By on July 8, 2015


Volkswagen’s Golf TDI traveled more than 8,200 miles around the lower 48 states on less than $300 of diesel in 16 days, the automaker said today.

The 16-day trip around the U.S. set a narrowly-defined world record for “lowest fuel consumption — 48 U.S. contiguous States non-hybrid car” by averaging 81.17 mpg in the Golf TDI. The car was driven by automotive journalist Wayne Gerdes and electronics engineer Bob Winger.

Quick math: If the duo averaged 15 hours of driving per day, the pair managed an average speed of 34.306 mph throughout the entire journey.

The record attempt improved on the 2013 mark set by a Volkswagen Passat TDI, also driven by Gerdes, which managed 77.99 mpg in a round-trip run of the U.S.


“Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel engines are just amazing,” Wayne Gerdes said in a statement. “I don’t think people realize the potential mileage you can get from them. In our experience, it is possible to get truly impressive mileage results by using just a few simple fuel-saving techniques.”

Although the latest record run set the mark for a run around the U.S., it still fell short of a 2013 mpg record set by an Australian couple driving from Texas to Virginia. John and Helen Taylor managed 84.1 mpg in their 1,626-mile drive in a Volkswagen Passat TDI.

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27 Comments on “Golf TDI Makes Lap of US on $300 of Diesel...”

  • avatar

    Almost as good as Hugh Downs getting 20 mpg in a Ford LTD during the 73 fuel crisis going from Phoenix to LA “never exceeding 55 miles per hour”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The magic of hypermiling.

  • avatar

    So what exactly where the “…few simple fuel-saving techniques” ?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I assume they’re in this video (I didn’t watch it):

    • 0 avatar

      yeah, I want to know what they were, too.

      I suspect I could get in the mid-high 50s out of my ’08 Civic 5MT just by driving around 35-50 on roads with few intersections and stops. Hypermiling (accelerating, then coasting) would probably add another 8-10.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      Here’s a list of 27 tips compiled by the Aussie couple than ran Texas to Virginia:

      They include helpful tips such as sedate your children first, drive in the middle of the night, never run the A/C, don’t drive with a spouse — ever. (Some of those are made up.)

    • 0 avatar

      An article by Wayne himself.

      What I am guessing they used: Pulse & glide – accelerate to a given (still very slow) speed using the optimal engine load (as determined by a special OBD2 tool) and highest gear possible, then turn the ignition off and put the car in neutral until the minimum speed target is reached, then repeat.

      A real pain in the ass in a normal car, less of a pain in the ass in a hybrid because most of it’s automatic but not something I could stand to do for 15 hours straight.

      The other tips on the page could be useful for regular commuting, though.

  • avatar

    I accused in my household of being an ‘unhypermiler’ – I can take my wife’s Tiguan that she gets 24 mpg in mixed and take that to around 19 mpg. I got 16.8 mpg in 4 days of driving my daughter’s 2014 Kia Sportage…Yet, I get about 15 mpg around town with my 2014 RAM 1500 V8…

    This is really impressive…I’ve thought about a new Mark VII TDI Golf as the daily driver and road trip car…Everyone I know gets real world 50+ mpg on their highway road trips with 2.0 TDI VWs.

  • avatar

    8200 miles / 34.306 MPH = 239 hours
    239 hours / 16 days = 14.9 hours/day

    bleah … I’d die of boredom. Better them than me.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A Tesla Model S gets 86 MPGe, and its power is free via Superchargers.

    • 0 avatar

      A Corvette is also faster than GTI.

    • 0 avatar

      -Tesla price is 3x+
      -Not possible to drive across 48 states using superchargers.
      -Power is not free; somebody is paying for it.

      Other than that, spot on.

      • 0 avatar

        There may not be SuperChargers in every state, but a Tesla can charge from chademo stations or campgrounds with NEMA 14-50 240 volt outlets. So, you could do 48 states in a Tesla, although it won’t be free everywhere.

        The chademo network is growing, so while 48 states for a Leaf would be tough, the range you can travel in one is growing.

  • avatar

    Narrowly defined? I think getting 81.2 mpg over more than 8,200 miles is easily as impressive as getting 84.1 mpg over 1,626 miles.

    To get from Houston, TX to Sterling, VA, where the Taylors drove, you don’t have to go over any mountain ranges. There is no way to visit all 48 contiguous states without driving through many mountain ranges.

    Moreover, planning a route from point 1 to point 2 to maximize your mpg is not that tough…but when you have to go from point 1 to point 48 and every point in between, getting great mpg is WAY more difficult…you basically have a lot fewer choices of route on any given stretch, and if even your best choices are not conducive to getting great mpg, you are SOL.

    I researched these drives a bit, and they are basically driving the speed limit everywhere and obeying traffic laws…nobody is creeping down the interstate at 40 mph or driving six feet behind an 18-wheeler. In fact, one of the major techniques is driving far enough behind other cars in urban/suburban settings to let the other cars trigger the sensor loops at intersections, and on limited access roads to keep far enough back from cars speeding up and slowing down to be able to keep a set speed, both techniques to avoid unnecessary braking…so there is no drafting of any kind, anywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      I stumbled onto the light trick. You leave enough room and basically you never have to touch your brakes. It helps that I drive a brick on wheels.

  • avatar

    That’s 2.90 l/100 km.

    And I don’t believe it.

  • avatar

    Last month I hypermiled 4,503 km from Vancouver to Toronto and used 117.8 liters in my Honda Insight1. That’s 2.61 l/100 km or 107.6 MPIG in british currency.

  • avatar

    Those poor fools, putting in all that effort driving a vehicle with an obsolete transmission. Now, the next guy can just use a modern and efficient DSG to easily beat them.

  • avatar

    How they do that I have no idea. I get 39 mpg whether I drive like Grandma or The Bandit.

    Of course, my DPF recently cracked, so who knows how it will go now. Better, VW decided that a DPF cracking at 83k, just north of 80k Fed emissions warranty, is my problem.

    Oh well.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Publicity stunt. Who cares what mileage you can get by driving in a completely impractical manner? Why not just helicopter the car to the top of a mountain and coast down for 10 miles and report that mileage? It’s equally practical to what these clowns did.

  • avatar

    Did they run the return trip and reported the average consumption, that’s the generally-accepted testing standard, right?

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