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2004 Volkswagen Passat GLS TDI New Car Review:

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By Bob Gordon Co-Publisher The Auto Channel

Wow! The 2004 VW Passat TDI not only impressed me with its good looks and its drivability, it actually added a new dimension to my joy of driving …I just could not help but smile as I glanced at the MPG computer readout visible in the speedometer and saw 46.7MPG.

In these days of rising fuel costs and more places to drive, it is amazing to me that there is no waiting list for this car like there is for the much touted Hybrids. Although with a few more reviews like this one and some (even just a little) marketing, advertising and promotion by Volkswagen (here on The Auto Channel), the waiting time to buy this model will stretch into months…and, why not I say.

I believe that the clean diesel powered passenger vehicle will become the darling of the “World Between”…between today’s gas guzzlers and tomorrow’s hydrogen powered cars.

The hype that the Hybrids are getting is well deserved …they are the vanguard of products and technologies that will lead us to the day when automobile drivers will never have to fill up with a fuel that has been pumped from the ground…I and many others believe that it’s time to get off mother nature's breast…but until gasoline/electric hybrid turns into hydrogen fuel cell hybrids, I think that it makes good sense to own a car that can travel many hundreds of miles on just a few gallons of Diesel fuel or even a Bio-Diesel blend of diesel and used vegetable oil.

The test car that was delivered to me by the great guys from Specialty Transport was a Passat GLS TDI sedan...with an automatic transmission, cloth interior, Monsoon stereo, power windows and doors, and not much else…in other words it was the kind of car most of us can afford…the MSRP was under $25 grand and I’m sure that with a little negotiation it could be in your driveway for less than $23K.

What you get for this price blows the Passat TDI’s competition out of the water and puts it in a class by itself for top fuel efficient family or big guy sized cars. And by the way, although every Japanese and European car maker offers diesel power around the world, the Passat stands alone, there are no other diesel powered cars in its class sold here in North America…that’s right NO OTHER! I guess that the car makers believe that we dumb Americans will not flinch at $2 buck and up gas…but we are beginning to.

The Passat TDI gets fantastic mileage, in fact during my short test I drove 1352 miles…on the road and in town, and averaged 38 mile per gallon. Cruising at or above legal limit I was getting over 46 miles per gallon...this out of a 5 passenger real sized car, not a “let’s build a small car with a small engine to help our fleet fuel averages” sized tiny sedan.

The Passat is a serious car for those serious about how their car feels and performs and how it sips rather than guzzles fuel.

I can’t believe that every on the road salesman has not traded her/his old gas powered sedan and move into the “World Between” with a Volkswagen Passat TDI…big enough for comfort practical enough for even the pinchy’est of penny pinchers.

After just a week with the car I became a fan. The Passat TDI gave me everything that a gasoline guzzler gave me…lots of room, pick up, smooth ride, a really big trunk, a good sound system and an MSRP of less than $25,000, a price even I would pay for my family car.

"Diesel, diesel you say…Oh yeah, I remember those, they smelled funny and sounded funny and drove funny and oh you know…diesel?"

Well my friends the times are changing, while driving this clean diesel powered car there was no plume of soot following me, no clickty clack diesel sound, and I did not have to adjust the way I drove, the Passat did not lack pickup power. In fact with 247 lbs of torque at 1900 RPM I could leave rubber upon acceleration. (Oops)

SURPRISE - The TDI’s 2.0 Liter engine delivers more torque than does the gasoline engines in the Volvo S80; Mercedes E320; Pontiac Bonneville; Lexus 330 Sedan; Buick Park Avenue; Toyota Camry; Audi A6; and on and on. To rank the cars sold in the U.S. by torque and every other criteria just click here. Read My Lips It's The Torque.

The recent advent of hybrids with very little horsepower, and the high gasoline prices are enticing smart Americans to begin to appreciate and understand the benefits of high torque producing diesel engines and not just the tremendous horsepower that has been crammed down our throats and our minds and our souls.

As positive as this review is, I still have some more questions that need to be answered; how does the TDI do over the long haul?; what happens when the temperature drops below zero?; can I find diesel fuel at the nearest gas station?; what about service?; what about reliability?. There are lots of questions that need every day, every week, and every month, driving to answer. Stay tuned for updates…

But in spite of my remaining questions, if you are in the market for a new car and don’t put the VW Passat TDI at the top of your list, you give up your right to complain about the high cost of keeping your car filled with fuel…yeah yeah that’s me smirking as I drive by with more than a half of tank of fuel to go…boy am I smart or what, ain't life grand!

TACH Bonus Editorial!

Audience research has shown that a majority of The Auto Channel’s visitors are smart, rich (and good looking too)and care about the cars they drive, and after they read, and learn and test drive, I believe that they will appreciate the many benefits of today’s Clean Diesel Power Click Here and jump to a cool Clean Diesel Tutorial.

I thought you might like to see an e-mail that The Auto Channel’s curmudgeon Milton Snide received from a loyal TACH viewer in response to Milton’s positive remarks about Diesel Powered Vehicles.


I bought a VW Jetta TDI last May 2003. This is a great car to drive, lots of power, clean and fantastic mileage! I am getting 52 mpg on the highway (75 mph, 2 people in the car with the air on) and mid 40's around town. I have been using a blend of bio diesel since day one (B5-B10) with no problems.

Why are people waiting in line for hybrids with disappointing performance when they could drive a real car with proven performance, better mileage (in most cases) and allows one to be as green as you like with bio-diesel blends from B2 to B100. Bio oil crops could improve things for American farmers, start a new industry for American workers, improve the environment etc. I have tried to find a down side to this car... I can't.

James A. Lotz
Dept. of Music
Tennessee Tech University

Professor Lotz says it better than I ever could. He has the passion and first hand knowledge of being a long term Clean Diesel Owner.

Last year Professor Lotz had a choice of just one VW TDI model, but that was before the 2004 Passat TDI Sedan and Wagon came on the scene.