2014 Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen’s 2014 Passat is a sensible and solid choice in the family sedan segment, offering lots of interior room and three engine choices, including a new 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and a dynamite diesel option. The new 1.8-liter engine replaces the Passat’s 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine. The new 4-cylinder offering produces the same horsepower (170) and more torque (184 lb.-ft.) than the outgoing 5-cylinder.

Volkswagen has a reputation for building durable engines – especially diesels – and the new power plant in the Passat is no exception. Our test car for the week had the new 1.8-liter turbocharged four, which proved fine for everyday driving. We didn’t find it especially quick off the line (Edmunds.com engineers made it to 60 mph from a standstill in 7.7 seconds), but the little engine was smooth as butter. And for its displacement, the engine performs remarkably well. The transmission choices are a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. The 1.8-liter engine will deliver 24 city miles or 35 highway miles per gallon with the manual transmission and 24/34 mpg with the automatic.

The 2.0-liter TDI clean diesel engine produces 140 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, and will take you an amazing 43 miles down the highway on a gallon of fuel. The third engine choice is a 3.6-liter V6 with 280 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The V6 delivers 28 mpg on the highway.

The Passat comes in five trim levels – S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, Sport and SEL. Pricing begins at $20,995 for the 1.8T S with the manual transmission and goes up to $34,265 for the flagship 3.6 SEL Premium. Our test car was about in the middle with a sticker price of $30,895. For that price, you get the 1.8-liter engine with the automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, navigation, premium Fender audio, Bluetooth, a power sun roof, dual-zone air, Sirius Satellite Radio, power and heated leather trim seats, and a rearview camera.

New for 2014, Volkswagen is also providing six months of free VW Car-Net services on Wolfsburg, SE and SEL trims. The services include automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location assistance, remote vehicle access, boundary and speed alerts, a vehicle health report and enhanced POI services for the navigation system.

Inside, the Passat has a roomy and luxurious cabin with comfortable seats. With a 110.4-inch wheelbase and 191.6 inches in total length, the Passat has best-in-class rear seat legroom. Two-tone interiors are offered, and VW does a particularly nice job pairing colors. Shiny wood trim on the dash and doors is elegant, and the analog clock centered atop the dash is a nice touch. Controls are large and intuitively placed, and the navigation screen is big. The pushbutton start is conveniently located on the center console near the shifter. The Fender premium audio system busts out 400 watts through nine speakers, including a trunk-mounted subwoofer.

When it comes to safety, the 2014 Passat wins a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Six standard airbags include front and side thorax airbags for front seat passengers, along with side curtains front and rear. The government gives the Passat five stars in safety tests as well.

The exterior styling of the Passat isn’t what we’d call sexy, but with a great European flavored roomy interior, great mileage, outstanding safety grades and excellent engine choices, the American-made 2014 Volkswagen Passat remains a great value for families on the road.

2014 Volkswagen

Passat SEL Premium

Engine:

1.8-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque:

170/184 lb.-ft.

Transmission:

6-speed automatic

Price:

$30,895 plus freight

EPA mileage estimate:

24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway