Volkswagen TDI real life diesel gas mileage: wow!

Two summers ago (in 2008), I bought a used 2007 Prius.

But it wasn’t my first choice of automobile. You see, what I really wanted to buy was a white 2009 Volkswagen TDI Jetta or Jetta wagon. They were just coming out in the US, and there was a big waiting list.

I put down my deposit and waited, and waited. But after six weeks, there was still nothing in sight for my desired color and options.

The funny part was that there was a huge waiting list for the Prius too, because it was the period of time when gas was really expensive, and everyone was panicking and buying high mileage cars.

One day I called my Volkswagen sales guy to complain and gave him the idle threat, “Oh well, it’s no big deal if you can’t get me a Jetta, I guess. If Toyota calls me and says they have a white Prius first, I’ll just buy that instead.”

That’s when the salesman told me that he actually had a 2007 used white Prius on their Volkswagen lot that they had just taken as a trade in, with only 12,000 miles on it, at a really good price.

So I jumped and bought it. And it’s actually been a great car.

But I still look back and think, “What if I could have gotten a Jetta clean diesel instead?”

Today, by complete accident, I ran into the Volkswagen TDI Tank Wars web site. It’s a site where you can take a photo of your dashboard displaying your real life gas mileage with any TDI clean diesel Volkswagen.

There are real people who are getting 50, 60,  and 70 miles per gallon! The leader got 98 miles per gallon!

You have to drive at least 15 miles before you’re eligible to upload a dashboard photo. But many of these people are showing hundreds or thousands of miles of getting this kind of mileage.

How’s that for awesome?

Check it out yourself at the Volkswagen Tank Wars web site.

What kind of real life mileage have you gotten with your VW clean diesel car, and which model was it?

Leave a comment and tell us!


  1. Last tank I got 831 miles on my 2010 Golf TDI manual.
    Not bad, bad it can still improve a bit. At least I hope that it breaks in and gets better

  2. As an owner of a new TDI wagon, I love what you say. But the truth is the guy who got 98 MPG went downhill. Don’t believe it. As an ex Prius owner, here’s the truth. The VW TDI Sportwagon is AWESOME. It’s very close to a Prius in gas, mileage. But it has MUCH more storage, a huge sunroof, and it’s fast…like a sports car. I can’t believe such a big, wonderful car gets such great gas mileage! Goodbye Prius!

    Please don’t expect 98mpg. I’m getting 28mpg city with heavy traffic and the A/C on and 48 or more on the highway. Try beating that with a “real” car (which a Prius isn’t).

  3. Smart people – so why there so few of you?

    I like the concept that there was a relatively new Prius on the lot of a VW Dealership. Obviously someone traded in an almost new Prius on a VW TDI. No surprise.

    We have contacted Toyota with the following message: We love the Prius design – we are waiting with anticipation for the day you replace all the hybrid hardware with a B100 compatible advanced diesel engine that will get 75mpg off the assembly line offering considerably better safety, performance and lower emissions – powered with a totally sustainable, environmentally friendly, zero carbon life cycle fuel (B100).

    Good news – 24B gallons of sustainable biodiesel per year grown and processed in the US within about 6-7 years. It is coming.

  4. what do you do if you accidently put regular gas intro diesel engine, but do not start the car?

  5. A late comment if I may. I have had a 2001 TDI for 5 years now and I watch my mileage religiously. The very best I was ever able to obtain was 71mpg (imperial gallons – Canadian eh). In the process of doing that I pretty much destroyed the windshield and paint on the hood from drafting semis. But with little effort and no illegal/dangerous trickery I can get 65mpg. this would be 98% highway and barely averaging 90kph. Driven “normally” with occasional passing and 100kph I always get at least 61 mpg. But before you run off to buy ask lots of people how reliable their car has been because I am on my third engine! Every cent I saved on fuel I have put into repairs….and then some. But what a great highway car! Depending on the day I love it or hate it. I won’t buy another VW but I will defintely buy another diesel. Probably the new Mazda diesel in 2012. Once you had that torque to play with you’ll never go back to gas.

  6. We have a 2009 TDI Jetta wagon and get mid 30’s in town during the summer and low 30’s in town during the winter. Highway mileage is low to mid 40’s depending on speed. The crossbars on the roof rack also cut a few mpg from the highway when they are mounted. We’ve squeezed over 50 but were not really driving it like we normally do. That was almost all highway and we kept it near 60mph with the cruise on. We’ve got just over 20k on it and have had no problems so far short of the low tire warning coming on during cold spells.

  7. I have an 03 golf, absolutely love it for gas milage. I was getting about 40 mpg Highway/city with a bit of a lead foot. With an oil change and file filter I’m now getting about 50 mpg.

  8. To Donald Piehl: Suck it out with a hose

  9. What ever those prius get just make sure to get out of the way and PLEASE STAY on the slow lane, thank you. Some people have road rage with slow moving traffic so take this as a plead and advice to prius owners. Thank you.

  10. Hi there:

    We’ve owned our Prius for about four years now, and it has nearly 180,000 miles on it. The past two summers we’ve driven it on roadtrips from Seattle to Southern California and back through the Sierra, so it’s gotten a great workout in a variety of situations: twisty mountain curves, flat I-5 droning, stop-and-go SoCal freeways. We consistently get 47-50 mph without thinking about trying to drive it for mileage — it’s happy chuckling along at 75 mph, its two motors swapping duties contentedly. And frankly, I find myself chafing behind slow VWs as often as I find VWs eager to pass me. I think Toyota and VW could do better in the MPG department. Maybe VW’s super efficient Polo will be the next big leap.

  11. We have a 2009 Jetta TDI that we bought new in Aug of 08. We usually get around 38 – 40 mpg on the highway, driving 70-75 mph. We’ve gotten higher mileage by driving slower, occasionally averaging around 42-45. The only time we get such extreme mpg is if we’re going downhill or let off the gas. It’s not an accurate measurement of mileage, just a quick moment. I could take a picture of my dashboard getting such good mileage that it can’t even keep track anymore and it goes to “——–“. That doesn’t mean I’m getting infinite mileage! But…we love our car and have had no probs with it! Every time I gas up our pickup, I love our car even more!

  12. I have a 1999 Beetle GLS TDI/5-speed, which I purchased in 2005 with a 129k on the clock. At that time it consistently averaged 600 miles on 12 gallons of fuel (50mpg). My best tank average was 700 miles and 54mpg, this was achieved using some of the hyper -mileage tricks mainly coasting when ever possible. Now it has 254k, my current yearly average is 47 mpg. I do all of my maintenance and have have never had any reliability issues with the drivetrain.

    My normal commute is 90 miles round trip, 5% City, 95% Highway.

  13. Having owned a high mileage compact GAS car and now a TDI the advantage is having power. My old compact gas car was a gutless wonder that had to be way over reved to get on the freeway or pass safely.
    The big TDI mileage figures? Its all bogus hype. I’ve yet to see one where they are showing the AVERAGE mileage over any reasonable distance. We all can coast downhill and get +200mpg for the duration of the coasting. If we parked at the top of the hill and waited long enough for the computer to reset the 200mpg could even represent the average MPG while coasting down the hill but this can be done with any car.
    The idea here is I can drive the TDI like I would a normal gas car and have decent performance AND fuel mileage.

  14. We own two 2012 VW Golf TDI’s. Real life fuel mileage far exceeds EPA sticker figures. I do not hypermile, but drive frugally at the speed limit. Over 6,000 miles on my car and I’m getting consistently 38 mpg driven in town. On highway trips, 52 mpg, and on those trips the vehicle is driven for considerable distance, about 150 miles at a time. Level, with some hills, at 65 mph on the interstate and 55 mph on the two lane roads using cruise control. The very worst I’ve ever done for an entire tank was 37 mpg during some very cold weather we had recently. I always go at least 500 miles on a tank of fuel and usually pass 550 before I hit the gas station again. A recent lengthy trip in my wife’s even newer TDI yielded similar numbers. And even though diesel is a little pricier than regular, we had a gasoline engine GTI and Honda Civic that we put premium unleaded in before buying the TDI’s, and there’s little difference in price here in Oregon between diesel and premium unleaded, so we feel we’re giving little away as far as the price per gallon. No way can you achieve these types of numbers in a gasoline engine vehicle. So far, I’m thoroughly impressed with these VW’s. I understand that as time goes on and the engines break in, fuel mileage only gets better.

  15. One can expect greater fuel efficiency and decent performance stats from the newly launched Volkswagen Jetta TDi model.

  16. Just stumbled across this site. I have a 2001 Golf diesel TDI four-door automatic. I’m not a person who coddles cars. I change the fluids and filters on schedule, but I’m not a car nut. I don’t garage my car and I rarely wash it. I drive on potholed streets in New Orleans, use it as a moving van, use it for animal transport, commute from city to city, sit in traffic, transport wheelchairs and groceries, and just take the thing for granted. I have moved everything from furniture to a pallet of dog food to a refrigerator in it. To me a car is a working stiff, not a toy. Aside from regular oil changes, in the past decade or so I have had it in the shop four times, all four in the last few years: a broken universal belt and a new timing belt while they were in there fixing that; once to clean the fuel tank, fuel lines and fuel pump when someone trying to be “helpful” put gasoline in it; once for an electrical problem, and once to replace the glow plugs and battery (yes, the first battery lasted ten years). I love, love, love this car. As non-nurturing as I am to things with motors, I somehow get about 40mpg on average from a tank on the highway; high 30s sitting in traffic in the city.

  17. I don’t have a TDI but a 1.8 L gas engine 1990 Golf. I’ve looked but find it difficult to justify buying a TDI. We regularly drive a 1,000 km (600 mile) round trip from coastal British Columbia to the Okanagan region. The route is hilly going between sea level and over several 1,200 m (4,000 ft) summits, so there’s lots of pulling up long mountainous grades, the steepest between 8% and 11% grade (down to 4th gear on the 11%). Anyways, I regularly get 6.2 L/100 km (45 MPG imperial, 38 MPG US gallon) with a gas engine. Worst mileage is around 6.8 L/100 km fully loaded with luggage and a car top box. Doing the calculations, I wouldn’t save enough on any difference in mileage to justify the premium price of a diesel powered car. Anyone else come to a similar conclusion? City driving I get about 10-11 L/100 km.

  18. We can save fuel for future by using this technology.I would like to see more details about this topic. I’m going to keep coming back here.

  19. I just got my Jetta TDI 2013 and I am in love!!! It is the best car ever! I am still breaking it in..but averaging about 38 mpg!!!! How awesome is that??? I went from that to my Jetta 2011 which was about 24 mpg! I can not stress enough how much I love this car!! Anyone is doubt or wondering if you should get one….do NOT hesitate!! I promise you won’t regret it! Best car EVER!!!!

  20. We’ve had our 2011 Jetta SportsWagen TDI for two years now. In this period, our car has averaged, over the 18,800 miles driven, around 35mpg mixed-cycle city and highway. Driving to work every day, I get between 37 and 40 mpg. That’s a hilly road with light to moderate traffic and a whole bunch of lights and intersections. In other words – as average as you can get. The max we got was 52 mpg driving on the highway at 55 mph. But seriously, the only time you drive like that is when you have a cop behind you all the way (yes, that’s how it was for me).

    We also have a Nissan Sentra. On the same roads, the same cycle, it gets about 27 mpg.

    So, the VW gets about 30% better fuel efficiency. Diesel costs about 10c – 20c more per gallon than regular, which right now means a 5% premium. That means driving the same distance, the same cycle, we are saving at least 25% on gas.

    On top of that the VW offers amenities the Sentra, or the non-car Prius, cannot ever hope to offer. It has over 200 lb/ft of torque. When you press on the gas, you hear “vroom”, not an excuse. We have enough space in the back to carry all we need: home improvement supplies, camping gear, moving boxes. We also have a roof rack (Whispbar – no impact on mpg), and have carried all kinds of stuff on it. And best of all, it drives like a great car.

    Of course for some people the Prius is just right. It gets excellent mileage while getting you from point A to point B. But don’t call it a car. It’s a commuter vehicle. The VW diesels are real cars, with fuel economy comparable to hybrids. And after two years, I can say the SportsWagen has been the best car I’ve ever had.

  21. Just bought a 2013 TDI Golf. Im going from a 2007 Jeep Wrangler. I am looking forward to the mileage increase. Even tho the diesel is higher now i’m sure the almost double MPG I will get helps the pain at the pump. I paid about average based on the sticker but the longevity of the diesel cars these days hopefully make it the longest lasting car I own. I have high hopes for the car as it is the first non-domestic car I have purchaced..

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