The sales people at Garnet Volkswagen will tell you anything to sell a car. An internet sales representative from Garnet informed me that a Passat TDI SEL would get 48 mpg. The federal government estimates that under real world driving conditions, the car maxes out at about 40 mpg on the highway.
When I complained about what was either a negligent misstatement of fact or an outright lie, a sales manager accused me of insulting her sales people. Then she justified the deceit by suggesting that some Passat TDI customers actually achieved 25 percent better mileage (48 mpg) than the Energy Department claimed. After I complained to VW corporate, the manager backpedaled furiously on the bogus gas mileage claim.
I posted a review describing my experience on the day it happened: Jan. 10 2012. One day later, the internet sales manager from Garnet Volkswagen contacted me and insisted they're not a sleazy, deceitful grind shop. He maintains that the Passat TDI SEL will get 47 mpg on the highway and that numerous customers on the internet have affirmed they're getting that kind of fuel economy.
That's an interesting assertion for at least a few reasons: First, the 2012 Passat TDI is a new car, and it's just starting to roll into dealerships. It's scarce on most lots; in fact, the Garnet internet sales manager informs me he doesn't have any in stock. So if there aren't that many cars available , how can all of these mysterious people on the internet (for the record, I can't find any) even obtain the car, much less achieve gas mileage that exceeds the Energy Department's upper estimate for real-life driving conditions by 25 percent?
Second, diesel engines take a while to break in. Some don't achieve maximum gas mileage until after the odometer reads 40,000 to 100,000. So it stands to reason that few people have owned the car long enough to break in the engine and achieve maximum highway fuel economy -- which would be about 40 mpg.
As a put-up-or-shut-up gesture, I offered to test any Passat TDI on the Garnet lot. I would drive it for 10 miles at 65 mph on a highway of the internet sales manager's choosing (with a sales rep in the car to keep me honest). As part of the deal, I offered to remove this post and issue an apology to Garnet if the tested Passat hit 43 mpg (4 mpg less than Garnet is claiming). If it didn't, the internet sales manager would agree to apologize publicly -- on the Garnet Volkswagen website -- for deceiving customers about fuel economy.
He declined, saying he had no Passat TDIs on his lot. He did not respond to an offer to let me test the car as soon as one or more comes in. I think it's a safe bet, however, that he wouldn't be taking me up on my offer even if his dealership were lousy with Passat TDIs.
Simply put, the Passat TDI -- although it boasts impressive fuel economy -- cannot hit Garnet's ridiculously inflated highway numbers in real-life driving conditions. Not now. Not ever. And while I can't read minds, I'm pretty confident that the Garnet Volkswagen Internet sales manager knows as much.
Anyone who values honest car sales practices should avoid Garnet Volkswagen. The Passat TDI is a great car, and people discriminating enough to buy one deserve more respect than the sales pirates at Garnet are willing to spare.