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2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport Long-Term Verdict

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/24/2015 Motor Trend Staff, Emiliana Sandoval

When the Volkswagen Passat got redesigned for model year 2012, we were so impressed with the larger, American market-focused VeeDub that we named it our Car of the Year. Two years later, the Passat is essentially the same Chattanooga-crafted B7-generation car but with a new turbo engine. How is the family-friendly sedan holding up? Quite well, and the new engine is icing on the cake.

We chose to spend our year and a half of commuting and road-tripping with the Sport Edition, a new-for-2014 trim that slots below the 1.8T SEL Premium. The Sport-iness is mostly cosmetic — there isn't a new sport suspension or stiffer anti-roll bars or sportier gearing. The trim comes standard with Candy White exterior paint with a contrasting black roof; foglights with low-speed corner illumination; stainless steel pedal covers made to look like brushed aluminum; V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces (it's vegan!); heated front seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and brake lever (not vegan); heated side mirrors; a rear spoiler; and 19-inch Luxor alloy wheels with all-season tires, among other features. The only option box we checked was for a set of heavy-duty MojoMats, which would be useful in the muddy Snow Belt but remained unused in the trunk, and a heavy-duty trunkliner with CarGo blocks that stick to the fuzzy trunk floor to keep groceries and other cargo from sliding around. Cost for the mats and blocks: $235.

2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport Long-Term Verdict

Now for what you really want to know, judging from Interweb comments: How is the new engine? VW replaced the 2013's 2.5-liter inline-five, which made 170 hp and 177 lb-ft, with a 1.8-liter, turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder making the same horsepower and 7 additional lb-ft of torque. Our 2012 COTY Passat with the old engine clocked a 9.0-second 0-60 time, and the 2014 Sport nailed it in 7.9 seconds. Then and now, quarter-mile times were 16.8 seconds at 83.8 mph and 16.0 seconds at 87.3 — plenty quick for everyday, around-town driving. The 1.8T's two available transmissions are a five-speed manual and a six-speed auto with Tiptronic paddle shifters and Sport mode, and that's the one we got.

The peppy engine pulls strongly enough to make at-speed highway merging effortless. The throttle response is solid, with barely any hesitation, the steering is nicely responsive, and the Passat corners decently for a midsize sedan. I always drove it in Sport mode, where it more accurately mimicked how I'd shift if I were driving a manual and chose the appropriate gear more quickly, as it tended to hunt a bit in the lower gears in regular mode. There are paddle shifters if you're so inclined, but I rarely used them. There was a surprisingly pleasurable growl at the power peak (4,800 rpm), but the road noise within the cabin was 20 percent too loud in my estimation. (Of course my standards are unfairly high, having driven some exquisitely quiet and ridiculously expensive luxury cars.) Sometimes when exiting the freeway downhill to my street, I thought I had a back window open — the din was that obvious.

Everyone who drove the Passat made note of its grabby brakes. To get the engine to start you had to forcefully smoosh the brake down, yet when it was in motion, the lightest tap sent all 3,309 pounds of car pitching to an abrupt halt, the pedal hesitating a bit on the floor before releasing back up. Associate online editor Alex Nishimoto took the VW on a road trip to Utah and noted: "You get used to the brake feel eventually, but if you get into another car and come back, it takes time to find the pedal's sweet spot again. Also, the brakes squeal when cold." The brakes never felt unsafe, though, just lurchy. I drove our long-term GTI home one night to compare its brakes, and while they were on the touchy side, they were nowhere near as prickly.

Our 2012 COTY story lauded the exterior design as tasteful, restrained, and subtle, and that description still holds. It's like a white button-down shirt — not flashy but classic and appropriate for almost any occasion. Is it eye-catchingly exciting? No, but the Passat is due for a refresh, so perhaps it'll get snazzed up then. The interior design is also clean and classy, with good placement of knobs and buttons. I would've preferred a sunroof, push-button start, and a navigation system, but those aren't options on the Sport trim level. The Sport does have a standard reverse camera (it's a $695 add-on for the non-Sport-model 1.8T and the Wolfsburg edition, standard on the SE and SEL Premium). The Bluetooth connection for my iPhone worked very well, never once cutting out or unpairing itself. I disliked that the charger provided was for an iPhone 5 or newer, as I have a 4, and that the cord was short, meaning I had to keep the phone tucked away inside the center console if I wanted to charge it. The 5-inch color touchscreen is a good one, responding quickly to finger taps and displaying information in a sans serif typeface that was large enough to read easily at a glance. The Passat came standard with six months of Car-Net, a system that has automatic crash notification if an airbag is deployed, provides access to VW's Emergency Response Center via an SOS button, and summons roadside assistance via a wrench icon button. I didn't need any of that, thankfully.

The Passat's interior roominess is a huge plus, as families usually come with baggage. With 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room, the trunk is nearly a cubic foot larger than the trunk in the Honda Accord. I was able to fit the unboxed components for an Ikea couch in the trunk and back seat with room to spare, and split-folding rear seats adjust the capacity to your cargo. For human cargo, the back seat is limolike, making the Passat the ride of choice for many MT staff lunch trips, and fellow copy editor Jesse Bishop even slept on it for a couple nights after a tent mishap. While he doesn't recommend making a regular practice of snoozing for 8 hours back there, he said it wasn't bad once he found a comfortable position. I enjoyed the driver's seat, especially the adjustable lumbar support, but disliked that there was no memory function to save my seating position, as I'm short and have to make a lot of adjustments. The front seats are on the narrow side, so if you're bulky, that might be an issue.

The 18.5-gallon fuel tank takes regular gasoline — praise be. Nishimoto and I both saw around 500 miles per tank on our western road trips. The Sport is EPA rated at 24/34/28, and our Real MPG testing came in at an overall 28.8 mpg. (The 2.5-liter automatic was EPA rated at 22/31/25.)

VW advises the first service visit at 10,000 miles, and 2014 VWs fall under the Carefree Maintenance program, which comps all routine maintenance for two years and 20,000 miles. The Passat made only one uneventful dealership visit in its time with us, for its 10K oil change, inspection, and tire rotation. For the 2015 model year the program changed to only the 12 months/10,000 miles visit, and Passat consumers can purchase Volkswagen Care coverage for $149 that covers the 2 year/20,000 and 3 year/30,000 maintenance visits, or add the 4 year/40,000 and 5 year/50,000 visits with Volkswagen Care Plus for $569. The maintenance costs for our long-term 2014 Mazda6 came in at $178.96 for two visits, and our long-term 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5L SL totaled $204.92 for two services. Our 2013 Honda Accord Sport required $209.42 for two visits.

I did have one electronic glitch — three times during 100-plus-degree weather the tire pressure alert came on, even though the tires were at the right pressure — but by the time the service visit took place, it had stopped happening.

On the family-hauling front, or for hauling stuff in general, the Passat still gets good grades, and the new engine earns it extra credit until the refresh.

More on our long-term 2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport:


Our Car
SERVICE LIFE13 mo / 17,438 mi
BASE PRICE$28,495
OPTIONSMojoMats, trunk liner, and CarGo storage blocks ($235)
PRICE AS TESTED$28,730
AVG ECON/CO227.0 mpg / 0.72 lb/mi
PROBLEM AREASNone
MAINTENANCE COST$0 (1-oil change, inspection, tire rotation)
NORMAL-WEAR COST$0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*$12,929
RECALLSTransmission fluid cooler O-rings, engine fuel-delivery rail
*Automotive Lease Guide data


2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPETurbocharged I-4, iron block/alum head
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT109.7 cu in/1,798cc
COMPRESSION RATIO9.6:1
POWER (SAE NET)170 hp @ 4,800 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)184 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
REDLINE6,000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER19.5 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO3.87:1/2.59:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO16.4:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK3.0
BRAKES, F;R12.3-in vented disc; 10.7-in disc, ABS
WHEELS8.0 x 19-in, cast aluminum
TIRES235/40R19 92H M+S Continental ContiProContact
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE110.0 in
TRACK, F/R62.1/61.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT191.6 x 72.2 x 58.5 in
TURNING CIRCLE36.4 ft
CURB WEIGHT3,309 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R59/41%
SEATING CAPACITY5
HEADROOM, F/R38.3/37.8 in
LEGROOM, F/R42.4/39.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R56.9/57.0 in
CARGO VOLUME15.9 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.5 sec
0-404.0
0-505.6
0-607.9
0-7010.5
0-8013.4
0-9017.0
PASSING, 45-65 MPH4.4
QUARTER MILE16.0 sec @ 87.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH118 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.85 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.0 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH2,050 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE$28,495
PRICE AS TESTED$28,730
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROLYes/yes
AIRBAGSDual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY18.5 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON24/34/28 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY140/99 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS0.70 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB25.0/35.4/28.8 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded regular

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