It's starting. After years of steadily nudging up engine volumes, inevitably with decreasing fuel efficiency, Volkswagen has bucked the trend with the introduction of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.0L TDI. 31 / 43 mpg (cty/hwy), 140HP, more than enough power to navigate the nation's highways.
Despite grumbling about the CAFE2025 standards, because those are more than indulgent in the small trucks & SUV sector, apparently Volkswagen has moved to comply anyway, by starting to offer more fuel-efficient models in the US. It's the easy way. It's about time. And they didn't even go all the way.
The Passat Bluemotion 2.0L TDI still gets higher mileage, 48mpg in real-life use. This is the one that in Germany is called the "BlueTDI". It comes with a few extra fuel-saving technologies, such as a Start-Stop function that turns off the engine instead of allowing you to idle.
Moving another step ahead, but in European markets only, VW has introduced the "New Bluemotion Passat". This one comes with a 1.6L TDI engine. Its 105HP is plenty of power for the flat terrain of northern Germany (as well as for large swaths of the US, such as the midwestern plains). While its claimed mileage of 4.1L/100km (57mpg) is overstated, it will do better than the 2.0L version's 48mpg.
Best of all, the price on the New Bluemotion 1.6L TDI is €3,000 lower than that of the 2.0L BlueTDI, for equal trim. What's not to love? It will come to the US - eventually: a few years from now, when the CAFE2025 fuel efficiency requirements really start to squeeze.