- Responsive and refined engines
- Attractive, well-appointed and refined interior
- A more fuel-efficient alternative to SUVs
- All-wheel drive only offered with V-6
- Premium fuel is recommended
- Pricey VR6 models can top $40,000
With its especially roomy, versatile, and quiet interior and especially powerful and refined powertrains, the 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon is a great family alternative to an SUV.
Volkswagen’s especially roomy Passat Wagon gets some new tech features, like Adaptive Cruise Control, for 2008, along with simplified trim levels: Turbo, Komfort, Lux, and VR6.
A 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive are included in the appropriately named VR6 models; all the other 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon models come with a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Most drivers will be happy with the perky performance of the four-cylinder engine, which is very responsive with either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 comes only with the six-speed Tiptronic automatic and is somewhat faster, though the fuel economy penalty is significant. The base Turbo model is now the only Wagon that can be outfitted with the manual gearbox.
The interior layout of the 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon feels both luxurious and practical, and the quality of the materials is quite impressive. There are plenty of interior storage bins, and even an umbrella-storage area. The Passat Wagon has ample backseat legroom for lanky adults. Although the rear door line makes an odd straight cut downward, the door’s unusual shape really helps entry/exit. And in the Wagon, the backseats fold forward flat to greatly expand the cargo floor, which is easier to load than SUVs because of its low lift height. On that note, a power liftgate is standard on all Wagon models, but it seems an unnecessary feature.
Compared to a compact sport-utility vehicle or a mid-size sedan, the 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon is one of the quietest vehicles inside, allowing almost no road or wind noise. The ride is very well controlled, and it’s perhaps more refined inside than many luxury-brand mid-size models.
The new 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon handles and maneuvers well but without sharp sport-sedan reflexes. The suspension and the steering are tuned differently depending on which engine is under the hood, and the four-cylinder models have a more responsive, tossable feel.
All 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagons include keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, and an eight-speaker sound system; leather steering-wheel trim, manual side sunshades, and a power 12-way driver seat are also standard. The Komfort edition wears larger 17-inch wheels and optional seat heaters, while the Lux edition includes a multifunction three-spoke steering wheel and an optional Dynaudio sound system. The VR6 edition gets heated washer nozzles, optional bi-xenon adaptive headlights, and adaptive cruise control.
The Passat Wagon has done reasonably well in crash tests, with four-star ratings in frontal impact and four- and five-star results in side impact from the federal government, along with "marginal" ratings for rear impact from the IIHS. Front side and full-length head/curtain airbags are standard; side airbags for backseat passengers—a safety feature that’s rare in any vehicle—are optional on the 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon.