The potential to carry a lot of cargo—and be flexible about combinations of passengers and cargo—while still handling like a passenger car is why many customers are drawn to the 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon. With an extended roofline, low loading height, and handy cargo area, the Wagon allows plenty of cargo versatility, while actually offering better seating space in the way of more headroom, as widely reported by reviewers.
“The low, wide cargo opening allows fast loading of plenty of cargo,” says MSN Autos. “If more space is needed, the rear seats fold completely forward to provide an impressively large cargo area.”
Kelley Blue Book praises the low lift-over height and wide opening, and mentions the “storage cubbies on the side of the trunk area and six tie down points.” The reviewer continues: “Fold the rear split bench seat and you’ve got a nearly flat load floor, and the electric tailgate is a big bonus when your hands are full.” However, MSN Autos remarks, “The rather slow-moving power tailgate is handy if your arms are full of groceries, but not so welcome if you must stand in pouring rain waiting for it to fully open.”
Cars.com says that flipping down the seats and expanding the cargo floor effectively doubles the cargo space, to 35.8 cubic feet with the backseats up, but folding them down wasn’t quite as easy as it should be, because the front seat can’t be in its rearmost position when doing so. “The extra step of flipping up the seat cushion means that tall drivers will have to give up some space in order to make room for the backrest to fold down.” The reviewer warns that most owners may end up folding the backrest without flipping down the lower cushion to “avoid the burdensome part of that dance.” Car and Driver also notes that the backseat headrests must be removed.
Several reviewers gripe about the standard (and mandatory) key fob system. Car and Driver says that “the monster key fob was slow to unlock doors and doubled as the ignition key, at which job it proved as fussy as a two-year-old with damp diapers.”
Most reviewers are impressed with the number of cubbies and storage spaces, and latch on to several innovative features. “Neat features include an electronic key and electronic push-button parking brake, plus a cleverly placed umbrella holder and two cooled storage compartments,” says Kelley Blue Book. “A large, lined cubby on the lower left dash proves handy for holding a variety of items, and pop-out card slots located above the radio can accommodate smaller belongings.”
“All Passat wagons are fairly well-equipped, with such features as air conditioning, cruise control and power windows, (heated) outside mirrors and door locks with remote keyless entry,” reports MSN Autos.
ForbesAutos singles out the adaptive headlamps that “pivot to illuminate the road through curves at night,” and the “premium Dynaudio sound system that’s custom designed for Volkswagen,” and Cars.com praises the system’s “strikingly clear, rich sound,” noting its $1,000 price. “Other options include adaptive bi-xenon headlights that swivel in concert with the steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers and front and rear parking sensors that emit an audible warning tone when approaching an object,” says Cars.com.
Reviewers aren’t quite as positive about the optional DVD-based navigation system, which Cars.com calls “more difficult to use than Toyota’s system in the Camry,” and Edmunds finds “a bit lethargic.”
TheCarConnection.com notes the vast price gap between the four-cylinder models, which start in the mid 20s, and well-optioned VR6 models, which can top $40,000. If you can forgo some of the high-tech equipment—and the wondrous Dynaudio system—the former is an excellent deal.