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World record 1,626 miles on one tank of diesel


May 9, 2012

A Loudoun County, Virginia Sheriff’s Deputy verifies the car’s mileage before removing the fuel tank seal

A Loudoun County, Virginia Sheriff’s Deputy verifies the car’s mileage before removing the fuel tank seal

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Apparently not happy with collecting over 40 world driving fuel economy records, the husband and wife team of John and Helen Taylor – also known as “the world’s most fuel efficient couple” – have been back on the road to claim the world record for the longest distance traveled on a single tank of fuel. The record 1,626.1 mile (2,616.95 km) journey was achieved in a stock 2012 Volkswagen Passat powered by a 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel inline four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission.

The Taylors’ three-day trip started from Houston, Texas, on May 3, and took them through nine states before the tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel ran dry in Sterling, Virginia, on May 5. Over the three-day journey, they averaged 84.1 miles per gallon (2.79 L/100 km), and outdid the previous record of 1,526.6 miles (2,456.82 km) on a single tank of diesel achieved by a VW Passat 1.6 BlueMotion diesel in Europe.

In an effort to conduct the world record attempt under real world driving conditions, the couple packed 120 lbs (54.4 kg) of luggage and drove during daylight hours. They also took turns driving and traveled a maximum of 14 hours per day.

The Passat’s speedometer and odometer were calibrated by a state certified testing station in Houston, with law enforcement officers on hand to validate mileage, fuel fill-up, and gas tank sealing before the Taylor’s set out. Upon reaching Sterling, Virginia Sheriff’s Deputy verified the car’s mileage before removing the fuel tank seal.

A list of John and Helen’s latest driving records, along with tips to maximize fuel economy, can be seen on their Eco2Driving website.

Source: Volkswagen

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

It's a sure bet that self-driving cars will utilize hypermiling techniques even better than humans can, since not only will Google's flavor will be mapping the roads in 3D, but any vehicle controlled by a computer can adjust gear ratios and RPMs exactly to get the desired performance. Getting cars with 100MPG could be as simple as the right software, data-collection, and control systems, though better engineering can't hurt.

Joel Detrow

Do John and Helen give "efficient driving" lessons? It's something we all need...


While note worthy my criticism is they must of only been driving 35 or 40 mph? Hardly real world driving on an American freeway or highway? My time is a little more valuable to me and if I took 3 whole days to drive 1600 miles I've got WAY to much time on my hands! That being said, good job VW for making an out of the box car that can do this. :-)


Ford? Chevy? Dodge? Care to comment...???


They drove 1626 miles in a VW and not one break down. That's what is truly amazing.


And the car wasn't modified in any way? I don't understand, was this a normal standard car? What was there secret. Is this couple from some modding community?

Dawar Saify

Sorry, but this reminds me of people who claim to have bought $6 zillion worth of food at the supermarket, using coupons, for only $2.31.....what's the REAL secret behind the mileage here??

Bob Andrews

I read all their tips – there is no way they would ever account for that kind of fuel efficiency... What they are describing is exactly how I drive already – with a KIA Spectra... I live and drive in Los Angeles, where all people are crazy or insane and where I am the only person driving in accordance with their tips – since years back and not from any lectures or advise from any source...it's all common sense... And it won't account for the fuel efficiency they report...there is something missing here... They describe....the way I drive! ...in a "stock Volkswagen" ...which they additionally burdened down...?? – ...no way...this is not believable....


My brother and I drove from Denver CO to Virgina Beach a 1,773 mile trip in about 25 hours on the road. So obviously we averaged about 71 mph.

Assuming 2 and a half days travel, 14 hours a day is 35 hours 1626 mile and a little calculation gives an average speed just under 46.5 mph. Not what I would call real world driving conditions.


silly why not go twice as slow and get 120 or 150 mpg? wle


If you drive like the crowd, you get crowd mileage.

If you THINK about driving for economy, you get economy.

We get consistent 40 mpg real world with an Echo, and a side effect is that tires and brakes last many times longer.

Ormond Otvos

They are using a VW not available in USA. They are banned by the EPA ! ! ! As for the average speed via time spent traveling you need to travel many of your miles in access of 70 mph up to 90 mph if want to attain a 60 mph average. I know because some of my very highest speed trips (400+ miles) over the last 40 years have barely exceeded a 60 mph average. This result is attained by reaching speeds of 90 mph when possible but not driving dangerously.

Bill Baerg

re; Ormond Otvos

Aside from the minor problem of traffic tie ups caused by people driving slower than traffic the problem is the "accidents" caused by them.


One of the words here is "AVERAGE" speed....... vs' linear speed, from linear thinking.

Taking into account traffic, congestion, lights, and all the other things...., vs. the "Oh it's a 1000Km divided by 100Kmh - that makes the trip 10 hours....."

I wasn't there, didn't see it, did not see the conditions, the traffic etc....

BUT - I do know that I get really high amounts of distance for very low amounts of fuel consumed.

Another friend of mine, said of a driver he employs, "I might spend an average of $500 on fuel a week, driving my 5 ton truck, and I drive reasonably carefully. The guy who I employ, just lead foots it every where and he uses about $800 worth of fuel a week. As far as I am concerned he just is pissing fuel and money out the exhaust pipe."

Most of this has to do with changing into "Enjoying the trip and the people and the scenery", instead of obsessing over, "Oh I gotta rush, gotta rush, gotta rush and doing nothing except watching the needle on the speedo."

Mr Stiffy

Their vehicle does not appear to have a very low Cd. High mpg with real world driving may be achieved with aerodynamics, especially if the Cd can be brought down to 0.20. I slightly modified my 2003 Echo (front air divider, holes drilled in the back bumper, fuel fins, back tire covers) and get 50 mpg at speeds at about 55 mph. 65% of all power from car engines is normally used to overcome air resistance, depending on the speed.

Adrian Akau

Having driven semi-trucks over a million miles, I know I can get better mileage with my foot than ANY cruise control yet built. I bet they did just what they claim, and not by driving 35 miles per hour, but not doing 70 plus either. Having said they drove day, not night, there may be temps that help mileage as well instead of marathon driving thru the night. Not all can accomplish this mileage, but good for them, just making people think there are better ways to drive.

James Farmer

Sealed gas cap, eh? Maybe I'll go out and set the record to 12,000 miles (four cross USA trips) on such a setup. And I'll use my 5.3L 4x4 gas Chevy pickup with a sealed gas cap and full tank, AND I'll tow my 6,000 lb car trailer with a VW on it to do it. Piece of cake...just fill the tank through the filler neck vent hose....

I'll also set the VW diesel record to 5,000 miles by turning on the key and then spinning the speed sensor during my trip. Setting both records simultaneously will out attention-whore this couple.


VW Diesels are pretty good. A friend of mine consistently got 60 MPG in town with hers. That said, this is a six speed transmission (at least one more, if not two more speeds than many cars have) and the fuel is low sulfur, which probably also helps.

Charles Bosse

Bill Baerg: Nope, it's a standard and legal US spec Passat available at a VW dealer near you.

Cé hé sin

Driving at 38 mph I could do 100mpg on an Insight, this is no feat when the highest registered mpg is about 200mpg. I have to agree with many of you that 38mph is not nearly every-day conditions on a highway.

Alfredo Balmaseda

A couple of years ago we visited spain. We were driving a Seat Alhambra (people mover) with a 1.8l turbo diesel. We travelled from Zamora to Madrid on just 4.6l of diesel (we didnt believe it either when we filled up, which gave us approximately 136mpg. We had to work this out several times because we couldnt believe how frugal it was

Glenn Asquith

Road warriors love the idea of not having to stop to refuel. I know I do, but after 500 miles I need to make a pit stop. I drove from Colorado Springs, CO to Albuquerque, NM solo in a 2010 Honda Civic LX totally stock and got 53.23 mpg cruising at 63 miles per hour and coasting down long steep grades on the highway. We have done 83 mpg, twice , on long highway trips in a 2005 Toyota Prius cruising at 67 miles per hour. It is way more fun to cruise at 80 in the Porsche Cayman S and get there in a timely manner...


To all who don't understand: It's a diesel that just is inherently more efficient when driven logically: not a sprint from light to light so one can jam on the brakes. As for driving style, on the same route in the same exact 2009 VW diesel/6 speed, I can get 40 mpg and my wife will get 29-still not bad for urban driving with lights every quarter mile. Drive as if the fuel/planet matters and your mpg will go up and up.


If they are the most fuel efficient couple why did they just waste a tank of deisel for ego's sake?


I have found using ethanol free fuel boosts my mileage by about 25%, hard to find, only two stations near me, why does congress want to mandate corn in my tank?

Bill Bennett

Try their economy in imperial gallons - 101+ mpg. I can't get that out of my 105cc Honda CT110.


In Europe every diesel motor with normal speed (56 mph) can reach 47 MPG without much problem. Here in Italy our diesel fuel cost us $8 per gallon.

Francesco Ferrara

One side note, here in europe diesel common rail are much preferred than gasoline, because have much higher torque (not the old diesel motors!). They are simply gorgeous to drive light to light.

Francesco Ferrara

In Czech republic and Germany are this low fuel runs very popular. The basic trick is in the tire pressure an size, and the aerodynamics. By wide tires, and low pressure is the fuel consumption to high. By permanent rising of fuel prices is doing a big difference on your valet, if your car doing 65 for a gallon, or 35. Actual fuel price in UK for 1 liter 95petrol is 1.38 GBP, that means approx 8.35 USD for an US gallon.


they must not have encountered much traffic or hilly terrain to get that gas mileage. on normal terrain for georgia, many hills, and around town my 2010 Prius averages about 56 mpg/44 mph with very conservative driving. but down at the beach averaging about 30 mph i can get close to their record. so VW must have fixed the car and chosen the route to totally maximize the clean diesel. that's not something your average person is capable or willing to do. i constantly encounter other drivers getting very frustrated with my driving. so until consumer attitudes get better, this ideal will never be realized on a grand scale. but, nice try. :) .

Joe Wesson

So THESE were those slow driving idiots on Rt 28 the other morning driving like snails in the fast lane! Sheesh! step on the gas you slo-poke!


the driving tips they posted are not quite specific enough to follow. after watching special interviews, there are a few tips we could all follow. some seem illogical but trust me, i improved mine by about 25%

common ones that everyone should know: -avoid brakes (any use is lost energy so avoid at all costs) -shut down motor if you will idle for more than about 20 seconds -be very light on accelerator and avoid over revving your engine. - shift sooner than later but not too soon or the engine will be strained (check owner manual for recommended point for shifting)

here's a few that will seem illogical -speed up going down hills. your motor will use way less gas going down hill to accelerate and then coast on flats until desired speed is obtained again. - dont change the gas pedal going up hill. hold steady. - dont coast in gear. your engine will work to slow you down and uses energy. throw your car in neutral instead.

good luck on your mileage

Matt Sedore

I've increased my mpg by the above tips plus I increased my tire pressure by 10psi, that is from 35 to 45 psi & my mpg increased by nearly 25%. I do these things because I'm a cheap b**tard & hate to spend my money!

William Johnston

so unless im missing something...

at 14 hours per day at 3 days => 42 hours (approx) distance = 1,626.1 mile

1,626.1 mile / 42 hours = 38.7 mph roughly ?

if you were to go anywhere near that speed on CA fwy's you'd prob be killed by other drivers wondering why you are going so slow.


They were going an AVERAGE of 38 miles an hour. Meaning they quite often hit higher then that as well as lower. They should have given the stats like maximum speed, median speed and all that. It would have been much more informational.

Its clear that many of you making the 'its not possible' comments have never owned or driven a TDI. I have a 01 TDI beetle and I get 64 mpg highway driving, going 65 mph. My best tank ever was 940 miles, with a 13.5 gallon tank. Im no specialist driver, and the car is bone stock. There are actually several mods that I've read could add to the mileage but I've never felt like spending the money.

These numbers are right in line with others that own these cars. They also aren't done with a lot of freaky hypermiler type driving. Mainly I do it by not riding the breaks all the time, and staying in 5th gear as much as possible.

Some of the notes for hypermiling given in comments above apply only to gasser engines as well. Diesel engines don't slow you down when the accelerator isn't applied near to the extent gasser engines do. Also when the gas isn't applied a diesel engine will input nearly 0 fuel. So when going downhill just stay in gear and enjoy the savings, which are even better then idling in neutral.

Further, these aren't illegal in the states. My beetle was purchased in Oregon from the dealership. California has some further restrictions that keep some diesel engined cars from being sold there. They however are not the entire country.


Hardly real world driving on an American freeway or highway? My time is a little more valuable to me and if I took 3 whole days to drive 1600 miles I've got WAY to much time on my hands! That being said, good job VW for making an out of the box car that can do this. :-)

Alma Rodrigo
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