The Volkswagen Passat is a perfectly fine midsize sedan. Problem is, it’s in a super competitive segment and there’s nothing that makes it stand out from the pack. Rivals such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Mazda Mazda6 offer nicer interiors, more athletic handling and/or updated tech.
The Passat got refreshed for the 2016 model year. For 2018 the Passat gets a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the new GT trim.
The five-passenger Passat is available in S, R-Line, SE, GT and SEL Premium. Starting prices range from $22,995 to $34,650.
My tester has the base engine, the new 2.0-liter turbo-four that makes 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It delivers quick acceleration and peppy performance, but the Passat is not as athletic as many rivals. The ride is smooth, making the Passat especially nice for cruising on the freeway. It’s also pleasant for driving around town. If you desire more spirited performance, the Passat is probably not the car for you.
For more power, buyers may choose the 3.6-liter V6 that makes 280 horses and 258 pound-feet which is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic and paddle shifters on the steering wheel. However, the V6 requires premium fuel.
Fuel efficiency is below average for midsize sedans. EPA ratings for my tester are 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with a combined rating of 29 mpg. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is attractive with some high quality materials, but there’s also a fair amount of hard plastic. Seats are comfortable, spacious and supportive. The back row can fit even taller adults.
Standard features include a rearview camera, cloth upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat, six-speaker audio system, and the MIB II infotainment system with a five-inch touch screen, one USB port and Bluetooth. The Intelligent Crash Response System is also standard. After airbags deploy, this system unlocks the doors, turns off the fuel pump and turns on the hazard lights.
Available features include keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, sunroof, eight-speaker audio system, a Fender premium audio system, satellite radio, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 6.3-inch touch screen, a second USB port, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.
Optional driver assistance features include forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and park assist.
The infotainment system is feeling a bit dated these days. The five- and 6.3-inch screens are smaller than what you’ll find in many competitors. At least it’s easy to figure out how to use.
The Passat has a lot of trunk space for the class at 15.9 cubic feet. The 60/40 split-folding rear seats provide flexibility in hauling bulky items. The optional hands-free trunk lid is a nice feature.
Comfortable freeway cruiser
Large, comfortable seats
Lots of trunk space
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available
Rivals offer more athletic handling
Interior not as nice as rivals
Tech could use updating
Fuel efficiency below average for the class
My tester starts at $31,650. Destination charge is $850 bringing the grand total to $32,500.
Volkswagen has many loyal fans and the Passat will certainly appeal to those buyers. However, the midsize sedan category is so competitive that it’s worth shopping around. It’s easy to find cars that offer better performance, more upscale cabins and updated tech.