Passat TDI

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI Review

The best reason not to drive a hybrid.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: October 8th, 2013

While U.S. automakers are just waking up to the potential appeal of diesel, cars like the Chevy Cruze diesel show that the Big Three have a long way to go before they catch up with the Germans when it comes to this unfairly maligned technology. VW's already proven that there's a market for diesels in the U.S. - nearly a quarter of the German automakers U.S. sales last year were diesels - and driving the Passat it's easy to see why. Getting near hybrid-car mileage from a car that doesn't have a hybrid's sticker price is nothing to spit diesel particulates at.

  • On the Road

    Driving the Passat will never be mistaken for a tremendously fun activity, but that's never been the point of this large, semi-luxury car. The Passat is meant to carry passengers in relative comfort and do so sensibly and dependably. There's a tendency among auto journalists to pooh-pooh cars that are simply good cars and aren't specifically made for Nurburgring-flogging fun or status-enhancing flash. Meanwhile, in the real world, drivers care more about safety and fuel economy -- two things that make the average car journo want to drift off into dreams of James Hunt-style debauchery. But the Passat is a fine car. Everything about it is so easy - steering, handling and even shifting if you opt for the manual transmission (which you definitely should) - that it's equally easy to forget what a finely crafted, expertly tuned piece of machinery it is.

  • Exterior

    If we're being kind we'll refer to the Passat's design as "simple." But we're rarely being kind, so the best we can come up with is car-like. The Passat looks like a car, plain and simple. And plain and simple is what the Passat is from the outside. It's not a head-turner, but it looks like a car. And not one of those ugly ones like the Pontiac Aztek or the Nissan Rogue, either. The Passat looks like what you picture when you close your eyes and think "car." Get it in a color other than white or silver if you want it to have any shred of personality, otherwise be content to blend in with the herd.

  • Interior

    The interior of the Passat is only slightly more thrilling than the exterior, but it is nicely appointed. The optional leather is handsome and adds a touch of class, but aside from that the interior is - like all VW interiors - a study in simplicity and ergonomics. There are knobs where there should be knobs and the infotainment system, while graphically stuck in the 1980s, is less horrible than most. Learning all the controls in the Passat is a simple affair and once you've gotten the hang of the nav, the stereo, the power seats, and the Bluetooth, you'll quickly forget what everything looks like. But that's okay because you're supposed to have your eyes on the road anyway.

  • Final Thoughts

    Like the sensible family car it is, the Passat never screams "look at me, listen to me, love me," it just says "use me." It takes you where you want to go in comfort and does it with a level of efficiency only seen from far-less-comfortable hybrid rides. It's an incredibly capable car with an extremely competitive price. That should be enough to make anyone consider it.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder TDI clean diesel

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Power Output: 140 hp / 236 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy: 20 city / 43 highway

    Base Price: $26,295

    Features: RNS 315 touchscreen navigation system, Bluetooth® with audio streaming, Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® cable, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, heated front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, sunroof.

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