58 % of hybrid drivers not happy with their fuel economy

Dennis P Roth

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The Hybrid Hoax

They're not as fuel-efficient as you think.
by Richard Burr
01/20/2006 12:00:00 AM


Detroit
WHEN TREASURY SECRETARY John Snow announced guidelines for a new tax cut for the rich here last week, liberals did not denounce him. That's because the proposed tax breaks were for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, the favorite ride of environmentalists this side of bicycles. But the dirty secret about hybrids is that, even as the government continues to fuel their growth with tax subsidies, they don't deliver the gas savings they promise.
Most cars and trucks don't achieve the gas mileage they advertise, according to Consumer Reports. But hybrids do a far worse job than conventional vehicles in meeting their Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings, especially in city driving.
Hybrids, which typically claim to get 32 to 60 miles per gallon, ended up delivering an average of 19 miles per gallon less than their EPA ratings under real-world driving conditions (which reflect more stop-and-go traffic and Americans' penchant for heavy accelerating) according to a Consumer Reports investigation in October 2005.
For example, a 2004 Toyota Prius got 35 miles per gallon in city driving, off 42 percent from its EPA rating of 60 mpg. The 2003 Honda Civic averaged 26 mpg, off 46 percent from its advertised 48 mpg. And the Ford Escape small sport utility vehicle managed 22 mpg, falling 33 percent short of its 33 mpg rating.
"City traffic is supposed to be the hybrids' strong suit, but their shortfall amounted to a 40 percent deficit on average," Consumer Reports said.

The hybrid failed another real world test in 2004 when a USA
Today
reporter compared a Toyota Prius hybrid with a Volkswagen Jetta diesel, driving both between his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Washington, D.C. area. Both should have made the 500-mile trip on one tank of gas.
"Jetta lived up to its one-tank billing," reporter David Kiley wrote. "Prius did not."
Kiley had to stop to refill the Prius, which ended up averaging 38 miles per gallon, compared with 44 miles per gallon for the Jetta (which met its fuel economy rating). And this occurred during spring weather without the extra drain on a hybrid battery caused by winter weather--which would have favored the diesel Jetta even more.
Customers complain about the failure to meet fuel savings expectations. There are web sites such as hybridbuzz.com and chat rooms of hybrid fanatics who bemoan their lackluster fuel economy. About 58 percent of hybrid drivers say they aren't happy with their fuel economy (compared with 27 percent of conventional vehicle drivers), according to CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Oregon.
It's gotten to the point where Ford is giving hybrid owners special lessons on how to improve fuel economy, according to USA Today. They teach drivers how to brake sooner, which helps recharge the battery. But they also drill owners with the same tips that help conventional vehicle owners improve gas mileage: Accelerate slowly. Inflate your tires. Plan your errands better. And this eye-opener: Don't set the air conditioner on maximum. "That prevents the electric motor from engaging," USA Today says.

Hybrids are also failing to pay for themselves in gas savings. A study by the car-buying website Edmunds.com calculates gasoline would have to cost $5.60 a gallon over five years for a Ford Escape hybrid to break even with the costs of driving a non-hybrid vehicle. The break-even number was $9.60 a gallon for a Honda Civic hybrid.


Hybrid automakers and their supporters have their defenses. They quibble with how some studies are done. They point out that even with their fuel economy shortcomings, hybrids achieve the best gas mileage in three of five vehicle categories rated by Consumer Reports. Hybrids are still far lower-polluting than diesels. Their sales are growing fast, even though they make up a small 1 percent of America's annual sales of 17 million vehicles. Then there's the ultimate defense: They are just like conventional cars because drivers buy them for many reasons other than fuel savings and cost. There's the "prestige of owning such a vehicle," says Dave Hermance, an executive engineer for environmental engineering at Toyota, the leading seller of hybrids. After all, many vehicle purchases are emotional decisions, he says.

So, Hybrids have become the environmental equivalent of driving an Escalade or Mustang. Who cares if they deliver on their promises as long as they make a social statement?
Taxpayers should. The federal government subsidizes hybrid fashion statements with tax breaks that benefit the rich. The average household income of a Civic hybrid owner ranges between $65,000 to $85,000 a year; it's more than $100,000 for the owner of an Accord. The median income of a Toyota Prius owner is $92,000; for a Highlander SUV owner $121,000; and for a luxury Lexus SUV owner it's over $200,000.
This year the government will offer tax credits for hybrid purchases ranging up to $3,400, with owners getting a dollar-for-dollar benefit on their tax forms. This beats last
year's $2,000 tax deduction, which amounted up to a $700 benefit, depending on the driver's tax bracket.

Just a few years ago, liberals criticized the Bush administration for allowing professionals to get tax breaks on large SUVs if they were purchased for business purposes. But evidently it's okay to subsidize under-performing hybrids.
Perhaps with more technological advances, hybrids will some day deliver on their fuel economy promise and truly be worth the extra cost. But the tax credits have become just one more welfare program for the wealthy. Let the fast-growing hybrids show that they can pay for themselves.

After all, when Snoop Dogg makes a fashion statement by buying a Chrysler 300 C with a Hemi engine, taxpayers aren't footing part of the bill.
Richard Burr is associate editor of the Detroit News editorial page.

Article clipped from : http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/598bgjbv.asp
 
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whitedog

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Most cars and trucks don't achieve the gas mileage they advertise, according to Consumer Reports.[/QUOTE]

And we all know how reliable CR is about cars and fuel mileage.

There's the "prestige of owning such a vehicle,"
And

So, Hybrids have become the environmental equivalent of driving an Escalade or Mustang. Who cares if they deliver on their promises as long as they make a social statement?
The local paper here just did an article on loco hybrid owners and one gal quoted this same mantra. Many people aren't driveing the car for any other reason than to make a statement. Of course they don't understand that the statement is "I'm too stoopid to think for myself".
 

fase2000TDI

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whitedog said:
Most cars and trucks don't achieve the gas mileage they advertise, according to Consumer Reports.[/QUOTE]

And we all know how reliable CR is about cars and fuel mileage.



And



The local paper here just did an article on loco hybrid owners and one gal quoted this same mantra. Many people aren't driveing the car for any other reason than to make a statement. Of course they don't understand that the statement is "I'm too stoopid to think for myself".
bleeeee hehehehhe hahaha

oh man, this is comedy gold.
 

lupin..the..3rd

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And despite reports like these, hybrids are still selling like hotcakes. Goes to show that your average person listens to marketing fluff more than hard numbers.
 

Beeble

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The usual BS from weeklystandard. But there's a silver lining to their predictable dark cloud.

The government funds a lot of stuff that doesn't "make sense economically", from solar power research to crop subsidies. There are numerous reasons behind these projects, but they usually boil down to long-term thinking.

You want to make sure your country will have enough farmers to supply food in case of global upheaval? They you'd better make sure they can stay in business when there's stiff competition from imports.

You want to accelerate research and development into fuel-efficient vehicles? Then you subsidize purchase of new or developing technologies. Will they turn out to be the panacaea? Who knows? But we won't find out until we get a bunch of them on the road.

One of the undisputed roles of the federal government is to undertake things that states and cities can't reasonably do on their own. Funding research and promoting new solutions to widespread problems are obviously among those things.

It would be really nice if they would give a subsidy for buying clean diesels, too. Since the manufacturers aren't smart enough to promote diesels as a high-mileage alternative to gasoline or hybrid vehicles, we should be writing our representatives, demanding that diesel gets a break, too. Who have you bugged about this recently?
 

GoFaster

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I was under the impression that there IS a tax break for "clean diesels" in the USA. The only problem is that the new emission standards are set so unrealistically stringent and they've dragged their feet on ULSD so many times that there won't be any clean-diesel vehicles available for sale, at least not right away.
 

unixb0y

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It's up on my dub blog


Hybrids, which typically claim to get 32 to 60 miles per gallon, ended up delivering an average of 19 miles per gallon less than their EPA ratings under real-world driving conditions (which reflect more stop-and-go traffic and Americans' penchant for heavy accelerating) according to a Consumer Reports investigation in October 2005.

For example, a 2004 Toyota Prius got 35 miles per gallon in city driving, off 42 percent from its EPA rating of 60 mpg. The 2003 Honda Civic averaged 26 mpg, off 46 percent from its advertised 48 mpg. And the Ford Escape small sport utility vehicle managed 22 mpg, falling 33 percent short of its 33 mpg rating.
 

DrStink

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Dennis P Roth said:
WHEN TREASURY SECRETARY John Snow announced guidelines for a new tax cut for the rich here last week, liberals did not denounce him. That's because the proposed tax breaks were for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, the favorite ride of environmentalists this side of bicycles. But the dirty secret about hybrids is that, even as the government continues to fuel their growth with tax subsidies, they don't deliver the gas savings they promise.

So, Hybrids have become the environmental equivalent of driving an Escalade or Mustang. Who cares if they deliver on their promises as long as they make a social statement?


Does the author's logic seem a little questionable to anybody else?

Let's assume for a moment that in the real world hybrids get 40% less than EPA while a traditional gasoline engine only gets 20% less than EPA. (This may not be a good assumption given median real world hybrid mileage, but still, let us assume it is correct for the discussion here)

So in his mind, a Civic Hybrid that gets 30 mpg (50 EPA * .60) is no better than a Mustang that gets 19 mpg (23.5 EPA * .80)?

Likewise, an Escape hybrid that gets 20 mpg (33.5 EPA * .6) is no better than a Escalade that gets 13 mpg (16 EPA *.8)?

He must do math differently that I do, because even if we assume *twice* the hit on hybrids (40% vs 20%), in each example above, the hybrids are *still* 50% more efficient.

For completeness, it should be pointed out that yes, if we assume the 40%/20% real world penalty is accurate, then yes, the two "performance" hybrids on the market, the Accord and the RX400h, are no better than the V6 Mustang. But these two hybrids were designed and marketed for performance, not efficiency from day one - the Accord Hybrid does 0-60 in 7.5s compared to 6.9s for the V6 Mustang.

This does raise an important illustration on how regulations should focus on the end goal rather than the means to that goal. Congress and state governments screwed up when they endorsed one technology over another if the end goal was efficiency. It is assinine that performance hybrids like the Accord and the RX400h get special tax credits when they use hybrid technology for hauling ass rather than sipping gas, especially since our frugal TDIs don't. Of course, if the goal was clean air, then that's a different ballgame altogether.

I believe this problem is fixed (sort of) in the new federal tax credit system. To qualify, a vehicle needs to achieve "a minimum 25% increase in city fuel economy compared to a similar 2002 vehicle (inertia weight class)" and the credit increases by $400 for every 25% improvement.

Here are the baseline 2002 weights:
Vehicle inertia weight class:
2002 model fuel economy (in city):
1500 or 1750 lbs
45.2 mpg
2000 lbs
39.6 mpg
2250 lbs
35.2 mpg
2500 lbs
31.7 mpg
2750 lbs
28.8 mpg
3000 lbs
26.4 mpg
3500 lbs
22.6 mpg
4000 lbs
19.8 mpg
4500 lbs
17.6 mpg
5000 lbs
15.9 mpg
5500 lbs
14.4 mpg
6000 lbs
13.2 mpg
6500 lbs
12.2 mpg
Can anybody say for sure that this also applies to hybrids and not just diesels? If so, then Accord and the RX400h wouldn't even get the tax credit the Weekly Standard guy is complaining about so vociferously.
 

Jetta_Pilot

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Dennis P Roth said:
whitedog said:
And people who drive diesels aren't trying to make a statement? ;)

Yeah the statement is what comes out of my wallet in real life.
In my automatic I managed to get 1011 km or about 600+ miles from a tank of Diesel before I added my 2 gal reserve so I would not run dry. This was on January 5th.
And I was doing well over 70mph as well as dropping down into passing gear fairly frequently.
 
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NFSTDI

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I drove a Prius for a month. I found that it was not difficult to average 45 MPG although you must keep your freeway speed below eighty. I found that if I ran it at about 65-70 on cruise control I could average about 45 MPG out of a tank full of gas. Around town my average was extremely dependant on how I drove. If I was fairly relaxed with throttle and breaking I could easily get it to average in the forties. However if I got a little aggressive it dropped quickly. It's pretty tough to make it dip below 35 mpg although I imagine it could be done. Although I think they are very cool cars I'm sticking with my TDI.
 

cptmox

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My daily commute is 25+ miles each way, bumper-to-bumper, stop and go, heavy city traffic on Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway. When driving in this environment, it is common to drive under 25 mph for the majority of my trip. Traffic basically keeps moving, with some short stops due to the accordion effect of traffic. I try to counteract the dreaded accordion by maintaining a good steady speed while letting the distance between myself and the car in front of me fluctuate. The problem with my tactic, is that it is too tempting for folks in adjoining lanes to not jump into my lane; like moths to a bug zapper, they can't help themselves. This also infuriates the guy behind me, even though he is averaging the same speed as everyone else.

Truckers realize this driving tactic is best, but they do it to keep from braking and shifting too much. I average pretty decent mileage driving this way, but it takes much patience. My last tank was a 48.3mpg effort on B11.

I always thought a hybrid would excel in this environment big time. Imagine being able to slowly move along at 15-20 mph with occasional coasting and braking to keep a good charge. A hybrid like the Prius could go a good distance this way with the gas engine off.

The problem is, most people don't have the patience to drive this way. They can't stand the idea of somebody from another lane getting in front of them, so they dart ahead to fill any gap in front of them. This would keep the gas engine running.

I think I could get the EPA numbers in a Prius, but obviously 90% of Americans cannot.
 

McBrew

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I have nothing against hybrids. I think they are pretty cool. The only think I worry about is a tax credit that applies to any vehicle that is a hybrid, regardless of the fuel economy or environmental friendliness.

For instance, a Ford Expedition gets 17 MPG highway (according to EPA). If Ford decides to make a hybrid Expedition, and it gets 18 MPG highway, I don't think that deserves a tax credit.

Some of the prototype hybrid cars seem to use the electric system to improve performance and leave the fuel economy roughly the same. I don't think that deserves tax credits, either.

Maybe if there was a tax credit based on fuel economy alone... or even on emissions. Of course, they would focus on NOx emissions here in the US and we (TDIers) would be screwed.
 

DrStink

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McBrew said:
I have nothing against hybrids. I think they are pretty cool. The only think I worry about is a tax credit that applies to any vehicle that is a hybrid, regardless of the fuel economy or environmental friendliness.

For instance, a Ford Expedition gets 17 MPG highway (according to EPA). If Ford decides to make a hybrid Expedition, and it gets 18 MPG highway, I don't think that deserves a tax credit.
McBrew. I agree completely.

As I posted above, I'm not certain, but I'm under the belief that the new 2006 tax credits for both diesels and hybrids are indexed to the average MY02 mileage for each weight class, and need to show a 25% improvement to get a credit.

If this is the case, the Weekly Standard guy is just tilting at windmills.
 

cevans

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I'm really surprised at how anti-hybrid we are. For a group that defends a "niche" product, we really don't listen to other niche supporters. I personally know 3 people with hybrids, a old prius, a new prius and a 400h. Both pruis' get mid 40s, but I don't know how the 400h does.

In any event, the new pruis is a great vehicle that, like all vehicles, performs better in certain environments and worse in others. Our diesels do pretty well everywhere, but not too great in traffic, and fantastic on open road. My jetta seems to do pretty average regardless of traffic, but the Liberty CRD can drop to below 20mpg in traffic. Out on the open road, I can get 28-29 (haven't broke 30 on an entire tank yet, its so close!) consistently. The Escape hybrid, or highlander or 400h, would be reversed. The tests that determine fuel economy are horribly flawed, but so called "road test reviews" are equally flawed. We need to understand the function of these cars, where they perform well and where they don't. It isn't the fault of the hybrid system, but rather the ratings and incorrect expectations.

(not saying the consumer needs to be 400% educated on what is better and what is not, the manufacturers should make it clear where the hybrid works and where it does not...alright, that's never going to happen)

cevans
 

Bob_Fout

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True! OK, what does that have to do with anything?

The success or failure of gas/elec hybrids could pave the way for diesel/elec hybrids. The best of both worlds! Good economy in city and highway.
 

2004PassatTDI

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All I know is that my 2004 Passat TDI got 21% higher milage (highway) than VW estimated mileage (38 MPG) claimed it would get. I'm very happy with the 46+ MPG I got. I never have to replace a massive amount of batteries in the car.......:) . BTW, I enjoy blasting by Hybrids at 100+ MPH....
 

Bob_Fout

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2004PassatTDI said:
All I know is that my 2004 Passat TDI got 21% higher milage (highway) than VW estimated mileage (38 MPG) claimed it would get. I'm very happy with the 46+ MPG I got. I never have to replace a massive amount of batteries in the car.......:) . BTW, I enjoy blasting by Hybrids at 100+ MPH....
Does VW make the claims, or does the EPA?
 

ICNTDRV

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Hehe, I used Honda's mileage calculator to calculate the difference in the amount I will pay over the next 10 years comparing my cars advertized 50mpg (which it achieves) to the Civic's 51mpg (to which it doesn't come close) and the savings, under ideal circumstances favoring the Civic, were only $36. $36 over a period of TEN YEARS! That doesn't even account for my fuel savings once I start making my own biodiesel.

I think I'll keep my Passat.
 

Kyle Pearce

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2004PassatTDI said:
All I know is that my 2004 Passat TDI got 21% higher milage (highway) than VW estimated mileage (38 MPG) claimed it would get. I'm very happy with the 46+ MPG I got. I never have to replace a massive amount of batteries in the car.......:) . BTW, I enjoy blasting by Hybrids at 100+ MPH....
Just out of curiosity, how bad is a TDI pollution wise?? I just bought one Thursday and picked it up today and I already love it.

It'll take a while for me to learn the ins and outs, but I'm enjoying everything so far...

Another question:
What is the best RPM to be crusing at?? (Not necessarily on the highway, but on a city road as well, etc?). My old jeep TJ was good at about 1200-1300... Can't really tell by the sound what rpm is good for crusing with this puppy... any help would be great!

Thanks
Kyle
 

dzlvdub

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Kyle-- Is your TDI new or used? What model? For general break-in info, do a search of that term with close attention to the TDI 101 section. You may also look up postings by "drivbiwire" . I think that's his screen name. Excellent guidance about break-in for new TDIs as well as good guidance for everyday use to get the most out of your TDI. Drive 'em right and care for 'em right...they'll go a LONG way!
 

bhtooefr

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You do NOT want to be cruising below (IIRC) 2000 RPMs, because below that point, you could grenade the turbo compressor wheel if you demand hard acceleration of the car.

Of course, your goal is to cruise at 2000 RPMs, no matter what. If that means buying a .681 5th gear, then do that. If that means importing a Euro 6-speed tranny, do that ;)
 

wiltjk

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Tried a Hybrid for 10 days

Over Christmas, I rented a Toyota Prius Hybrid for 10 days.

My curiosity stemmed from owning a Wetterauer chipped Bio-Diesel Bug since before Bio-Diesel was readily available in my area and considered cool.

Below are my comparisons:
  • Mileage: Prius was 40 mpg with heavy foot; Bug is 45 mpg with heavy foot
  • Acceleration: Prius was anemic; Bug is a rocket (0-60 in 7 seconds)
  • Handling: Prius was capable but unimpressive; Bug is superb
  • Driving Range: Prius is almost 400 miles; Bug is up to 700 miles (with vented tank).
  • Social Acceptance: Prius was untouchable - free access to car pool lanes, invisible to police discipline, celebrity status; Bug = tickets and is assumed dirty (even with Bio!)

Overall, the Prius was not all that bad, but definitely not for those inclined to drive from a performance perspective. In my opinion, the advantages of Bio outweigh all existing alternatives but that is not how we Americans think, so it will continue to be an underdog solution.

I have a question, what ever happened to ULSD by 2006?
 

Beeble

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bhtooefr said:
Of course, your goal is to cruise at 2000 RPMs, no matter what. If that means buying a .681 5th gear, then do that. If that means importing a Euro 6-speed tranny, do that
How practical are those solutions? It's out of the question for me right now, since my NB is still under warranty. But it always chaps me that VW made the gearing so close, and used such a low 5th-gear ratio. Who drives at 100kpm on the highway, for crying out loud? I wonder what it costs to get a 6-speed tranny, or have the higher-ratio 5th gear installed. (I don't do that kind of thing myself anymore.)

Anyway, I guess that puts me in the same class as the Prius owners in the poll: I love my car, but I think my fuel mileage should (and could) be even better.
 

bhtooefr

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Note that there was a 200 pound sterling DRW tranny in the FS section.

Even with shipping from the UK, that'd be VERY cheap.

(DRW = 6 speed for PD130/150)
 

nh mike

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Dennis P Roth said:
They're not as fuel-efficient as you think.
by Richard Burr
01/20/2006 12:00:00 AM


Detroit
WHEN TREASURY SECRETARY John Snow announced guidelines for a new tax cut for the rich here last week, liberals did not denounce him. That's because the proposed tax breaks were for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, the favorite ride of environmentalists this side of bicycles. But the dirty secret about hybrids is that, even as the government continues to fuel their growth with tax subsidies, they don't deliver the gas savings they promise.
Most cars and trucks don't achieve the gas mileage they advertise, according to Consumer Reports. But hybrids do a far worse job than conventional vehicles in meeting their Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings, especially in city driving.
Hybrids, which typically claim to get 32 to 60 miles per gallon, ended up delivering an average of 19 miles per gallon less than their EPA ratings under real-world driving conditions (which reflect more stop-and-go traffic and Americans' penchant for heavy accelerating) according to a Consumer Reports investigation in October 2005.
For example, a 2004 Toyota Prius got 35 miles per gallon in city driving, off 42 percent from its EPA rating of 60 mpg. The 2003 Honda Civic averaged 26 mpg, off 46 percent from its advertised 48 mpg. And the Ford Escape small sport utility vehicle managed 22 mpg, falling 33 percent short of its 33 mpg rating.​

While I do think that hybrids don't get the full mileage achieved, I'll trust COnsumer Reports on fuel efficiency data when hell freezes over. Consumer Reports' mpg claims are absurd. They claim something like 25 mpg average for the new Passat TDIs if I remember correctly, and something like 32 mpg for the A4 Jetta/Beetle/Golf TDIs. ABsurd. I can't imagine what their drivers have to do to get such bad mileage.

 
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