1.8-Liter Engine Is a Welcome Upgrade - 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI Long-Term Road Test

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI Long-Term Road Test

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2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: 1.8-Liter Engine Is a Welcome Upgrade

February 27, 2014

2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI

When the current generation Volkswagen Passat debuted for 2012, its base engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, was hardly a standout. For 2014, the competition is even better, and that sets up the 2.5 as an underperformer for both acceleration and fuel economy.

With the 2014 Passat's newly available turbocharged 1.8-liter engine, though, the game has changed.

Around town, our Passat TSI SEL 1.8 feels suitably quick when you press on the gas pedal. That impression is backed up by our track testing, where we recorded a 0-60 mph sprint of 7.7 seconds compared to 9.0 seconds with the 2.5. There isn't any lag or hesitation at low idle, and the engine feels smooth and strong all the way to redline.

Of course, fuel economy is the other big factor here. The results aren't exactly stellar so far, as we noted in our latest fuel economy update. But it's also pretty early in our test of this car, and we've yet to take any long highway-biased road trips.

Regardless, the 1.8 is the greatly preferable choice over the 2.5.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,640 miles


  • Correction: The original base engine was VW's 2.5l FIVE-cylinder.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Ooops. And of course they had to put 4,600 miles on the car before we got any driving impression from them.

  • I guess I need to test drive a Jetta or Passat with the new engine. Everywhere I read about the 2.5 everyone hates it and I rented a Jetta with it and thought it wasn't bad. So if the 2.5 wasn't bad for me then the 1.8 should be really impressive. Although, I still can't get past the reliability worries...

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Why did it take you 3 months to write something about the updated engine? The whole auto-journalist world seems to hate that 5 cylinder and begged for its replacement, and yet we had to wait through 3 months of "the backseat is big", "the coat hooks are too small", "the seat heaters work in 40F Cali weather, wow!" before anyone cared to post anything about the new motor. Considering you purchased this car to evaluate it, then EVALUATE the dang thing.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    zim, I have the 5 cylinder in my Sportwagen and I don't mind it. The torque curve is nice, the NVH is overstated, the fuel economy is OK, and I much prefer it to the 1.8 and 2.0 buzzbox 4-bangers most $18-20K cars have come with. It was getting outdated, but since VW has zero interest in non-turbo engines, it was an interesting and decent effort. The automotive press decided early on this engine would be a whipping boy and everyone just ran with that meme. CR was completely mental about the NVH even though there are far worse engines, like the Nissan 2.5 in the Altima they rated as a top pick for years but never mentioned in their reviews. I know because we have that engine too and it sounds like there is gravel in the combustion chambers. The 2.5 was much quieter and smoother in the Passat than the Jetta & Golf, but the press still reflexively whined and grumped about it. The 1.8 looks great on paper, but I too worry about reliability, especially since the 2.5 has been a pretty stout and worry-free motor for a company not known for such things

  • rwatson rwatson Posts:

    emajor, I agree. I lived with the 2.5 Jetta for a week or so and found no problem with the engine. It seems the biggest problem was with the transmission hesitating by starting out in 2nd, or feels like it is. Of course, a lot of cars are doing this for fuel economy reasons, and I maintain it as OUR fault for allowing a government who dictates what products are brought to market. I remember Audi used a 5-cylinder for years, and while the older 100 Quatro (in Germany) wasn't a 0-60 monster, it was a really nice motor for cruising. I wonder if there's a relationship in these engines? I have a feeling I would feel similarities if I could drive the manual xmsn, but we know how hard those are to find.

  • cski cski Posts:

    The Passat is a pretty big car to haul around with a 1.8 turbo, and I would guess that you're in the throttle pretty deep to pull out in a hurry; or to merge in with traffic at highway speeds. The congested streets here in DC/MD/VA keep my F/E, rated at 24 city; down to more like 20. I have the competing Kia Optima with the 2.4 liter, naturally aspirated inline 4, with 200 HP and 186 lb ft. EPA rated at 24/35/26

  • emajor, I only spent two days with the 5 cyl but put a lot of miles on it and never noticed any real harshness. I was not gentle with it around SF and did a lot of full throttle runs zipping around other cars and double parked cars (for nearly an hour, yeah I got lost). Followed it up with a long 80 mph freeway run and averaged 30 mpg. Now the prior generation Malibu we rented, that sounded like it was going to die or explode or both when I'd do full throttle passes up hills. -- The only complaint I had was with the hesitation that I think rwatson was talking about. Every time I'd start out from a stop it would for half a second pull strong and then the power would seem to drop and then build back up. I had to adjust the way I moved the throttle to try to keep the power even and strong for the first second or so.

  • mieden mieden Posts:

    I liked the 2.5 in a few Jettas I drove for a rental agency. I really liked the throaty, 5-cyl growl. It was great until I loaded a car up with 5 people and there belongings. When fully loaded, It ran out of stream on the highway around 70mph. Any hills or passing maneuvers after that were "pedal to the floor and wait" situations, even after manually selecting the appropriate gear. rwatson, someone told me the 5-banger was closely related to Lambo's V10...I dunno if there's any merit to that, but maybe.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    cski, your car has comparable torque figures on paper, but since VW always underrates their engines, I would bet this Passat is making quite a bit more at the wheels. And your car is rated at 186 lb./ft., but that's at 4,250 rpm - the VW is making 184 lb./-ft. from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm. At 1,500, your car is probably making like 95 lb./ft. Whole different thing.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    It's funny how it works in VW's favor that they downgraded the base engine in the Passat from the excellent 2.0T to the 2.5 several years ago, as now they're getting raves for "upgrading" to a 1.8T. Meanwhile in the poor Jetta they replaced the 2.5 as the base engine with the awfully underpowered, twelve-year-old design 2.0.

  • joner800 joner800 Posts:

    that it one of the most ornate engine shrouds i have ever seen.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    True, darthbimmer...but you have to remember that unlike most nameplates, the Passat has moved downmarket with the last redesign (for the U.S. model, anyway). You will pay less for either a stripped or loaded Passat now than you would have for the previous-gen one. in 2009, a loaded Passat would run you over $40k...and that was in 2009 dollars. I don't think you can get a Passat up over $38k right now, and this is five years' worth of inflation later.

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