Going to Las Vegas is fun. The nightlife, gambling and debauchery get most of the credit, but as long as we're in the right car we even enjoy the 265-mile drive from Kelley Blue Book headquarters in Irvine, California.
What's the right car? To each his own, but we prefer something with a comfortable highway ride, robust infotainment system, good gas mileage and enough horsepower to tackle some of the long inclines without struggle. Considering we've made the trip more times in the past year than Carrot Top has had plastic surgery, our palate for this particular route is particularly refined.
On our most recent trip to the desert, we drove the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL and came away very impressed. In the 500-plus miles that were added to the clock over the weekend, we consistently averaged the EPA estimated fuel economy of 32 mpg -- although we would have traded away a little fuel economy for a little more passing power.
Our Passat SEL included sport seating, navigation, remote start and a Fender Premium Audio system, but no sunroof. The interior quality was very refined (arguably the best in its class), the seats were comfortable and the navigation system was intuitive and nicely laid-out -- although we occasionally experienced some frustrating lag while maneuvering through menus. The Fender sound system gets our undoubted approval and was downright sublime -- we're sure Jimi Hendrix would have loved it.
As equipped, our Passat SEL comes in at just under $30,000, which is fairly priced in comparison to comparably equipped competitors - new territory for the historically pricey Passat. After our little weekend getaway was all said and done, we can definitely say that it's worth every penny.