Friday, March 14, 2014

Sans flash, VW's Passat has a lot to like

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at www.sacbee.com/business

Sacramento, California – The Volkswagen Passat sedan makes its way onto a lot of “most liked” lists, and it’s easy to see why.

It comes in nearly 20 trim levels available, is generously equipped, comes off as peppy but with good fuel mileage, is comfortable and it’s affordable four-door transportation for families.  What’s not to like?

Even the comparatively high starting price of $31,715 for my upper-end 2014 Passat SEL Premium was hard to argue with, given all that comes with it.  That included plentiful safety features and standard comfort/convenience perks like power/heated front seats and exterior mirrors, leather surfaces and a rearview camera system.

Styling is fairly simple for the latest Passat, but again, I can’t argue with that because the car is a solid sedan offering with no over-the-top attempts to make it look like an Infiniti sport-sedan or a some random Corvette offspring.

Is this formula sounding familiar?  Yeah, think Camry.  Or Malibu.  Sell the world a sensible sedan, and they’ll bring bags of cash to your doorstep.

For me, where the Passat really excelled beyond the median was in performance, thanks to a 1.8-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque.

This particular power plant dished out responsiveness and performance at a most-pleasing level.  I found the turbo engine particularly helpful in negotiating crowded city streets.  Some turbos don’t like this chore, and there is lag time trying to work your way through the traffic maze.

Not so, this Passat.

And yet, check out the fuel mileage figures: 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.  Pretty impressive with a zippy turbo under the hood.

And 34 mpg makes for few stops on long road trips on freeways.

Cabin quietness was pretty good.  Three adults in the back seat did indeed feel a bit cramped, but the interior cabin is an easy comfort zone for four folks.

The Passat might not have enough flash for some folks, but it has so much of everything else that people look for in a passenger car that you walk away asking, “Who really needs flash, anyway?”

VW continues to emerge as a giant auto-making force on the planet, making progress in multiple international markets.  When you know how to make a good car, like the Passat, success comes naturally.

 

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