I've owned VW diesels for years (not TDIs
). My current is an '86 Jetta bought new. It now has 218,000 miles on it, manual shift, original clutch. I've never had any major engine troubles in fact all problems with this car were items you would expect to replace, glow plugs, water pump, hoses, brakes, struts, belts, control arm bushings etc. I drive with a lead foot and still average 43 mpg combined city/highway. I know this for a fact because I keep a fuel log. I'd love to own a TDI and as soon as mine dies, I'll replace it with a 4 cylinder, 2 litre TDI Passat wagon, about 38 mpg, I think.
When I have rare mechanical trouble I take it to a friend who is a certified VW mechanic. Parts are readily available. If you don't have a friend that's a certified VW mechanic, take it to a VW dealer or anyplace that has a mechanic familiar with diesels. Fuel is no problem here in the East. A lot of stations carry diesel and there are plenty of truck stops, if you don't mind fueling up with the big rigs.
Diesels are not as 'green' as hybrids. They release a good amount of particulates but some diesel proponents are fond of saying that diesels are the only internal combustion engine used in underground operations. Refining diesel fuel uses less energy too.
I've owned an '81 diesel Rabbit that I killed with a botched water pump replacement, bought new 200,000 miles +, a '86 Gulf diesel bought used with 150,000 miles on it, I put another 80,000 miles on it and sold it. As far as I know it has well over 300,000 miles and still on the road.
Non diesels I've owned:
1989 VW Jetta, bought new, sold and kept the '86 diesel Jetta though it had more miles, replaced with the used Gulf also had more miles.
1993 VW Eurovan that had 90,000 on it when I bought it, now has 190,000 miles on it. Still in service.
1999 Passat that had 80,000 when bought now has 130,000 on it. (Wife's car)
I will not hesitate to take anyone of these vehicles anywhere.
Hybrids are a nice idea but I'll wait to see if the technology is reliable. Right now I view them as over priced status symbols for the environmentally hip.