Like two ships passing in the night, our long-term 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT and 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street edition briefly met in person last Saturday morning before their driver – myself and Senior Editor Lavrinc – swapped keys, turned around and headed back to our respective ends of the country.

The Great Long-Term Vehicle Swap of 2010 went off without a hitch, and because we know more than a few of you are curious, you'll find a table after the jump that shows fuel consumption results for each vehicle on my own portion of the trip. But first, here are some other interesting factoids.

Miles Traveled: 4,938 total for both vehicles
Days: 4
Hours Driven: 10+ per day, per person
Starting Points: Cleveland, OH (Neff in Legacy), San Francisco, CA (Lavrinc in Jetta)
States Neff Traveled Through: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming
States Lavrinc Traveled Through: California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
Meeting Point: Cheyenne, WY

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These results are only for my time in each vehicle, from Cleveland to Cheyenne with the Legacy 2.5GT and back again with the Jetta TDI, or about 1,276 miles each way according to Google Maps.

Gallons Miles MPG Fuel Cost Cost/Mile
2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT 7.79 205.1 26.33 $24.53 $0.12
13.55 367.1 27.09 $42.00 $0.11
11.89 296.1 24.90 $34.47 $0.12
14.63 392.1 26.80 $40.95 $0.10
TOTAL/AVG 47.87 1260.4 26.28 $141.95 $0.11
2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition 11.84 423 35.72 $36.10 $0.09
10.82 448.4 41.44 $34.18 $0.08
9.94 421.8 42.43 $30.80 $0.07
TOTAL/AVG 32.60 1293.2 39.87 $101.08 $0.08

Even though the Volkswagen traveled a few extra miles, it handily beat the Subaru in terms of fuel economy. As it should. No one expects a mid-sizer with a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder and all-wheel drive to put up the same numbers as a compact sedan powered by a highly efficient diesel. That said, there are a number of mid-sized sedans available today that can achieve 30+ mpg on the highway. Most have less powerful naturally aspirated four-cylinders, whereas the Legacy 2.5GT uses a turbo to help produce a healthy 265 horsepower. Still, the brand new 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T also uses a turbo four that produces 274 hp and manages an estimated 33 mpg on the highway... but lacks all-wheel drive.



Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the Legacy 2.5GT requires Premium Unleaded, which means the old argument that diesel fuel costs more than gasoline doesn't hold here. I found the price for a gallon of each to be about the same during the trip and spent less overall on fuel for the Jetta TDI.

Even though the little VW was significantly better at the pump, I would actually choose the Legacy to do the drive all over again thanks to its supremely comfortable front seats and forgiving ride. Were the Jetta TDI not the sporty Cup Street Edition with thickly bolstered seats and a stiffer suspension, it may have been just as easy to go the distance in as the Legacy.