2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI: Texas Road Trip, Day 4
October 9, 2014
Day 4: Willcox, Arizona to Lake Forest, California, 571 miles.
Another early morning wake-up call on my Texas Road Trip. Partially because, once again, I wanted to get in a run before I hit the road in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI, and partially because I wanted to get home at a reasonable hour to get some things done.
Arizona had gotten some rain the day before, and the sky was full of leftover clouds for a cool-looking sunrise. It also helped my mood that I found a much nicer backroad to run on near my hotel, kind of off in the country, than I had on my trip over in New Mexico. I'm telling you, I'm loving this early-morning run thing on road trips. Even if it means sacrificing 45 minutes or so of sleep.
I took a slightly different route home to California than I had to Texas.
I had stuck to boring Interstate 10 pretty much the whole way to Texas, that is until I got close to Austin, at which point I cut across on 290 through Fredericksburg. That was a nice way to roll into town, as 290 is mostly a wide-open, fairly high-speed two-to-four-lane road that's out in the country and largely devoid of traffic.
Of course I took 290 back out of Austin, and continued on Interstate 10 West through Texas and New Mexico into Arizona. But near Casa Grande, Arizona I switched over to Interstate 8, a more southerly route, for a change of scenery. Maybe it's just me, but I find the desert landscape on the 8 a bit more interesting versus the scrubbiness on the 10.
The total length of the trip rang up at 2,745 miles, gas station to gas station in Lake Forest, California. Fuel economy for the trip came in with an average of 31.9 mpg. The best distance on one tank was 513.4 miles.
Thoughts on the trip: Four days on the road to get to and from the 2015 Audi S3 launch was a bit of a slog, I'm not going to lie to you, I was pretty tired when I got home. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat. This is what we do. We drive cars.
I thoroughly enjoyed my short time in Austin, as well as the vast open land in Texas and the considerably more interesting scenery than you encounter in eastern California. Not to mention the actual weather I drove through in Texas and New Mexico. I also liked the 80 mph speed limit in Texas, as well as anti-littering road signs like "Don't Mess with Texas." I mean, how classic Texas is that?
Thoughts on the Passat: Overall, this is a fine highway machine. As stated previously, I find the automatic transmission's low-speed operation a bit lurchy, but once up to speed (which you're pretty much always at out on the open road) the Passat is nice and smooth. It has enough turbo power to merge onto 80-mph highways without fear of being squashed by a big rig, the suspension is cushy, the seats are super-comfy. I especially like the suede inserts.
But no matter how perfectly the Passat performed throughout the trip, I just couldn't get excited about it. It's, well...kinda boring. It doesn't offer any real driving enthusiasm. And its styling, while certainly not offensive in any way, doesn't stand out as anything special.
That doesn't make it a bad car. It's just maybe not the car for me. Your thoughts may differ.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor 17,879 miles