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Volkswagen Passat

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The VW Passat is a mid-size sedan that's produced in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at a new VW Group assembly plant. The current Passat is one of the larger entries in a class that also includes the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima. It's without the wagon variant that has accompanied German-made Passats in previous generations. MORE: Read our 2015 VW Passat review for pricing with options... Read More Below »
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New & Used Volkswagen Passat: In Depth

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The VW Passat is a mid-size sedan that's produced in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at a new VW Group assembly plant. 

The current Passat is one of the larger entries in a class that also includes the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima. It's without the wagon variant that has accompanied German-made Passats in previous generations.

MORE: Read our 2015 VW Passat review for pricing with options, specifications, and fuel economy ratings

In the U.S., the Passat's lineage goes all the way back to the Dasher sedans and hatchbacks of the 1970s and the Quantum models of the 1980s—the latter which were, notably, offered with so-called Syncro all-wheel drive.

Whle the Passat name had been used elsewhere on those models, it wasn't until the third generation that the U.S.-market version also adopted the same badge. That model's unique front-end styling did without a conventional grille opening, and the rest of the design was characterized by lots of glass and a low hood; the interior made good use of space for passengers, thanks to the tallish proportions. Though the interior quality didn't surpass that of the less expensive Jetta, the Passat had a comfortable ride, in part thanks to its longer wheelbase. At the beginning of this generation, only low-power 2.0-liter four-cylinders were available, but VW added its narrow-angle VR6 and diesel options later in the cycle.

The next complete redesign the Passat got, in 1998, was revolutionary. VW switched its mid-size sedan to the same platform as the Audi A4, and everything from its ride to its driving manners felt much more upscale and sophisticated—either compared to the previous Passat or to other U.S. rivals like the Camry, Accord, and Taurus. Most Passat models from this era included either a 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter (1.8T) turbo four-cylinder or a 190-hp Audi-derived V-6. Between these two engines, there's surprisingly little difference in acceleration (and it makes the Passat feel more nimble), though the V-6 makes it feel like a luxury car. A short-lived Passat W8 model (2003-2004) featured a special 270-hp narrow-angle eight-cylinder engine, but its $40k+ price tag, heft, and thirst just didn't add up to much appeal. Throughout this generation, 4Motion all-wheel drive was available on most of the model line, too.

For 2006, the Passat changed for the better for Americans, becoming a little roomier and more comfortable, though they bypassed some of the sportier driving feel of their predecessors for refinement and more features for the money. Most of these Passats, which weren't significantly changed through 2010, came with an excellent 200-hp, 2.0-liter (2.0T) four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission (though a six-speed manual was also on offer). A 280-hp, 3.6-liter VR6 engine was offered from 2006-2008, and was required for 4Motion, but it was never a popular choice because it was so much more expensive.

Across the board, this generation of Passat came with a long list of standard features, including standard side-curtain bags, and rear thorax bags were an unusual option. Here at The Car Connection, we found this Passat to be one of the quietest cars in this class, with a roomy backseat and nice interior materials. But a requirement for premium fuel might make these models less appealing as used cars.

The new VW Passat

In mid-2011, a new 2012 Volkswagen Passat was unveiled. With a somewhat larger body style and cost-cut, Americanized packaging, the new made-in-the-U.S. Passat gets a massive rear seat and a noticeable downgrade in refinement. But with a more attractive price of around $25k, we've found the new Passat to be particularly attractive—especially considering its 43-mpg highway rating in turbodiesel form. The Passat does have impressive handling, but at launch, the base five-cylinder engine was dull and somehow not as responsive as base engines in rivals like the Ford Fusion or Hyundai Sonata. A new 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine was introduced in 2014, and for 2015 it became the Passat's base engine when the five-cylinder finally was dropped.

Other launch powertrains included the turbodiesel version, which had good power and exceptional fuel economy, and a V-6 is geared to the few buyers who really want more luxury features in a family sedan. We had a 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI for an extended Six Month Road Test and found it to be an excellent long-distance cruiser—one with real-world highway mileage well into the 40s.

Otherwise the Passat has changed very little over the past several model years. In the current Passat, those those coming from former versions of this sedan (or even Honda Accords) will be troubled by the swaths of grainy plastic, and there's more wind and road noise than we expect. Another thing we've noted of it is the very limited number of build combinations. For instance, you can't get a cloth interior with the TDI engine or VR6, the Bluetooth interface is very basic and lacks voice control. A USB connector is also lacking on the base car -- although VW did add a rearview camera system for 2013. On the 2014 Passat, a Technology Package became more widely available and permits adding the backup camera and touch-screen audio at an affordable price. 

In the 2015 model year, VW swapped out the former turbodiesel for a new design that's slightly more efficient in EPA highway ratings.

Used Volkswagen Passat Models

The Volkswagen Passat has changed significantly with each generation, and each successive redesign has brought what looks and feels like a completely different vehicle. The 2006-2010 Passat was a very well-equipped mid-size sedan (or wagon) with a premium interior and pleasant driving attributes; it cost more new than rival models, but it stands as a great pick used today. The current Passat introduced in 2011 has a different, more American focus—in interior space, comfort, and value for the money.
Volkswagen Passat Related News
 
2013 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition

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The Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition has come and gone throughout the years, but it's always been a value-oriented package that adds popular features to a lower-trim... read more April 23, 2013 by  0


 
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Video Road Test

We've waved goodbye to The Car Connection's first Six-Month Road Test vehicle. But before we let our 2012 VW Passat TDI rejoin its home fleet, one final road trip was in... read more October 26, 2012 by  0


 
2013 Volkswagen Passat

2012 VW Passat Six-Month Road Test: What's Changed For 2013

While we're wrapping up our Six-Month Road Test of our 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI, we've already revised and updated our review for the 2013 model year. Not much has changed... read more October 23, 2012 by  4


 
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2012 VW Passat Six-Month Road Test: A Bigger Back Seat Than A...

After spending the past half-year with our 2012 VW Passat during its Six-Month Road Test, we're pretty familiar with its vast talents. Chief among them: a huge back seat, one... read more October 19, 2012 by  0


 
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test

2012 VW Passat Six-Month Road Test: What Happens When Nothing Happens?

Our VW Passat TDI is entering the home stretch, after more than 7000 miles of trouble-free driving with just a lapsed satellite-radio service and an advanced odometer to show... read more October 10, 2012 by  2


 

Specs: Select a Trim

Style MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Sedan (1)
3.6L V6 DSG SEL Premium Specs $35,660 $34,198 20 28
4-Door Sedan 1.8T Automatic (4)
S Specs $22,220 $21,309 24 35
SEL Premium Specs $31,475 $30,186 24 34
Sport Specs $27,835 $26,694 24 35
Wolfsburg Ed Specs $24,135 $23,145 24 34
4-Door Sedan 1.8T Automatic PZEV (4)
SE w/Sunroof & Nav Specs $27,830 $26,690 24 34
SEL Premium Specs $31,475 $30,186 24 34
Sport Specs $27,835 $26,694 24 35
Wolfsburg Ed Specs $24,135 $23,145 24 34
4-Door Sedan 1.8T Automatic SE (2)
4-Door Sedan 1.8T Automatic SE Specs $26,020 $24,952 24 34
w/Sunroof & Nav Specs $27,830 $26,690 24 34
4-Door Sedan 1.8T Manual (2)
S Specs $21,120 $20,253 24 35
Sport Specs $26,635 $25,543 24 35
4-Door Sedan 1.8T Manual PZEV (2)
S Specs $21,120 $20,253 24 35
Sport Specs $26,635 $25,543 24 35
4-Door Sedan 2.0L (1)
Manual TDI SE Specs $26,825 $25,726 31 43
4-Door Sedan 2.0L DSG TDI (1)
SEL Premium Specs $33,585 $32,208 30 40
4-Door Sedan 2.0L DSG TDI SE w/Sunroof (2)
4-Door Sedan 2.0L DSG TDI SE w/Sunroof Specs $28,840 $27,657 30 40
& Nav Specs $30,545 $29,292 30 40
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