2014 Volkswagen Passat Road Test Review
By Bob Plunkett
Wheels squeal in protest from some hard curves as we charge down Old Mine Road on the Jersey side of the Delaware River while testing the enthusiasm of a new turbocharged 4-pack engine in 2014 issues of Passat, Volkswagen's mid-size 4-door family sedan.
Passat was developed expressly for the American market and it comes together at Volkswagen's USA assembly plant located in Chattanooga, Tenn.
For model-year 2014 Passat lists three powertrain choices, each with multiple trim levels. However, Passat's venerable base engine -- a dual-cam in-line 5-cylinder plant with 2.5-liter displacement -- is being phased out during the year and replaced by a gasoline-sipping 4-in-line engine which displaces 1.8 liters and comes with a turbocharger and direct fuel injection.
Power numbers for the turbo-4 tally to 170 hp at 4800 rpm with torque rising to 184 lb-ft at only 1500 rpm.
Fuel economy figures also look good with this plant: 24/35 mpg (city/highway) for the standard 5-speed manual transmission and 24/34 mpg (city/highway) with an optional 6-speed automatic.
The new turbo-4 applies to 2014 Passat 1.8T in five trims: S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, Sport and SEL Premium.
A second powertrain variation is the diesel-powered TDI: Passat TDI totes a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that burns ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel and employs common-rail direct injection (CDI) with electronically controlled turbocharging to enhance power and torque. The TDI engine produces 140 hp at 4000 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque at 1750 rpm.
Shifter choices are a 6-speed manual or twin-clutch and 6-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) automated manual.
The federal EPA sets fuel economy estimates at 31/43 mpg (city/highway) for the Passat TDI with a manual shifter and 30/40 mpg (city/highway) with the DSG automatic.
Volkswagen also builds the 2014 Passat in a luxury edition with V6 power under the badge of Passat VR6.
The VR6 draws from an aluminum 3.6-liter V6 engine with dual overhead cams. It romps with 280 hp at 6200 rpm plus torque peaking to 258 lb-ft at 2500 rpm. That 6-speed DSG automatic links to the V6 and earns estimated fuel economy numbers of 20/28 mpg (city/highway).
Passat's prow houses a 3-blade grille tied to corner headlamp clusters to forge a single horizontal unit stacked above a smooth wrap of body-colored fascia. Below the fascia is a broad air intake with honeycomb mesh surface and optional foglights pinned at ends. At the tail a blunt notchback rump has twin-lamp taillight assemblies wrapping around rear corners and a body-colored bumper punctuated by a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe.
The front independent suspension system consists of MacPherson struts with lower control arms, coil springs and telescopic dampers plus an anti-roll bar. In the rear, the independent 4-link arrangement uses telescopic shocks and an anti-roll bar.
The power-assisted brakes have vented 12.3-inch discs in front and solid 10.7-inch discs in back. Active safety equipment includes an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic braking assist (EBA), plus Volkswagen's electronic stability control (ESC) device.
Passat's 5-seat passenger compartment measures to a generous scale and is filled with fine materials. The layout shows twin bucket seats with console in front and a broad rear bench with three positions. Seat upholstery ranges from high-quality perforated V-Tex leatherette to optional soft leather with trimwork in composite material or real wood.
Standard equipment on Passat 1.8T S includes 16-inch steel wheels, the 5-speed manual transmission with hill hold control, automatic headlights, air conditioning, power tabs for windows and door locks and mirrors, steering wheel with audio and phone controls, driver seat with 8-way manual controls, rear seatback split 60/40, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker AM/FM radio with CD deck.
Passat 1.8T SEL Premium brings the 6-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch aluminum wheels, foglamps, remote starter, partial leather seat upholstery, driver seat power controls with memory and 8-way power passenger seat, RNS 510 navigation and a Fender premium audio kit.
MSRP figures for 2014 Passat 1.8T models stretch from $20,995 for Passat 1.8T S to $31,295 for the 1.8T SEL Premium. Top model Passat VR6 SEL Premium lists for $34,265.
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