2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Texas Road Trip, Day 1
September 30, 2014
Day 1: Lake Forest, California to Deming, New Mexico, 688 miles.
I needed to get to Austin, Texas for the press launch of the 2015 Audi S3. Here at Edmunds we have a bunch of long-term cars, so it was decided I would drive instead of taking the easy way and flying.
Edmunds car czar, Mike Schmidt, said our 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI was most in need of some mileage lovin' (my words, not his), so that's what I took on my road trip.
Now, because I'm awesome (and by that I mean I'm about as far from awesome as you can get), I left, oh, about three-and-a-half hours later than intended. It's kinda my thing.
Since I hit the road at 1:30 p.m. instead of around 10:00 a.m., I was taking a big risk I'd get caught in the dreaded 91 East freeway afternoon traffic-fest. I got lucky, and it wasn't too jammed up in Corona.
Regardless, I needed to make up some time on the road and try to get as far as I could on the first day so as to not leave too many miles for the final drive into Austin. Couldn't be late that second day, as there was an S3 press conference I had to attend in the evening.
As I was leaving the general south Orange County area, I was once again reminded of my biggest gripe with the VW Passat TSI: its six-speed automatic transmission is rather clunky and slow-minded around town. But I think I finally found a work-around for the initial off-the-line lurchiness. I tried waiting a second or two after taking my left foot off the brake before putting my right foot on the gas pedal. It worked, making the throttle tip-in and transmission take-up much smoother. Of course, it does seem rather silly that you need to do this.
Somewhere in The Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, I completely lost track of my fuel-remaining countdown on the instrument panel while on the phone with a friend. Hands-free, of course.
Now, I wasn't trying to one-up colleague Josh Jacquot and his near-insane desire to push a car to the last drops of fuel (remind me to tell you about the time he tried to run us out of gas around one in the morning in a Mitsubishi Evolution on our way to Moab for some mountain biking. Yeah, he's brilliant.), just refer back to the beginning of this article where I say I'm "awesome."
Luckily I came across an exit with gas not long after the Passat's instrument panel was in fuel panic mode. On the bright side, it was a pretty good tank, going 513.4 miles with a 32.3 mpg average.
I stopped for the night in Deming, New Mexico, checking into a hotel around 11:30 p.m. Once I was in my room, I realized that, with the time change, it was actually 12:30 a.m. That's just...so great.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,822 miles