Test Drive: 2014 VW Passat TDI Review

Jerry Reynolds | March 20, 2014
Test Drive: 2014 VW Passat TDI Review

If you listen to the Car Pro Show, you know I am often asked what the best car is for people who drive a lot of miles. My answer is almost always the VW Jetta or Passat with the diesel engine. I am reviewing the 2014 VW Passat TDI this week and with fuel prices up, and a VW national incentive program on diesels, the timing is good.

Of course, the terrific fuel economy is one reason I am so high on VW diesels, but the other big factor is the long engine life. Diesels are built to go much farther than gas engines, and all the internal parts are heavy duty, starting with the cast iron block.

My review vehicle has the “no frills package”, a term I use for a totally basic car. It does not have a single option on it. That doesn’t mean it is not nicely equipped, it is just a very basic Passat.

Under the hood, it has the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder TDI clean diesel engine that is putting out 140-horses. That doesn’t sound like a lot in a larger mid-sized car, but because it is a diesel, it has a ton of torque. This one has a six-speed manual transmission. You can tell it is a diesel at idle, but once you get going, it quiets down and you would never suspect it.

Although this car has no options, it has some nice standard features like leatherette seats (that means man-made leather, not cow leather) premium sound system, Bluetooth hookup, tilt wheel, cruise control, power drivers seat, heated front seats, power windows and locks, rearview camera, and automatic headlights.

Standard safety features for the 2014 Volkswagen Passat include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags. In the event of a crash, the onboard computer automatically cuts off the fuel supply, unlocks the doors and turns on the hazard flashers. VW's new Car-Net telematics system, standard from the Wolfsburg model on up, includes automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers). A Car-Net smartphone app lets owners control many of these functions on the go.

In government crash testing, the Passat scored a perfect five out of five stars overall, with five stars for frontal impact protection and five stars for side crash protection. Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Passat its top score of "Good" for frontal moderate-overlap, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The Passat received the Institute's rating of acceptable in the new small-overlap frontal-offset crash test.

The Passat is made in Tennessee, and you can see the American influence in the spacious interior. The Passat in the SE model like the one I am testing, is simple but not plain. It has nice exterior lines, and if it did not say VW on it, you might wonder if it were a luxury car.

Passat drives great, handles really well, and you don’t feel every bump in the road. It is an extremely enjoyable car, especially on the highway. I am getting the 31 miles per gallon in town, and easily surpassed the 43 miles per gallon highway rating. I consistently got 45-46 without even trying, and I truly believe this car will do 50 or darned close to it.

Bear in mind, the great fuel economy and almost zero emissions output are both awesome, but the Passat TDI requires urea, or as it is often called diesel exhaust fluid. You will have to add it every 10,000 miles are so, but the first two are on VW thanks to the VW Carefree Maintenance program that covers routine maintenance for 2 years or 24,000 miles. After that, it will cost you around $25 if you do it yourself, and $40-$50 if you have it done at a repair facility.

The VW Passat is an outstanding value, and it is a car I will continue to recommend to people who do a lot of driving or want to keep a car a long time.

What I liked most: Fuel economy and the value proposition.

What I would change: Actually nothing.

MSRP: Base price $27,115, as equipped $27,115.

Fuel Economy: 31 in town/43 highway/35 combined and doing better.

Weight: 3393 Pounds

2014 Passat TDI in a few words: Durable, dependable, and great mileage.

Warranty: 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, 2 years/24,000 miles of free maintenance and roadside assistance.

Manufacturers website: http://www.vw.com/en/models/passat/gallery.html

Dealers: We have great dealers for all VW products in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, and Los Angeles.