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2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI Hits All 48 Lower States on $300 of Diesel

  • 2015 VW Golf TDI has the best fuel consumption for a nonhybrid
  • TDI sees 81.17 mpg in cross-country drive
  • Won Guinness Book of World Records record for low fuel consumption

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI at 31 miles per gallon in the city, 43 mpg on the highway and 36 mpg combined. That’s pretty good fuel consumption, and it’s just one of many compelling reasons to buy this excellent compact hatch.

But the Golf TDI is capable of achieving much better figures: 81.17 mpg. That’s the average obtained by Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger on their epic diesel-sipping trip throughout all 48 lower states. The total fuel cost was $294.98, and in the process, they were awarded “Lowest fuel consumption — 48 U.S. contiguous states for a nonhybrid car” by the Guinness Book of World Records.

It took them 16 days to cover 8,233.5 miles. They encountered all sorts of weather conditions, virtually every kind of topography the great American landscape could throw at them and challenging traffic situations. All these things have an impact on how much fuel is used, but this was far from the first eco-driving rodeo for Mr. Gerdes and Mr. Winger.

Both gentlemen are experts at squeezing out the maximum mileage from every little drop of fuel. With this record, Gerdes beat his previous record of 77.99 mpg in a 2013 VW Passat TDI. Incidentally, the closest a hybrid has ever come is 74.34 mpg.

“Volkswagen’s TDI clean diesel engines are just amazing,” said Gerdes. “I don’t think people realize the potential mileage you can get from them. In our experience, it is possible to get truly impressive mileage by using just a few simple fuel-saving techniques.”

Some of those techniques really are simple: don’t exceed the speed limit (that will save money in speeding tickets, too), be gentle with throttle and brake inputs, and don’t go rushing up to red traffic lights, brake hard and sit there with the engine ticking over. Instead, approach steadily as the lights change and then sail through on the green. These techniques apply to both gasoline and diesel engines.

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI starts at $23,165 (including a $820 destination charge). It uses a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine for 150 horsepower and a meaty 236 lb-ft of torque. The mpg figures above are for versions with the 6-speed direct-shift gearbox dual-clutch automated transmission. Models with the standard 6-speed manual transmission are rated at 30 mpg city, 45 mpg hwy and 36 mpg combined. Gerdes and Winger drove a manual version, and they used Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires and Shell ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel throughout this record-setting feat.

What it means to you: As we all become more aware of saving fuel and reducing emissions, information like this is useful.

Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More about Colin Ryan

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