After the announcement Volkswagen would offer to buy back hundreds of thousands of diesel-engined vehicles in the U.S. as a way to settle the emissions-cheating scandal, owners of the affected vehicles have made it clear they want out.
Many people with Volkswagen TDIs sold from 2009 until 2015 want out of them and to take their buyback money.
If you’re having some issues deciding, here are some options if you like your current diesel VW, but want to be rid of its cheating engine.
What if I have a Golf TDI?
The Volkswagen Golf is widely considered to be one of the best compact cars on the market, and worth the premium it commands. As before the crisis, the Golf’s base engine is a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. It’s a sweet engine that has gobs of pull, which former diesel owners will like. Fuel economy ratings top out at 36 mpg, which is low coming off of a diesel, but still commendable given its performance.
Or you could go with the sportier Golf, the Volkswagen GTI and its 2.0-liter turbo. With up to 220 horsepower, it’s a lot of fun to drive while remaining efficient and practical.
And the Golf SportWagen is still one of the only inexpensive wagons left on the market. For 2017, it gains all-wheel drive as an option and a new Alltrack variant.
Want a different compact car? The Mazda3 is also a driver’s car and even more efficient. Revisions for 2017 have theoretically made it more refined, but it still likely won’t be as quiet as the Golf.
What if I have a Jetta TDI?
Unlike the Golf, the Volkswagen Jetta’s new base engine is a 1.4-liter turbo four with 150 horsepower. While that’s the same horsepower rating as the 2015 TDI’s, it lacks the same level of torque. Still, Jettas with this engine return up to 40 mpg on the highway according to the EPA. And if you’re light on the options, you can get into a Jetta S for less than $20,000, which isn’t a lot of money for a car with a big rear seat and a spacious trunk.
Alternatively, the Chevrolet Cruze also gets a turbocharged four and produces stellar fuel economy ratings of up to 42 mpg in some variants. It uses a start-stop system to shut off the engine when you’re not moving, boosting efficiency in city driving.
What if I have a Passat TDI?
The VW Passat was revised last year and got a swath of driver assistance features and other novelties like LED lights in order to keep up with the midsize sedan Joneses. Without the diesel, though, it lost its manual transmission and the efficient engine option is the 1.8-liter turbo that’s also found in the Golf and Jetta. In this application, it gets up to 34 mpg with its six-speed automatic.
That’s competitive, if not outstanding. And the Passat is big for its class, comfortable and good to drive.
Consider: The Kia Optima with the 1.6-liter turbo produces outstanding fuel economy for a midsize sedan, and you can equip it with navigation and parking sensors for around $27,000. Or the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid, which is rated at up to 49 mpg highway. That’s better than the old Passat TDI’s highway fuel economy, and it can be had starting from around $30,000.
What if I have a Beetle TDI?
Still looking for a sporty coupe or convertible that gets high mpg? The Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T and Turbo models offer a balance of fuel economy and power for not too much money. Recent additions to the line include the faux off-road Beetle Dune and the #PinkBeetle.
Or, the Honda Civic Coupe is stylish and super efficient, with 42 mpg and a strong turbocharged engine. But the most fuel-efficient convertible on the market is the new Smart ForTwo Cabriolet, which is also the least expensive convertible on sale and teeming with character like the Beetle.
What if I want to go electric to make up for all of those extra emissions?
If you live in California or eight other states and Washington D.C. where clean air laws are most stringent, you’ll be able to get the Volkswagen e-Golf. VW’s solution is making an electric car that drives just like a Golf, and it’s mostly just that. There’s little-to-no compromise in interior room, though its 83 miles of range is low. It can be had from just less than $30,000 before the $7,500 federal tax credit and other state and local incentives for electric cars.
VW’s current cars have plenty to offer returning customers who view their car favorably outside its scandal-plagued heart. But a quick look around reveals lots of other good choices elsewhere.