2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Stereo Has Some Cool Tricks Up Its Sleeve
August 4, 2014
My teenage son and I visited my mom up in the Bay Area last weekend. I was lucky enough to take our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI. I say lucky because the more time I spend in the Passat, the more I like it.
As a guy who has primarily driven Japanese cars for the past 20 years, it's always fun to get in some German car time. It's like moving to a new city. The language is the same, so are most of the customs. But some things are just simply different.
We took the I-5 freeway for most of the drive, and it was as fun as ever, which means not much. Between southern and northern California, the I-5 is a two-lane highway that runs hundreds of mostly flat miles along stretches of farmland, cows, and the occasional town. Because of the drought and the time of year, most of what you see is brown dusty fields. All in all, it's a long boring drive.
One thing that made the ride a bit easier was the Passat's stereo system. It sounds great and does some cool tricks. One thing I especially like was the ability to rewind songs on the steering wheel. While streaming Bluetooth, many cars give you the option to restart the song, but not rewind. To rewind a song, you'd have to do it from your cell phone, and messing with my phone isn't something I'm inclined to do while driving. So all the help I can get to hear what I want while sitting on the 5 is welcome.
Kinda cool, especially because many of the tracks on my library are DJ mixes and concerts, both of which are seen as one long song by my phone. Being able to skip or wind to the good parts is always appreciated.
I found another useful feature while listening to the Sirius/XM. In the Passat, you can listen to one station, and see what another station is playing at the same time. This is something else you don't find in all cars. Turn the tuner knob on the right side of the display to the station you're thinking of switching to, and you can save yourself from turning on Maroon 5 in the event you're just not in a Moves Like Jagger kind of mood. Nothing against Maroon 5.
As much as I like these cool features, they don't make up for the Passat not having a normal USB port. I had forgotten this little fact, and hadn't fully charged my phone before hitting the road. I was concerned I'd lose juice during the trip, which is a huge no-no for me. Luckily enough, I made a snack stop at a gas station that happened to sell cigarette lighter USB chargers for 5 bucks. Disaster averted.
When the trip was done, I asked my son if he had any complaints about the car. Not a single one. He did mention he was surprised how big the trunk was. What he didn't mention is feeling cramped. He is a big boy, about six-foot-three with long legs. We drove roughly a thousand miles in three days, and to not have legroom not even brought up is a win in my book.
Like I said, the more time I spend in the Passat, the more I like it. Now if VW would just include a universal USB port.
Matt Jones, Senior Editor @11,960 miles