The car was driven by John and Helen Taylor, two self-proclaimed mileage experts who have already set several mileage-related world records. It was a fully stock Chattanooga-built model powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine bolted to a six-speed manual transmission.
In preparation for the drive the Taylor couple had the fuel tank entirely drained by a Volkswagen dealership. They also had the odometer and the speedometer calibrated.
The Passat's tank was then filled to the brim with precisely 19.32 gallons of diesel and the fuel filler door was sealed by a law enforcement officer.
The challenge began on May 3rd, 2012, in Houston, Texas. To emulate a real-world driving situation, the couple loaded the Passat with 120 pounds of luggage and they only drove during daytime hours.
Three days and nine states later, the Passat ran out of fuel in Sterling, Virginia, precisely 1,626.1 miles away from its starting point. A Virginia law enforcement officer was on hand to certify that the fuel filler door was still sealed.
The distance traveled on the tank of diesel averages out to approximately 84.1 miles per gallon. For the sake of comparison, the EPA rates the Passat TDI at 43 miles per gallon.
"We're honored that the Taylors chose the 2012 Passat TDI as the vehicle to set this outstanding distance record. Their record shows just how economical the Passat TDI can be in the right hands," said Volkswagen in a statement.
The Taylors were not randomly-selected; VW and Chevrolet have previously worked with the gentle-driving couple to achieve impressive fuel economy feats.
The German company is also used to such records. The previous world record for the longest distance on a single tank was 1,526.6 miles, achieved in Europe with a 1.6-liter Passat BlueMotion.