2014 Volkswagen Passat Sport Long-Term Update 5
Does Our Passat Have All the Latest In-Demand Tech?
Automakers and auto journalists hear it again and again: Kids these days just aren’t passionate about cars. Smartphone connectivity matters more to them than horsepower or a prestige badge. Well, car buyers of all ages rank technology as very important, according to a recent Detroit Free Press story about automotive customer satisfaction. "Early indications from our upcoming 2015 U.S. Tech Choice Study show that vehicle owner expectations of advanced technology capabilities are growing,” said Renee Stephens, J.D. Power vice president of U.S. automotive surveys. “Owners clearly want the latest technology in their vehicles, and they don't hesitate to express their disapproval when it doesn't work."
So does our long-term Passat have the latest in-demand technology? And how well does it work? In the 1.8T trim, the base Passat S, the Sport, and the Wolfsburg Edition don’t offer touchscreen navigation, hands-free keyless access, or push-button start. For that you’ve got to step up to the Passat SE with Sunroof and Navigation, which is $28,925. (Our Sport’s as-tested price was $28,730.) The description says you get turn-by-turn navigation on a 5-inch color touchscreen display, which is on the small side for nav screens. 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), and it’s reliable and offers a clear view. Yellow guidelines show your rearward path, with a solid horizontal line indicating when you’re getting too close to an object. I don’t like the Passat’s guidelines as much as the ones on my last long-termer, a 2013 Kia Optima SXL, which displayed horizontal lines and vertical path lines in three colors: green for plenty of room, yellow for getting close, and red for the danger zone.
The SiriusXM satellite radio on the Passat has been excellent, cutting out briefly maybe 2 percent of the time. The Optima also had SiriusXM, and it would cut out at the same point on my commute every day for about 3 seconds, and also under some bridges. Knob fans, rejoice -- the Passat lets you can hop from station to station via the left-hand steering wheel buttons, by touching the preset buttons on the touchscreen, by tapping the Scan or Tune buttons on the touchscreen, or by using the tuner knob. The screen displays the station, the artist, and the song in sans serif type that’s plenty big for reading at a glance, even with middle-aged eyes. (Colleague Scott Mortara was irked that his long-term Acura MDX wouldn’t display longer song titles in their entirety, but under my watch the Passat’s screen hasn’t met a song title it couldn’t accommodate.)
A tap of the Media mode button on the right side of the touchscreen switches the entertainment to my Bluetoothed iPhone quickly and easily, again showing the name of the artist and the song title and letting me click forward and backward from song to song using the steering wheel controls, the touchscreen buttons, or the scan knob. (It defaults to whatever playlist I last selected on my iPhone music library.) The audio quality is good -- not crystal-clear high-end, but adequate for my needs. The infotainment system has never untethered itself from my iPhone, something that happened every few weeks in the Optima, though I dislike that the phone plug-in is in the center console. Am I happy with the rearview camera and musical tech in the Passat? Yes. Do I wish the 1.8T Sport had nav as an option? Also yes
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