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#16

in Affordable Midsize Cars

MSRP: $20,845 - $34,265
Invoice: $19,990 - $32,860
MPG: 22 City / 31 Hwy
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Volkswagen Passat Performance

The automotive press likes that the 2014 Volkswagen Passat is available with several different engines and transmissions. They’re impressed with the base engine’s even power delivery and the fuel economy from the available diesel. Test drivers agree that the Passat has more athletic handling than many rivals, and they like that it delivers a comfortable ride at the same time.

  • "Model refreshes tend to focus on fuel economy these days, but the base 2014 Passat's more robust powerband and enhanced flexibility make it more fun to drive-and prove that you can build a thriftier engine that's also satisfying at speed." -- Popular Mechanics (1.8-liter turbo four)
  • "Not only is this midsize VW sufficiently comfortable and serene for long road trips on U.S. highways, but you can even get it with a potent 3.6-liter V6 engine." -- Edmunds
  • "… the Passat dances well enough -- and in ordinary driving, it offers a quiet cabin and generally excellent shock-absorption." -- AutoTrader
  • "The engine lineup is a VW engine nerd’s dream, and is unique among mid-size sedans." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Volkswagen Passat has several engines to choose from. The base 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine is being phased out and replaced during the model year with a 170-horsepower, turbocharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional on the base Passat. Models with the turbo four-cylinder and automatic get an EPA-estimated 24/34 mpg city/highway, which is not as good as the fuel economy estimates of rivals like the Mazda6 and Nissan Altima. The 2014 Passat also is available with a turbodiesel, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower. Models with this engine get 30/40 mpg with VW’s DSG automated manual transmission or 31/43 mpg when paired with a six-speed manual, which are excellent fuel economy estimates for the class. The Passat’s most powerful engine is a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, which is mated to the six-speed DSG transmission. EPA fuel economy estimates for models with this engine are 20/28 mpg.

Though test drivers say the outgoing five-cylinder engine has adequate power, they prefer the new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, noting that it delivers smooth, strong power. They also like the turbodiesel and V6 engines for their eager acceleration. The DSG automated manual transmission is the favorite among many test drivers, who say that it delivers crisp, smooth shifts.

  • "Take a good look at the Passat's serenely (perhaps conservatively) styled interior and you'll get a pretty good sense of how this midsize sedan drives-especially when it's powered by the new base 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Unlike the outgoing five-cylinder, the new powerplant pulls strongly and steadily from low rpms, delivering smooth and easy acceleration, thanks to its flat torque curve." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Even though the Passat is several hundred pounds heavier than the Jetta, the 1.8-liter turbo's 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque move the mid-size sedan smartly enough, with something near half-throttle summoning the turbine for duty." -- Car and Driver
  • "Although performance from the 2.5-liter five-cylinder is fully adequate, we think most buyers will appreciate the new 1.8T engine's smoother power delivery, increased fuel economy and extra thrust for passing. … the turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel has lively low-end power and returns truly extraordinary fuel economy and fuel range. For those who care more about power than mpg, the 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers much more enthusiastic acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "The choice of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic is a reminder that this diesel is the driving man's alternative to a hybrid. It delivers a broad band of turbocharged thrust scaled to a diesel's truncated tachometer and complemented by the crisp, full-throttle upshifts of the DSG transmission." -- Automobile Magazine (2012 TDI model)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers agree that the VW Passat is comfortable on the highway and a bit sportier in turns than many affordable midsize cars. Many also report that the brakes are strong and the steering is accurate.

  • “Hustle the big, roomy sedan down a twisty back road, and you'll appreciate its balanced handling, good body control, and capable brakes. Segueing to 1.8T also means shifting from hydraulic to electrically boosted power steering, a fuel-economy move that usually means some loss in feedback, but VW has maintained most of the previous system's low friction and linear feel." -- Car and Driver
  • "On the highway, all 2014 Volkswagen Passats are impressively quiet and comfortable, snuffing out bumps large and small. Around turns, the steering is reasonably precise, although there's not much feel for the road and some drivers find it a tad heavy at low speeds. Overall, though, the Passat earns high marks for its relaxed, refined demeanor in everyday driving." -- Edmunds
  • "Handling dynamics are similarly simple to manage, with the new electric-assist, rack-and-pinion steering setup telegraphing enough information about the road surface below to encourage speedier driving than you might otherwise draw from this otherwise sensible sedan." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "On the road, the 2014 Passat is like an athlete after a full-body Novocain massage. You can tell there's some real handling capability in there that a sport-tuned suspension would tease out (cue the new-for-2014 Sport model), but the default setup is definitely geared toward comfort." -- AutoTrader
Review Last Updated: 5/15/14

Next Steps: Volkswagen Passat