THE SELL: The ultimate road-trip machine.
THE TEST: Thanks to a 43mpg diesel engine, the Passat can go from San Francisco to Reno and back on one 18-gallon tank. But VW’s concessions to the long drive don’t stop there: the rear seats are roomy enough that your six-foot friends don’t have to ride shotgun. It’s available in front-wheel drive only, but with snow tires it can handle the worst highway conditions nearly as well as an all-wheel vehicle. We preferred the six-speed manual to the automatic: it’s $2,000 cheaper and bumps up the gas mileage by a hair (3mpg).
THE VERDICT: Diesel isn’t sold everywhere, but with a range of almost 800 miles you can keep driving to the next county—or state. 31mpg city/35 hwy
Diesel engines like the Passat's get as much as 35 percent better gas mileage than their unleaded counterparts.