size 235/45HR-18
Headroom F/R 38.3/37.8 in
Legroom F/R 42.4/39.1 in
Shoulder Room F/R 56.9/57.0 in
Wheelbase 110.4 in
Track F/R 62.1/61.0 in
L x W x H 191.6 x 72.2 x 58.5 in
Passenger Capacity 102.0 cu ft
Caro Capacity 15.9 cu ft
Weight 3459 lb
Weight dist. F/R TBD
Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal
Est. Range 630 miles
Fuel Grade Diesel
Standard Equipment Power sunroof Touchscreen navigation iPod cable Fog lights Leatherette seating surfaces Automatic dual-zone climate control SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month subscription Bluetooth Auxiliary audio jack Tilt-and-telescopic steering column Cruise control Hill start assist Automatic headlights w/coming home function Heated front seats Power driver's seat 60/40-split folding rear seats Front and rear armrests w/storage Intermittent front wipers w/heated washer nozzles Stability and traction control
Wheel locks $100

Long-Term 2012 Volkswagen Passat Reviews to Date:

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  • We did finally have a new front fender liner installed after the original part was damaged from ice build up over the winter.
  • We wish the Passat TDI were offered with a rear-view camera -- after all, it is a bit longer than it looks.
  • "The Passat TDI is the best of the midsize bunch because you get all the room of a big car with the fuel economy of a compact," writes Senior Web editor Phil Floraday.
  • Our Four Seasons Passat TDI racked up a 3300 miles in March, but mostly as it catered to chores around our home base of Ann Arbor.
  • Winter's finally drawing to a close, and we've swapped the original Hankook tires back on the Passat for its last month in our care.

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