Long-Term Review

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI: The Technology Gap

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Certified 2014 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T Sport
Certified 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$16,000
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat SE
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$14,990
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 SEL Premium
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$13,225
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$10,790
RELATED READING
See all Volkswagen Passat articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Basem Wasef September 2014

There's a lot to like about the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL, including its spacious interior, quiet ride and of course, its exceptional fuel economy. But, if there's one area it seems to lag in, it is technological amenities -- especially when compared to the leading midsize sedan contenders.

It Starts With USB -- or Lack Thereof

For most drivers, a car's first technological touchpoint is the connection between its multimedia system and a smartphone. Our top-of-the-line Passat TDI SEL model is equipped with streaming audio Bluetooth that mates rather easily to cell phones and manages multiple users intuitively. However, we found that making a hard connection between a cell phone and the Passat is trickier. While the Passat is equipped with Volkswagen's proprietary MDI connector, our 2014 model car came with a 30-pin output that's only compatible with older iPhones. While most cars offer USB outlets for cell phone charging, the Passat doesn't have any USB options, which led us to shop for an iPhone 5 MDI connector at a Volkswagen dealership. Put off by the $65 asking price -- after all, this is essentially just a short cable -- we took our search to eBay, where we found an equivalent cable that claimed to be a genuine Volkswagen part for $40. The 1-foot-long cable worked well for a couple of months before the connector broke, when it simply became easier to place a self-contained battery charger in the cup holder.

In Other Techy News

Most cars in the midsize segment have a rich list of sophisticated options, but the Passat maintains a conservative, basic approach to technology. Want parking sensors? Even the top trim (SEL) doesn't offer that feature. Looking for a blind spot monitoring system or adaptive cruise control? Forget about finding these in the Passat.

When the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI's multimedia system -- managed by a 6.5-inch touchscreen -- starts up, the backup camera kicks in when the car is in reverse. But, it takes about 12 seconds for the image to appear after you've fired up the engine, which feels like an eternity when you're ready to back out of a parking spot. The image quality isn't particularly sharp, and though the guidelines give an accurate depiction of where the Passat's wheels would hit the curb, they don't turn with the steering wheel. Once you're driving, the car's electronic and multimedia systems are easily managed via steering wheel controls, though reverting back to the touchscreen has occasionally laggy response times. On a positive note, the optional Fender sound system produces rather high quality sound.

Bottom Line: How Much Tech Do You Need?

Cars have become havens for convenience features that make our drives safer and our cars easier to use and more convenient. But, there is a question any car buyer should ask themself: Do I need it?

We're big fans of features like adaptive cruise control, which can make a commute infinitely easier by automatically keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. But at the end of the day, adaptive cruise control is a nice-to-have item that's not necessarily a deal breaker if a car has enough other compelling attributes. In the case of the Passat TDI, though it comes up short on the tech front when compared to other cars in its segment, the Passat's other qualities -- namely its clean design, well-insulated cabin, comfortable seats and impressive fuel economy, at least partially redeem it for its lack of advances. For buyers who can do without the gizmos, the Passat's no-frills personality might be satisfying enough.

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Certified 2014 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T Sport
Certified 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$16,000
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat SE
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$14,990
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 SEL Premium
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$13,225
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
Used 2014 Volkswagen Passat
$10,790
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI: The Technology Gap - Autotrader