2014 Volkswagen Passat
- Written by Wilson Calvert
What it is: The Passat is Volkswagen's mid-sized car that competes with the like of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The Passat is updated for 2014 with a new V6 engine choice, and a turbocharged 1.8 liter five-cylinder engine replacing the previously standard five-cylinder engine. Turbocharged engines are great because you get more power when you need it, and fuel savings when you can restrain yourself from enjoying all of the 1.8 turbo's 170 horsepower and 184 lbs-ft of torque. While a manual transmission is available on lower trims, my SEL Premium trim came standard with the quite good 6-speed automatic transmission. The Passat is not a rocket by any means, but it was fun to drive (much more so than a Camry or Accord). One thing I really appreciated with the Passat is the large variety of configurations you get the Passat in. The base model starts all of the way down at $20,955, and if you want a V6, or a turbo-diesel engine, or a sport package, and so on, it is all available. Standard options like navigation and sunroof are also available on just about every trim.There really is a Passat for everyone. My SEL Premium trim came equipped with some great 18" wheels, leather lined seats, touchscreen navigation system, and even a Fender-branded premium audio system that had nine speakers. You definitely felt that you were getting a premium German car experience, but for only about $30,000 instead of significantly more for a BMW or Mercedes-Benz. MPG: 24 city / 34 highway for 1.8 engine. Price: Base $20,995. $31,715 as-tested. Upsides: Premium German feel, without the premium German price Downsides: Does everything well, but no great feature sticks out about the car. Might be an upside for some buyers Wrap-up: I really believe that the Passat is a good car, but there's nothing there that makes me truly excited about it. It feels just too generic for my tastest. On the other end, my brother-in-law thinks that the Passat is literally the best car available for purchase, and would probably purchase one in a heart beat if he was looking for a new car right now. It could be that I'm just not a Volkswagen person (VW has a very high repeat buyer rate). In a world of so many sedan choices, it's going to come down to personal decisions, and while I would take a Passat over most, it still falls in the middle of the pack for me.