Reader Question: Which VW Diesel?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

David asks: If you were looking for a VW diesel-powered auto, such as a Golf or other, what would you suggest? Best for me would be an older model for various reasons, even though the mileage might be higher. Overall reasons are excellent fuel economy, perhaps engine longevity and not having to deal with ethanol issues. The newer VW is not something I know a lot about. I have never bought a new car in my life and do not intend to start now.

My reply: Part of this is of subjective – we each have our preferences as regards vehicle configuration – but I’ll give you my mine for what it’s worth!

I really like the Golf Sportwagen with the TDI diesel and manual six-speed transmission. It’s a car with a small footprint but with as much or more room inside – especially for cargo – than larger vehicles, with the lower rider height/loading-unloading ease of a wagon configuration. The manual makes it a lot of fun to drive and the TDI diesel makes it a very (45-50 MPG) economical car to drive. The Alltrack version adds all-wheel-drive to the mix, if you need the extra grip in winter.

The only downside is finding one for sale. These are popular cars – so if you find one in good shape for a reasonable price, snap it up!

I also like the Golf TDI, which has similar virtues due to its tall/box shape and it has the additional virtue of being more common. Ditto the Jetta TDI.

Honestly, I think you’d be very happy with any TDI-powered VWs. They are great cars and were targeted for just that reason.

Keep us posted!

. . .

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  1. My sister bought a 2014 Passat TDI automatic for $10k in April in the middle of the lockdown. It’s fun to drive due to low-end torque that sets you back in your seat and it makes a good family car for her and her kids. It gets good gas mileage but the diesel is more expensive. The center stack digital display with backup camera screen glitches, so she needs to get it fixed. Other than putting new tires on it, she hasn’t has any other problems.

    I bought a new 2019 Jetta S manual (gasoline burner since diesel is no longer available) in August of 2019 for $18k and get better gas mileage than my sister for any number of reasons that Eric would probably be better at explaining. The 2019 Jetta S does not have auto-stop-start or very many “smart” features. The 2020 does have that stuff.

  2. Ever notice you never see old-ish VWs on the road? They may get great MPGs…and with the diesels, the engines may last- but the trouble is: VW’s horrific electrical systems, electronics, cheesy plastic parts, limited availability of independent service (Mechanics who have the know-how to competently and efficiently fix the damn things, and the special tools needed to do so, tend to work either for the dealers…or be equally high-priced if independent)….kinda negates any fuel savings; and it don’t matter so much if the engine lasts, if the rest of the car falls apart, or requires multiple multi-thousand dollar repairs……

    Unless ya don’t keep cars very long….

      • Hi Zane,
        Mk4’s were the dark ages for VW? I’m not sure what you mean about that. The Mk4 was the pinnacle of modern, comfortable, simple, easy to fix and reliable VW’s made. I have been fixing VW’s, as a profession, since 1980. I have seen the progression through the years. Mk5’s are crap! The only Mk6 I would buy is a 2011-2015 Jetta 2.0 non-turbo (2.slow) Yes Nunz, like every other car, plastic parts deteriorate.

        David, If you want a simple TDI, go with the ALH model (Mk4) Either learn to do the maintenance yourself (the tools are not that expensive, the repair info is readily available on the ‘net) or find a local independent wrench.


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