84 mpg?! Couple Break Mileage Record With Passat TDI

John and Helen Taylor really know how to stretch a tank of gas. The couple squeezed 1,626 miles out of one tank of diesel fuel in a Volkswagen Passat TDI, breaking previous records.

During a three-day trip, the couple set out to beat the previous record for the most miles covered on a single tank of diesel: 1,526.6 by a VW Passat diesel in Europe.

The Taylors left Houston on May 3 in a 2012 Passat TDI with a manual transmission and ran out of fuel three days and nine states later in Sterling, Va.

Before the drive, the speedometer and odometer were calibrated by a state-certified testing facility. The Houston Police Department oversaw the initial fuel fill-up and sealed the gas tank at the beginning of the drive. At the end, a Loudoun County, Va., sheriff's deputy verified the ending mileage and removed the fuel-tank seal. The result was a whopping 84.1 mpg; the Passat TDI is EPA-rated at 31/43 mpg city/highway.

According to Volkswagen, the couple aimed to simulate real-world driving conditions and loaded the car with 120 pounds of luggage, drove in daytime traffic, took turns at the wheel and didn’t spend more than 14 hours on the road each day.

But the Taylors aren't strangers to mileage challenges: They've made a career out of driving efficiently and conducting workshops on fuel-efficient driving techniques. They hold more than 90 world fuel-economy and vehicle-related records.

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They should hold a seminar on how to drive like this, I'll go.


Put an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal, don't drive over 55 mph, pump your tires up to maximum psi, coast instead of using the brakes.


I had read about this in USA Today where this same couple last year got 64.42 out a Cruze Eco. The article in USA Today mentions of their techniques like driving 5 under the speed limit, only used A/C twice on the trip etc. It is amazing what cutting some speed off will do for fuel economy from times I have tried.

And to think: they were going uphill all the way.

Virginia is uphill from Texas still, right?


I agree with Zerf, by simply driving at 50 in a 55 or 60 in a 65 you can double your mileage. This past month I drove a 1998 Oldsmobile 400 miles uphill and against the jet stream and managed 30 miles a gallon. The car is rated at about 20. It is all about how hard you push the peddle, if you coast on the hills and if you don't mind arriving 30 mins late. As I was to arrive at 12:30 am and arrived at 1:10am.


Makes sense. I've gotten 26 mpg consistently on my 1995 lincoln towncar just by doing the speed limit and being easy on the gas pedal

This is great and wish I had the patience to drive like this, but my time is more important.


In my opinion it's impossible to average 84 mpg in a TDI, unless they counted the miles the car spent on a flatbed truck being taken to the repair shop. Seriously, if they could have eeked another 40 miles per gallon or so out of that stinking rattletrap they could have matched the world record of over 120 mpg achieved in a stock Toyota Prius.


Can a Toyota Prius get 120 mpg with out being towed too ? Does towing include plugging in the electrical cord . . .?
I drive a Corrolla and my wife has a TDI Jettawagen.
She gets the sticker milage.

I get 38 in the Corrolla
If I am driving all highway. The sticker milage is 34.

Nathan E. Rasmussen

An extra 5 mph doesn't really save any significant amount of time. Not unless you're driving all day long.

If you have a 40-mile commute, you spend 35 miles on the freeway. We'll temporarily pretend that you can actually drive all 35 at your chosen top speed. If that's 60 mph, you cover it in 35 minutes. If it's 65 mph, you cover it in 32 minutes 18 seconds. Whoop-de-freakin-do. The first red light is going to wash that right out.

Now of course, you don't really spend the whole drive at your top speed, either. Not by a long shot. So you're really not even saving two minutes.

Even less useful is putting the pedal to the metal.
The time cost of accelerating from a stop at all utterly dwarfs the tiny savings from getting to the speed limit five seconds earlier. The only real effect of stomping it is to burn extra gas.

And don't get me started about braking late and tailgating, which can save fractions of a second at most -- and keep you from seeing opportunities to save time for real (not to mention the safety cost).

People to whom time is important plan enough of it to drive in the first place. Or at least they learn the difference between what really saves it, and what just burns extra gas.


What kind of tire pressure?
What was their moving average?


Yeah and I was stuck behind these jerks the entire way...

Ken L.


So you achieved 84 mpg too?

Whenever I drive a rental with a gas mileage monitor, I'm always amazed how much better mileage I get than the previous driver(s), and I usually drive at prevailing highway speeds, not at 55. A light foot on the accelerator and coasting whenever you can makes a huge difference.


I consistently get over 40 mpg in my 1995 Geo Prizm 4-door 5-speed. I commute 33 miles each way to work, over an 11,300-foot mountain pass, and do 70-75mph the whole way (60-65 mph uphill with it in 3rd and 4th gear). This most recent tank of gas came out to 42.87 mpg. I'm not being easy on the accelerator, either. It's all about what you choose to drive.


getting 84 mpg? priceless


I'm driving a 15 year old Jetta TDi and averaging 55.3MPG by driving 58MPH (the speed limit is mostly 65MPH). I'm not doing anything spectacular other than that, and I'm driving a stock off the lot car! My car is rated at 37MPG combined (33/43 city/highway) so I'm getting considerably better than tested! AND IT'S A 15 YEAR OLD CAR!!


They did a great job, didn't they? I have also read from an article that The Taylors have set Guinness records for mileage before, including this individual record. According to Automobile magazine, they also hold the lowest fuel consumption record for a gas-powered non-hybrid car in the Lower 48, achieving 64.62 mpg in a Chevrolet Cruze Eco. Couple uses Passat TDI to set 84 mpg hypermiling record.


Wouldnt a variable overdrive gear allow a vehicle to be efficient AT the prevailing speed limit?
Or, why cant variable gear technology [as found in cvt transmissions] be used to allow the transaxle to move a car on the highway at say, 5 or 600 rpms, regardless of whether that is 50, 55 or 65 mph? I read where car manufacturers were toying with two-speed rear ends back in the 1960's. Why isnt it common today?


This story strikes me as marketing fluff.
Am I the only one asking why the EPA has 35/31/43 mpg for the mileage numbers for the 2012 Diesel VW Passat, but the story shows 84 mpg?


Never mind - answered my own question. Divided the miles traveled by the hours driven, and realized they were averaging 38 mph. Most cars will get incredible mileage if driven at low speed without lots of stops.

Verdict: marketing fluff. Look to the EPA numbers if you want something closer to real world data.

We all know it, but it almost hurts to see proof that our vehicles have the potential to be much more efficient than we allow them to be.

Restrictions, rules and poor driving habits equate to holes in our wallets.


now 84 is pretty crazy, but we should keep in mind that the Passat TDI for 51 mpg on the highway in Consumer Report's testing, which is a whole 8 mpg better than the EPA estimate.

Felix Egolf

I recently drove the 1.2 TDI VW POLO (75 HP) for Volkswagen Switzerland to Wolfsburg and back (935 miles). My average speed over the total distance was 50 mph. The total load in the vehicle was 245 lbs. It was in September 2011. > 90% was divided hwy. Vertical gain/drop was some 20'000 ft. My average was 80 mpg (VW claims 71 mpg overall according the new EU driving cycle).
Now the Taylors had a 2.0 litre TDI with almost double the horsepower. They were 2 people and carried a additional 120 lbs load. The drove daytime only, no headlights and it took them 3x14 hrs to get 1626 miles (= 38.7 mph average).
The VW PASSAT 1.6 TDI bluemotion (105 HP) does considerable better mpg than the 2.0 litre (140 HP)...
Think about this...


Don't know why people are such haters to dismiss this "experiment" as marketing fluff or other derogatory names. It's just people trying to show that something is possible and doing it in a manner that isn't totally out of the realm of possibility. A vacation type road trip with a couple of people and some baggage simply driving for max MPG.

I'm sure they planned the route carefully to minimize any travel other than expressway. I'm sure they used rest areas versus going off the expressway and carried their own food/drinks to avoid getting off the expressway as well. They probably maintained a pace of around 50-60 mph which would maximize their fuel efficiency. Even the Holiday Inns they stayed at I'm sure were picked based on their close proximity to expressway exits.

Those using a formula of 3X14 hours per day are wrong as they simply mentioned they drove NO MORE than 14 hours per day. NOT that they actually drove 14 hours each day. Rest stops included and the fact that it was mid afternoon when they arrived indicates that at least the last day was quite a bit less than 14 hours. So their average speed was probably closer to 50mph which would be ideal for fuel efficiency. They stated also that they tried to stay within 5mph of the posted speed limit so traveling in the slow lane I'm sure not many people were inconvenienced.


Cruise control really saves me gas!


LOL! However, the comparison is somewhat apples to oranges, because the Prius is a lighter, smaller, less powerful hybrid.

One point to consider when comparing the MPG of a diesel to the MPG of a gasoline vehicle is the cost differential (if cost savings is your goal). Example: Yesterday, regular unleaded averaged $3.58 nationwide, while diesel averaged $3.89. So a gasoline vehicle with the same fuel economy as a diesel will save you more money (albeit not a lot more) over time.


Good point. Diesel fuel is more expensive, if you can find it. Many manufacturers have sold diesel cars in the US, with GM being the most successful in terms of sales. But no one ever seems to keep them on the market here. BMW no longer offers the 3 series diesel. VW has canceled its diesel cars several times over a variety of issues. Even Mercedes has had big gaps in its diesel offerings. Nissan, Subaru, Honda and others promised diesel cars in recent years and then changed their plans.


The reason BMW, Mercedes and VW cancel there tdi's from time to time is because the stupid EPA changes the laws from year to year to try to keep them from being important. Understand the lobby effect of the big 3 they don't want any cars in the country that get better then 75MPG it would put them out of business. Why do you think Fedex and UPS are getting Sprinter Vans ?... duh... but an 80's 300D and find out what was possible 30 years ago most US car makes can't even beat that milage, flex fuel & hybird, fleet milage is all a big distraction to make them look good.


I consistently get 15mpg in my 30mpg rated vehicle as I sit in traffic on my 6 miles commute to work which takes 30 minutes!


Regarding diesel prices, it's pretty much the same price as gas for the Passat as the gas version requires 92 grade. Of course, compared to an American or Japanese vehicle that takes 85 or 87 grade, it's much more.


Diesel is the way to go. It should have been the choice of subsidies, not these hybrid. Problem is politics cause diesel to be expensive. It is cheaper to refine, has more energy per gallon than gasoline, diesel engines cost more but last longer due to the stronger materials they have to use because of the high diesel energy output (300,000 miles is about the life of a diesel engine), but diesel is taxed the hell out of it because semi trucks use it.

Low fuel consumption is always due to heavy right foot on the gas pedal.

As a car's speed increases, the wind resistance it encounters doesn't increase at the same rate. In fact, the wind resistance gets squared. In other words, if you double your car's speed, your wind resistance quadruples. And so it follows, if you cut your speed in half, your wind resistance is essentially divided by 4!


Its easy to get great gas mileage, I got 45 in my sunfire, I was going 45-55 on the highway. It was a test because I had alot of time and have one hell of a stereo system to relax to. Manual is really nice because you can coast all day long.

To get 84 mpg, you really have to be one of those assholes on the highway who go 45 in a 65 and in traffic go 0-30 in 5 minutes. its possible... but you really have to find a balance between how much time you want to spend and how much gas mileage you want. my 2012 WRX got 30mpg highway and 23 city... way better than sticker!


jackinthebox - you make the statement, "Understand the lobby effect of the big 3 they don't want any cars in the country that get better then 75MPG it would put them out of business." Are you suggesting that the big 3 are incapable of producing high mpg TDI vehicles that can compete with the europeans/germans? Frankly, I don't think this is the case. My sense is that the marketing folks at the big 3 see little demand for diesel cars.


If people in the US spent some time in another country driving a diesel car, then they would want one. The torque gives good acceleration and the mileage is awesome.


I purchased a 2013 TDI Passat about a month ago. I already have 4000 miles on the car and love it. It consistently gets more than the EPA posted on the sticker, and do not understand why VW is so conservative on their posted MPG. I get about 37 mpg around town and near 50 MPG on the highway. I can do this with normal driving habits while not doing anything unusual to try to save fuel.


I average over 60 mpg in my Prius and I don't have to put up with the slow diesel acceleration and the stink.

Carma responder

The 2012 TDI actually have fantastic acceleration, besting any Prius. From 0 to 60, 40 to 60, 60 to 80...TDI (even as a heavier vehicle) will outpace the Prius. As for the stink, today's diesels are not as stinky as they were in the 80's or 90's. They're choked down with converters and BlueTec, which greatly reduces particulates. The Prius may smell angelic when its engine isn't on. Good on ya. I don't hough on the tail pipes of any vehicle and nearly all vehicles today don't recirculate the exhaust into the cabin. No worries there.

Carma, you might find the latest TDI products to be a pleasant surprise, tipping your scales in favor of their total value if you will but try one for yourself at a local dealer. Take a test drive. I did. I bought one. :)

J.H. Holdiman

I drove my 2013 model from Cloudcroft NM to Carlsbad NM and got 88.4 mpg... This car is amazing... On top of it being the funnest car I have ever driven, my dealer gave me a lifetime drive-train warranty, built here in America, I think this is the best vehicle I will EVER own... AWESOME job to all those in the Tennessee plant!!! You have made America something we can be proud of!!!


@ Carma I doubt you are getting anywhere near 60mph in your prius. Diesel VW provides much more torque, better mileage, and produces much less smug.

I have 3 old rabbits which all get over 60mpg


I have a 2010 Jetta TDI, I average around 34-41 on the highway and I'm always on the throttle heavy. I bought this car because I get free fuel at work so I think my average is pretty good for not really coasting or taking it easy on the car. I also open it up from dead stop a lot to.


Rob is truthful. TDIs are good for about 30 mpg average and 41 on the highway on a good day. Prius costs half as much to drive in the city when you figure the lower price for gasoline and no need to buy fuel additives and urea needed for diesels.


I have a 2012 TDI Passat (or maybe its a 2013; all I know is I bought in in 2012.) I just finished driving from Virginia to Connecticut and averaged 56 mpg (which is actually lower than usual but its quite cold today.) I'm looking to buy an additional car but now I'm very frustrated: there is nothing available anywhere near as nice with mileage like this! I don't want to have two of the same car because its boring, but what do you do? Maybe I'll get a TDI Sportwagen or something. I just wish all the carmakers that make diesels for Europe (which is to say: all of them!) would sell them here too. What is wrong with this country?


Just remember to do your own math for mileage. Car computers are not always correct.


I was happy my 2011 Town & Country got 32 on our first road trip the the state of Mich and across the U.P to Wisconsin. After 3 tanks of gas before getting back to Detroit, my hwy avg was 31. 3 adults, luggage and 8 cases of pop (picked up in Chicago--no deposit)on the way home. It still hits 20 in the city and it's a friggin mini van. Not some little rice rocket. But my TDI Passat (2013) avg's 43hwy and 38 city. No big road trips yet.


Oh and yes, I own 2 Jeeps. 09 and 02. The 09 gets 22 hwy, 16 city and that's with all the mods I've done. It's pushing almost 4900lbs. Rockrails, lift, skids, hitch, bigger wheels/tires. I don't drive it hard so it's not bad as bad on fuel as some of the little station wagons on roids.


@Otis.. Jeep is coming out with a diesel in the next couple of months but it's in the Grand C and will be over $40K. Heard chevy may be putting one in the "Cruz" (sic?) but later in the summer.


Some people are anti-diesel here. I've owned plenty of cars in my 15+ years driving. And I've never been able to have such a heavy foot and get high fuel economy numbers as I have with my new vw diesel. I get my car up to above 100 mph regularly and can't always get above 40mpg. I can't get the car to dip under that, for trips of any decent length.


Yeah I drove a protype and got 153 mpg gallon.. I used water and walked.


I just picked up my new 2013 Passat tdi All I can say wow this car is cats meow all over roomy luxury drives like silk if it doesn't have TDI sticker on the back you would never know its diesel I have owned 1990 jetta but this car is nothing like it fuel mileage is crazy since I have left dealership I have made 809km and I still have 1/3 of the fuel left my average consumption shows 4.8 liter per 100km this is huge difference from my 07 ford ranger who was doing 15liter per 100 km I love it torque is awesome I have hitch put on mine and it hauls my atv anywhere with ease I think vw needs to do more to advertise this car my buddy has kia optima hybrid and he brags on his 6.7L/100km loland he paid 30K for that new Passat TDI fully loaded starts at 25K there is apsolutely no comparison this car is just simply awesome good job VW and on the other note this claim of 85MPG is hard to achieve you need to put 35PSI in all of you tires drive in high gear all time possible keep your RPM low and get behind transport very close to him so you can get some wind backdrag but than watch for rocks and debree coming from his tires and avoid sudden stops and starts also yea good luck with that thing is this car gets great mileage with out all of that crap and you can enjoy to ride your car


I just bought a 2014 VW Passat TDI SEL Premium and I achieved 56 MPG on the thruway at 70 mph for 65 miles to work and 65 miles back I achieved about 52..


Gasoline is now below $3 per gallon at some stations in my area, while diesel is at $4 per gallon. That means diesel fuel is now 30 percent more expensive -there goes the alleged savings in paying thousands extra for a diesel car. Now factor in the cost for urea, and the expensive fuel additives and the fuel system problems you'll have, and it makes a lot more sense to purchase a hybrid fusion, camry, sonata or accord, which deliver up to 50 mpg in the city, using cleaner and cheaper gasoline. Plus the high torque electric motors in these hybrids will walk away from a wheezing turbo diesel 4 every time. My prius has 295 pound feet of torque - plenty enough to show my tail lights to any sluggish diesel in the urban stoplight wars.

TDI fan

Very few hybrids (with the exception of the tin can prius) meet their expected EPA standards. Honda went thru litigation long ago, Kia/Hyundai in 2012, now ford is under scrutiny for their ford fusion. Neo, your prius has 100 feet of torque..(combined) All performance numbers (0-60, quarter, handling) are easily taken by the TDI. Sluggish, no. I will admit, if you drive in ECO mode and live in the city, the Prius is a no brainer. Get out on the hiway, pass a few cars, the TDI will be the clear winner, (especially in the smiles department)


If you are willing to lose money you can get slightly higher MPG by going diesel. But is higher MPG really a goal? The goal should be saving money which you do not do by pay more for a diesel engine and more for diesel fuel


Driving under the speed limit is extremely obnoxious. I the authors and commenters only drive under the speed limit when they are alone on the road. If you drive under the speed limit in traffic then you are incredibly selfish and incredibly cheap. You have time to waste in your car to save a few pennies?


TDI's post above is in error, regarding the torque of the Toyota Prius drivetrain. The electric motor in the Gen. 2 prius has V8 level torque and the car has traction control to avoid melting the tires. Here's a direct excerpt from Edmunds.com regarding the Prius drivetrain:

"The gas engine produces 76 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque, while the electric-drive motor produces the equivalent of 67 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Net peak hp is 110, mainly because the two power sources hit their peak at different times. Regardless, power delivery is smooth and consistent from rest all the way to top speed."


Since we are all on here arguing over-all price/ cost, let's remember that diesels have historically lasted and continue to last much longer than your average vehicle, much less the lesser known longevity of hybrids. In fact, one might be able to argue as much as three times more longevity! I've seen Diesels well over 300k miles, and recently saw a few on CL with over 500k miles, and still with life left.

My insight is that I owned a Prius for a year, and have never been so handicapped by a car before. I originally was excited to see the 50mpg mark reached, but it came at quite a price, and making quite a few drivers behind me angry. I consistently found myself addicted to watching the numbers, and the bottom line is that I HATED DRIVING THE PRIUS! Plus, it got harder and harder to get even 43-47mpgs in only one year of having it.

So I traded it in for a 2013 Passat, AND LOVE IT! It is so fun to drive. Lots of torque, won't win any 0-60 times, unless racing with a Prius, but still feels fast and fun. AND, I get easily over 50mpg's on the highway, and can get anywhere between 30-40mpg's in town. Not as good as the Prius, but GUESS WHAT??? The Passat is not even in the same class as the Prius! They're not comparable in any way. The Passat is refined, and quiet, and smooth, and ROOMY! The Prius feels like, as one person mentioned, a tin can.


In brutal taxi service, priuses routinely go more than 300,000 miles with the original drivetrain and battery pack. I don't think a passat tdi would hold up too long as a taxi. Consumer reports did a story about how to get maximum durability from your car and the photo they used featured a 2005 prius with 320,000 miles on the original drivetrain. According to the EPA the prius gets 60 percent better mileage in the city than passat tdi, using gasoline that is now under $3 per gallon. Diesel fuel is 30 percent more expensive, and the vw dealer wants another $30 per gallon for the urea needed to clean the filthy tdi emissions. That's why prius is destroying diesel vws on the sales charts.


More evidence that prius matches or surpasses diesel durability: A prius taxi in Vienna recently hit one million kilometers with no major failures and only routine maintenance. That's over 621,000 miles. They plan to run it another million kilometers. You're right, David , Passat TDI is not in the same class as prius or any Toyota for that matter.


Mine does 80+ at 45mph.


I drive a 2011 TDI Jetta Sportwagen and routinely get 40mpg @75mph on the freeway. On long trips, I have averaged over 50. If I try to squeeze every MPG out of the car, it delivers, and it is very forgiving when I do not. Out of every tank I generally get anywhere between 550-750 miles. I drove from Great Falls, MT to Minot, ND (550 miles) and had enough fuel to drive around Minot for 4 days before fueling up for the return trip. I love this car!


Once you go diesel you never go back had gas cars and hybrids nothing like a diesel no driving like grandma to achieve good mpgs I drive like a bat out of hell in my now diesel get 50 plus on the highway my hybrid camry that I had before baby it to get 37 mpgs plus it was built like a soda can cant believe I wasted time in my life to purchase a hybrid camry hybrids own you you have drive a certain way to make it efficient SUCKED! Hybrids are only good for city driving not the 100 mile work drive I have to do i spent more money in gas a week in the camry then the diesel even when gas is cheaper. got close to 450 miles a tank in my hybrid and 700 miles a tank in my now heavy comfortable diesel plus I dont have to worry about that heavy environmentally hazardous battery anymore $1800 fee to remove from Toyota dealership if battery poops out thats $4800 to replace $6600

jetta setter

I just drove from the bay area in ca to san diego in my 2010 jetta tdi with 6 spd manual transmission. It took me 6 hours to drive 500 miles, thats roughly 80 miles per hour the whole way. I frequently used cruise control. When i got home and filled my tank and divided my miles driven by gas used, i average 53 mpg. I used 5/8 of a tank on the trip and paid $2.50 a gal. When i fueled up before i left and made no stops the whole trip.

tall tales

My diesel is faster than a z28 camaro and gets 200 mpg. Don't believe the US Energy Information Agency if they tell you diesel fuel costs 45 percent more than gasoline.

all the things

I actually had 2 camaros one was a z28, my turbo diesel is faster and gets 3 times the gas mileage... handles better... more comfortable... and has better gadgets...

ignorance sucks

I hate all the ignorance about fuel economy. And all the stupid back and forth between diesel and hybrid fans.

I love diesel tech, own a 2010 Golf 6 TDI w/MT6. I regularly get around 53mpg on the highway.

Hybrids offer the benefit of regenerative braking, and make a lot of sense in city driving. Plug in ability is nice also.

The newest VW TDIs sold in USA won't get 53mpg doing 80+mph, as the poster above suggested (SF to SD, Ca). Especially not in winter air temps. Even with a strong tail wind.

I drove my Golf TDI down the I15 from Idaho to So Cal in November, cold weather. I averaged 44mpg doing 85mph. The wind conditions helped. But what helped most was drafting SUVs and such. Otherwise I would have got about 39mpg.

BTW, using a heavy foot (80% of full throttle) when accelerating actually helps fuel economy in internal combustion engines.

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