VW TDI Spotter’s Guide

November 8th, 2011

Text by Chris Tobin

Photos by Chris Tobin and courtesy of Volkswagen and MF Automotive

The 2010 TDI Cup edition—perhaps the sportiest TDI to roll off the VW assembly line.

Which Ones to Consider and Why

With no end in sight to the high price of fuel, many people are rethinking their daily drivers. And while hybrid and electric cars may be all the rage among the Hollywood elite and the tree-huggers, it is very easy to see that these cars are not the environmentally friendly solution that many people believe they are—since it will take more pollution-spewing powerplants to charge the things.

So what solution is viable? We believe that well-designed, efficient, turbo-diesel engines powering well-built, small-to-midsized cars are very viable solutions. And the infrastructure to support these vehicles already exists.

With fuel mileage ranging from lows of around 38 to 40 mpg on heavily modified TDIs driven very hard, to 50-plus on stock and lightly modified cars driven conservatively, putting a VW TDI in your driveway may be the perfect solution to high fuel prices. Depending on the amount of driving you do, using a fuel-efficient TDI could actually pay for itself in fuel savings during your daily commute.

These early diesel VWs get good mileage but are noisy and have fewer performance options available than their more-modern counterparts.

For instance, if you drive 50 miles a day during your five-day work week commute in your diesel truck that gets 15 mpg, it would cost you about $67 per week (about $290 a month) in fuel, at $4 per gallon. However, if you were to drive the same 50 miles a day in a TDI at 45 mpg, it would only cost around $22 per week/about $96 per month in fuel. This would put nearly $200 back in your pocket each month—enough to cover the payment on most used TDIs.

The savings gets even better the more you drive: at 100 miles a day, the savings would be about $385 per month. So, if you purchased a TDI to use during the week, you would still be able to keep your truck for fun on the weekends—while saving money during the week. Talk about a win-win situation!

Here is an inside look at a 2.0L VW TDI engine. The compact size and lightweight design allow VW to fit the diesel into most of its smaller cars, including the Beetle, Jetta and Golf. it is also used in the larger Passat.

The folks at Volkswagen seem to agree with us, since they have been building and selling a great number of TDI vehicles stateside for years.

However, with so many different models and engines out there, buying a VW TDI can be a confusing process. We put together this buyer’s guide to show you not only what is available, but also to give you some of the high and low points of most of the VW TDIs that are available here in the United States.

No matter which VW TDI you choose, you can be sure that it will be more fuel-efficient than your truck. Just be sure to have it checked out by a VW TDI expert (especially if you are not familiar with the nuances of TDI cars) before you plunk down your hard-earned cash.


Kelly Blue Book

Dept. DW


MF Automotive

Dept. DW

5611 Washington Pike

Knoxville, TN 37918




Dept. DW


Volkswagen of America

Dept. DW

800.DRIVE.VW (800.374.8389)


Tags: , , , , , ,


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.