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Ask AutoGuide No. 39
Midsize sedans represent a massive slice of the automotive pie. These four-door cars almost single handedly (or wheely?) form the backbone of America’s personal transportation network, shuttling people practically everywhere they need and want to go. Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal, and as a salute to these hard-working automobiles they’re the subject of this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide.
Before trucks and utility vehicles became all the rage, large sedans used to be the heart of the American car market. They dominated thoroughfares and back roads of this country for decades. Big Buicks, mighty Mopars and forceful Fords were a way of life for drivers just half a lifetime ago.
Which family sedan offers the most, for the least?
Volkswagen continues to flex just how efficient its diesel models are, with a 2012 Passat TDI SE claiming a new world record by traveling 1,626.1 miles on a single tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel.
The record was previously held by another Passat, – a 1.6 BlueMotion diesel model out in Europe – at 1,526.6 miles. John and Helen Taylor were the two drivers behind the wheel of the world record-setting journey traveling from Houston to Sterling on May 3rd to the 5th. The couple added 120 pounds of luggage to the vehicle in order to replicate normal driving situations and each took turns driving but never more than 14 hours per day.
Doing the math, the six-speed manually equipped diesel Passat averaged an astonishing 84.1 miles per gallon. The Taylors claimed they traveled exactly 60-mph on the highway in order to hit the mark. But don’t bother trying this yourself, the Taylors are self-proclaimed driving efficiency experts and have over 90 fuel economy and driving records around the world. In fact, they make a living conducting fuel-efficient driving workshops.
“We’re excited to have broken the record for the longest distance driven on one-tank of fuel. The Passat TDI was the perfect car for the trip. It offers plenty of interior and cargo space, yet is frugal enough to help us achieve this record,” said a jubilant John Taylor.
GALLERY: World Record Setting VW Passat Diesel
The Volkswagen Jetta will see a new top-of-the-line trim level called the SEL Plus later this year, though the more exciting news is that Volkswagen plans to replace its 2.5-liter inline-four with a 1.8-liter turbo-four next year.
The new high-end SEL Plus trim will see softer-touch materials in the interior, and like the GLI model, the American counterpart will more closely resemble all the upgrades and refinements seen in the European version, including electric power steering.
The U.S. could have a plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen in the relatively near future. The company already has a hybrid Jetta on the way for the 2013 model year, but this version of the car would take electrical implementation to the next level.
We’ve known about the possibility of a plug-in hybrid for quite some time, but details have been sketchy at best. Watching each automaker deal with the growing demand for fuel efficiency has been interesting to say the least, but for the most part Volkswagen remained firmly in the diesel segment. That’s all set to change with the 2013 model year marking the hybrid Jetta’s release, but that isn’t the end of the story according to Car and Driver.
An article they published suggests that the fabled plug-in hybrid we reported briefly back in May of last year is relatively close to release. They report that the car will feature the same 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four cylinder making 150 hp. Of course, the plug-in will have, well, a place to put a charging cable meant to replenish the larger battery paired to the car’s electric motor.
Though it isn’t clear which car will surface with the plug-in setup, a Volkswagen executive told Car and Driver that it will be in a mass market segment: in other words one of their top sellers. That means something along the lines of the Jetta, Passat or Beetle, though we don’t know which yet.
[Source: Car and Driver]