2014 Volkswagen Passat SEL Premium Sedan (1.8L 4-cyl. Turbo 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 1/13/2014
The Passat isn't the most exciting or least expensive car in the segment, but if you need a midsize sedan with plenty of room for five adults, ample cargo space and a comfortable ride, this is a fine choice. Plus, it's the only car in the class with European lineage.
PerformanceWe wouldn't classify the Passat as quick, but its acceleration is on-par for the midsize sedan class. The Passat's soft and comfortable suspension tuning endow it with equally soft handling. Nothing bad, mind you, but not exciting, either.
At 7.7 seconds to 60 mph, the Passat is quicker than a base-engine Toyota Camry. The new 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder puts out 170 hp, and is considerably smoother than the old 2.5-liter.
The 123 feet it takes the Passat to stop from 60 mph is average, but its long-travel pedal might require some getting used to. This type of response is aligned with the car's character, however.
There's not a lot of useful information available through the Passat's steering wheel, but the assist level builds nicely with speed. It's appropriate for the type of driving expected here.
The Passat has zero sporting intentions. Set your expectations appropriately. Handling is well mannered but with low limits. It's perfectly fine if you never need to go quickly around a corner.
The Passat offers supple but slow responses to most inputs, which makes it an easy car to drive. Most will appreciate this car's 6-speed automatic transmission versus VW's more abrupt twin-clutch.
ComfortComfort is a Passat strength. Suspension tuning is on the soft side with relatively plush springs. Inside there are ample amenities (dual-zone climate control, suede seat inserts, keyless ignition) as well.
The Passat's steering wheel is offset about an inch from the center of the seat. Seats are softer than is typical in German sedans, but still supportive. Driver's seat is 8-way power adjustable.
The Passat favors comfort over agility. It's big, soft and cushy. Many people will love it for exactly these characteristics.
Quietness is another Passat strength. There's virtually no engine noise from the turbocharged four-cylinder, and both road and wind noise are non-intrusive.
InteriorOverall, the Passat's interior is above average. It's big, well finished, appropriately laid out and offers good small-item storage.
The climate control is easy to use, and has dual zones and rear vents. Phone pairing is managed through steering wheel controls/driver information display, which is unusual and awkward.
The Passat offers large, wide-opening doors with big apertures. You'll be hard-pressed to find a sedan in this category that's easier to get in/out of.
Enormous inside. Rear seat space borders on luxury levels. Both leg room and lateral space are generous in the rear, and footwells are massive. Big people will fit comfortably back there.
Relatively small pillars all around. Only the rearmost pillars are large enough to cause marginal visibility hassles in some lane-changing or parking-lot scenarios.
Cavernous 15.9-cubic-foot trunk. Deep and wide. Split-folding rear seats help with extra-large cargo. Folding rear center armrest. Thoughtful small-item storage throughout.
ValueThe Passat's value depends partly on how much you value the VW name, because you can get an equally equipped Honda Accord or Toyota Camy for considerably less money.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The Passat is neatly assembled from quality materials. Its body panels align well and its interior is quiet and rattle free.
The Passat SEL comes with the features we'd expect in a midsize sedan, like navigation, premium audio, power sunroof and a rearview camera. But it lacks any real frills that justify its added expense.
Though you get a German nameplate and a presumption of quality, the Passat's Japanese competition cost less than the $31,715 SEL Premium model. Yet they offer similar features and specifications.
The EPA rates the Passat 1.8 Turbo at 28 mpg Combined (24 City/34 Highway). Our testing showed that 26 mpg is a more realistic expectation, which is about the same as we've seen in the 4-cylinder Honda Accord.
The Passat comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty along with 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage.
Roadside assistance is offered for 3 years/36,000 miles. Free maintenance is covered for 2 years/24,000 miles, similar to the Toyota Camry.
Fun To DriveDon't expect the Passat to behave athletically in any measure of performance. This is a practical people-mover, not a sport sedan by any stretch of the imagination.
The Passat is more of an A-to-B car than a machine you buy to enjoy the act of driving. It's big and comfortable and reasonably efficient.
The Passat is an introvert. While it's a perfectly fine everyday sedan, it's as guarded in its character as it is in its performance.