• 48-state road trip attempts to dethrone world record holder
  • Passat TDI piloted by expert "hypermiler" Wayne Gerdes
  • Team must use fewer than 139.82 gallons of fuel to break record

The 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI is the vehicle of choice for a Guinness World Record attempt to achieve the lowest fuel consumption for a non-hybrid vehicle driving through each of the 48 contiguous U.S. states.

The current record, established in 2009 by an Australian couple, stands at 139.82 gallons. Over the course of that 9,505-mile trip, Helen and John Taylor posted an average of 67.90 miles per gallon to set the record in a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

Behind the wheel of the diesel-powered Passat for this latest attempt is Wayne Gerdes, a "hypermiler" and automotive journalist, and founder of the website cleanMPG.com. Gerdes already holds a Guinness World Record for his 2011 drive in a Kia Optima Hybrid. He achieved an average of 64.55 mpg on that nearly 8,000-mile trip.

Accompanying Gerdes is Bob Winger, an electronics engineer. The two drivers started at Volkswagen's headquarters in Herndon, Va., and will travel approximately 8,000 miles in a 2-week round trip.

Gerdes is confident the 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI can break the current record, thanks in part to the vehicle's 43-mpg highway fuel economy rating and his proven techniques to stretch a gallon of fuel.

"It's going to be a great adventure and I'm confident we can improve upon the current record of 67.9 mpg in the fuel-efficient Passat TDI," Gerdes said.

Gerdes is sharing his experience on his website, and through his and Volkswagen's social media channels. He and Winder have already reached the western-most states in the continental U.S. and are on the return trip east. The pair has posted average fuel economy as high as 101 mpg, but strong headwinds have increased fuel consumption. Gerdes' latest update shows an average of 63.2 mpg for the current leg of the journey.

For a real-time look at the world record attempt, follow VW on Facebook or Twitter. And if fuel economy is a top consideration in your next vehicle, check out VW's fuel-efficient TDI models and other, newly available diesels from automakers such as Chevrolet, Jeep and Audi.

What it means to you: Wayne Gerdes illustrates how drivers can achieve surprisingly high fuel economy in unmodified new vehicles. The latest world record attempt in the Passat TDI has a good chance of posting lower consumption than either the Jetta TDI record-holder or the Kia Optima Hybrid, which holds the record for hybrid vehicles.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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