Shopping for a new Volkswagen Passat?
GET A FREE PRICE QUOTE
Save this car now, and view it in your Showroom!Save to My Showroom
Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
4-Door Sedan 3.6L V6 DSG SEL PremiumPremium Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L
Front Wheel Drive
|$ 34,198||$ 35,660|
4-Door Sedan 2.0L Manual TDI SEIntercooled Turbo Diesel I-4, 2.0 L
Front Wheel Drive
|$ 25,726||$ 26,825|
4-Door Sedan 2.0L DSG TDI SE w/SunroofIntercooled Turbo Diesel I-4, 2.0 L
Front Wheel Drive
|$ 27,657||$ 28,840|
4-Door Sedan 2.0L DSG TDI SE w/Sunroof & NavIntercooled Turbo Diesel I-4, 2.0 L
Front Wheel Drive
|$ 29,292||$ 30,545|
The 2015 Volkswagen Passat is the brand's generously proportioned mid-size sedan. The Passat is the model that took VW firmly into the mainstream of the U.S. market after a 2012 redesign. It's also VW's first U.S.-built vehicle in a quarter of a century, and it combines that distinctly U.S. virtue--lots of interior space--with the allure of German engineering to offer Volkswagen its strongest-ever entry in a very competitive class.
Now in its fourth year, with a mid-cycle refresh to come next year, the 2015 Passat gets only incremental changes: a pair of new engines, one turbocharged gasoline and one TDI diesel, plus an optional technology package combining a premium infotainment system with the rearview camera that's fitted to all models except the base S.
The Passat faces off against the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry, among other mid-sized four-doors. It's a category where the difference between winners and losers is decided by a handful of critical factors: space, price, and safety. The Passat makes a good argument that growing out of its Euro roots and into a new larger size, and becoming selectively more American in the process, has made a car that can get beyond the company's traditional niche.
The familiar design of the Passat will reassure VW fans. The look of today's model is pure VW, although a tame rendition as a result of its general bigness and an obvious decision not to rock the boat. But the styling goes far in slimming down the Passat's bulk, particularly in its slim grille. Inside it's Volkswagen at its most cleanly rendered, with a layout of controls that's almost stark compared to the chaos of lines and surfaces found in some of its competition.
There are some parts of the interior with less appealing finishes than German-made VW sedans from the past, but they're at least on par with base versions of other popular family sedans. The interior's only real quirk is a steering wheel that's slightly off-center compared to the driver's seat. This is an artifact of a smaller architecture being stretched in width to create the commodious Americanized Passat, and it's one drivers can quickly learn to live with.
The Passat's road manners are as close to the VW standard as they can be, given the long wheelbase and overall stretched proportions. Minor differences in feel among models are due to differing tire sizes. Still, the Passat is a large car, so it's not nimble in the strictest sense of the word--it just carries its size well. All models have a very comfortable suspension that soaks up highway miles, cushy but not floaty with a perfect balance that allows it to handle well when you get into tighter turns.
For 2015, the Passat's base engine becomes a likable new 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Introduced on certain models for 2014, the 1.8T now takes over completely for an old naturally aspirated base 2.5-liter. The new engine has the same power output (170 hp) and slightly more torque than the ancient 2.5-liter, but the turbo four's peak torque shows up earlier and stays longer--while it revs much more sweetly. It's our backup choice for those who aren't interested in VW's slower but gold-star-efficient turbodiesel, also entirely new for 2015.
The Passat TDI's eager off-the-line torque comes with fuel-economy ratings of 35 mpg combined if you get the manual gearbox--itself an unusual option in a mid-size sedan--or 34 mpg if you get the optional dual-clutch automatic for easier city driveability. Highway ratings for the two models are 44 and 42 mpg respectively, and they're only surpassed in the mid-size segment by hybrid-electric sedans. Finally, there's also a gasoline 3.6-liter V-6 option with 280 horsepower and a more muscular attitude, but it seems opulent and indulgent in such a restrained, value-conscious car.
The Passat's gained its family-sedan status in one big way. The rear seat is huge, bigger than the bench in a Hyundai Azera or a Toyota Avalon, with the kind of ease of entry and exit we're used to getting in an extended-wheelbase luxury car. The trunk's also pretty vast.
The Passat has also earned excellent safety scores, both from the NHTSA and the IIHS, and it offers a rearview camera on some models. It remains shy of some infotainment and luxury features, either altogether or specifically on some models and combinations. Want a base Passat TDI with cloth seats, satellite radio, and a USB port? It doesn't exist. The Passat S doesn't have rear-seat air vents. Leather is more widely available now, though the synthetic stuff on most models does a convincing job. With so many available trim levels, you have to make some compromises to get most of the options you want.
We're sold on the packaging, but when it comes to a specific Passat, the TDI is the hands-down winner. For about $26,000 base, you'll get a sedan with about 700 miles of driving range on a tank of fuel, limousine-like rear-seat room, and a dash of Volkswagen handling brio. If those attributes top your shopping list for a new family sedan, the Passat rules--even though there may be better values, better lookers, and better straight-line performers out there.
- Expansive rear seat
- Excellent turbodiesel fuel economy
- Minimalist styling that should endure
- Ride and handling a cut above
- Strong safety scores
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Styling can be plain to some
- Still some grainy plastic trim
- Road and wind noise are noticeable
- Gaps in the features and options lists