Model: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SE
Type: Midsize sedan
Mileage: 31 mpg/city and 43 mpg/highway
Starting price: $25,995
How it fulfills our resolution: With comfort, room and a thrifty clean diesel engine, it's an ideal long-distance companion.
The proper cross-country car has to be roomy and comfortable, offer a smooth ride and crisp handling, and powerful enough to allow you to merge onto freeways safely. And, of course, it should get good fuel mileage. One model that fits all those requirements: The 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel. TDI stands for turbo-direct injection, meaning the engine is turbocharged and sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber at very high pressures.
The Passat TDI SE is a handsome car with European-style handling, meaning the ride is firm but never punishing, with just the right amount of road feel. Even the rear seats are roomy, and there's 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space. The 2-liter, 140-horsepower diesel means you can take long trips to new places with fewer fuel stops. VW says the TDI diesel has a range of 795 miles. That's almost the distance from New York to Milwaukee.