TDI vs. Gas Powered

I am in desperate need of a new car, and have my eye set on a 2009 Jetta Sportwagen. It seems like the perfect car for me, though I haven’t tempted myself by driving it until I get closer to buying time. The big question…do I go with the basic model, or the TDI. I love the fuel economy of the clean diesel, but have concerns about the price and availability of diesel throughout the country. Is it going to be hard to come by? Are there other car builders moving towards clean diesel? Would that increase the number of stations that carry diesel? I’m totally torn, and don’t know enough about the TDI to make a good informed decision. Help please!

Diesel is available pretty much everywhere. Availability would be my last concern on this issue. Price, now that’s a concern, because for reasons I don’t understand diesel that used to consistently cost less than gasoline now consistently costs more. I’m sure it’s a supply and demand thing. Still, you do get better fuel mileage out of diesel.

Next few times you buy gasoline, look around and see if there isn’t a diesel pump already at the gas station. It’s frequently only one, and maybe isolated from the other pumps, or maybe just one on one island, but they are there at many stations. A lot of trucks and cars use diesel all over the country. Farm trucks, pickups, big trucks, school buses, construction equipment and others have diesel versions.

Go to, you can map out diesel prices near you.

Why do you think diesel fuel is hard to come by? Many gas stations have diesel.

Just about every big truck you see traveling up and down the road runs on diesel. If diesel became scarce the country, and the economy would grind to a halt overnight. The price of diesel in the future is unknown, but so is the price of gasoline. Remember last summer?

Other manufacturers are working on clean diesel technology, and there will be more and more diesel vehicles available in the US as time goes on.

Thanks for the quick responses! I guess I’m just trying to come up with all the possible negatives. Since this will be the family car, will I run the risk of running out of gas with no station in site. Or if I’m living in a smaller town, will it be harder to come by? I’m sure I’m making a bigger deal out of the availability issue. I’m just trying to play devils advocate for myself. Why wouldn’t I buy a TDI, when it’s very close in price to the gas powered Sportwagen, and get’s considerably better gas mileage. Even with the increased diesel price, it’s a considerable increase in mileage. Just trying to figure out if there’s a benefit or disadvantage to one or the other.

You will need to be more aware of fuel locations, but that’s manageable. While sticker prices may be close, dealers may be asking a big premium for the TDI. Don’t give up all your fuel savings in the purchase price.

Starting tomorrow, take note of the availability of diesel pumps at every fuel station you pull into. Vary the places you buy gas and look around. Most of the stations I frequent have diesel, either as a separate hose attached to the same pump or at a separate pump.

There are MILLIONS of diesel powered vehicles in this country, and they don’t run out of fuel for lack of a fueling station.

well, the TDI is less expensive than the SEL, which offers the better highway fuel economy, but offers almost 10 second 0-60 time.
as for diesel availability, the only place you’d probably have to worry about that would be in Death Valley or “middle of nowhere desert last stop for 300 miles” type of towns

I’d go with the TDI if it weren’t a VW !

Take a look at Consumer Report recently where they rated dealers service … VW was next to last !

“middle of nowhere desert last stop for 300 miles”

And the TDI’s range in pretty great, so even when it gets ‘low’, it still has lots of miles left to go.

I drive a 2002 TDI. I am now about 85,000 miles on it, I bought it new. I have been very happy with it, as I have been with every car I have owned since 1965. I have not found a down side to it for me. This is my second diesel, my first was a 1976 Rabbit.

I have not had a problem finding fuel with either diesel and that includes a lot of driving in the middle of nowhere, although I did get some bad diesel at Yellowstone park back about 1980.

I get about 800 miles on a tank so even if fuel stops are far apart, I don’t have a problem.

I like mine and I have not had any real problems. Others may have had problems and others may not like them. I suggest you consider all comments.

BTW I don’t believe the 2009 diesels have a TDI engine as they have a more modern engine and TDI no longer is a “correct” name, but it is close.

TDI’s and the 2009 diesel engine VW’s are supported very well at so if you have any more specific questions or would like to talk to someone who has a 2009 you can stop by there.

One down side is overall the dealer network could be better, especially when it comes to diesel service. I happen to have a good one, but there is an alternative and even with a good dealer I have chosen to use the alternative. That web site I referenced will help you find a local person who can do most or any maintenance or repairs you might need.

Don’t expect to save much money, if any with a TDI VW diesel. I suggest that you compare gas and diesel oil change frequency and oil cost, fuel filter cost and change schedule, and also know that VW TDI diesels plug up their intake manifolds with carbon that has to occasionally be cleaned. VW diesel turbochargers do not last as long as the basic engine, figure on about 125,000 miles more or less for a turbocharger.

As was said, any truck stop has diesel fuel and most gas stations in farming areas of the US. Diesel has been higher than gas for the past few years but there is a station nearby that is charging 2.25 for diesel and about 2.45 for gas, a rare moment these days.

Also include the price premium for a diesel over a gas VW.

If your goal is other than saving money a diesel can be a good choice.

You really have been out of touch for a while !
Oil change frequency = same
Fuel cost - diesel is way down in price , now somewhere between regular and premium gas
Turbo life - nothing to substantiate that claim about shorter life
TDI’s coke up - yes ten years ago they did
Look at a TDI forum for up to date info .

Today’s diesels are an order of magnitude better than those of 25 years ago, they are quieter and don’t produce as many objectionable smells or black smoke. Usually they also offer superior fuel economy. With that said, there are a few downsides. In comparison to a gas engine, they are usually a bit slower, and noisier. Maintenence and repair costs are usually bit higher as well. The advantages of a diesel vehicle fluctuate with the costs of diesel fuel. As others have pointed out, diesel fuel right now is considerable more expensive than gasoline. In my area diesel costs 10-20 cents more a gallon than premium unleaded. So right now the TDI Sportwagen may actually be more expensive to keep around than the gas model, but fuel prices change almost on daily basis.

Personally I would go with the gas engine. I’ve found that while diesels do have good low end torque, they have a narrower operating RPM range, and don’t have a very pleasing engine note.

Traditionally, diesel engines have been more robust than gasoline engines. This doesn’t speak to all the accessories and the turbo, but the diesel engine itself usually lasts longer than a gas burning engine. If this is still the case with your TDI, and you plan to keep it a long time, it might be worth the extra money.

Price, now that’s a concern, because for reasons I don’t understand diesel that used to consistently cost less than gasoline now consistently costs more.

What part of the country do you live.

Couple of gas stations near me are selling Diesel the same price of hi-test.

0-60 time in a decent diesel is nearly everyday 0-60 time without sweating the motor or listening to a raucous. A gasoline vehicle it typically comes with a thrashing but no where the smoothness of decent diesel doing its everyday thing. Basically most people take their time 0-60 anyway and likely do it in 10 seconds anyway.

This new car is excellent. I found it fun to drive beyond economical. If I were to commute I think I would pick one up unless Subaru finally brings their new flat-4 diesel over to North America.

As was said, any truck stop has diesel fuel and most gas stations in farming areas of the US. Diesel has been higher than gas for the past few years but there is a station nearby that is charging 2.25 for diesel and about 2.45 for gas, a rare moment these days.

NO it hasn’t…Every time you start seeing these drastic swings in gas prices…Diesel swings more wildly. Then when gas prices stabilize…so does Diesel…and every time it does…Diesel is LOWER then gas…

I’m in Virginia, near Roanoke. I saw diesel for less than regular gasoline a few weeks ago for a few days, but that was only at one station and didn’t last long. I usually compare to regular gas, and in the past 5 to 10 years diesel has been consistently more expensive, though not by a lot.

I guess the VW requires premium gasoline, so that would wipe out the price advantage.

Thanks for all the help. This has given me stuff to think about. I’m in Birmingham, AL right now, but we may be relocating to East TN. I keep flipping back and forth on what to do. I’m wondering if it will just be overall easier to go with gas, but I’m continuing to weigh all the options.