2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Phoenix Road Trip Part 3
July 28, 2014
After staying in Chandler, Arizona for the night, it was off to Nissan's proving grounds in Stanfield the next morning to get some background information on the 2015 Nissan Murano.
After a few hours with the Nissan folks, I hopped back in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI to head to south Orange County. I punched my address into the navigation system and, like a good citizen of Orange County I blindly followed the route it gave me.
After driving along on the two-lane road for a bit, I realized it wasn't going to take me back the way I came on Interstate 10. Instead the nav had chosen Interstate 8 West. After I thought about it, this actually made sense, both because of my starting point in Stanfield, which is due south of Phoenix, and because I was heading home instead of to the office in Santa Monica.
It also turns out that Interstate 8 has considerably more interesting desert topography than Interstate 10, the last which is largely dirt and scrub brush. There seemed to be fewer cars on I8, too. The downside is it put me close to San Diego driving through near-rush hour on a Thursday evening, with all that entails. In sum, ultimately there's no escaping traffic around these parts.
As for the Passat, it averaged 31.9 mpg over the 812 miles (the EPA rates it at 34 mpg on the highway). It's quite a comfy cruiser, with a decent ride, low road and wind noise and that smooth turbo four-cylinder that has just enough power for the situations I encountered.
The Passat's faults, namely the weird-to-modulate/vague-feeling brakes and slow-reacting six-speed automatic transmission, were of little bother on this primarily highway trip.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 10,869 miles