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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
“Nail the throttle, and a two-part dance ensues”
Car and Driver
“a lot of fun whether the road is coiled or straight”
“The electro-mechanical steering is sharp and has nice road feel”
The 2009 Volkswagen Passat Wagon’s powertrain moves this hauler briskly, but reviewers feel it lacks the goods to have fun with the curviest roads.
Car and Driver has no complaints about the Passat Wagon’s pep in around-town driving, but the reviewer is critical about the lack of smoothness when the accelerator is mashed to the floor. “Nail the throttle, and a two-part dance ensues: a molasses-slow waltz up to 2800 rpm, then a turbocharged tango to redline, with the front tires chirping and clawing and evincing a dollop of torque steer.” Car and Driver notes that the four-cylinder wagon can get to 60 mph in only 7.2 seconds, making it faster than a V-6 Ford Fusion. Most, however, are satisfied with the power available from the 2.0T engine. “The 2.0-liter turbo is arguably the automaker’s best all-around engine in terms of bang for the buck,” opines ForbesAutos, assessing its “acceptable power and impressive fuel economy.”
Even though the four-cylinder isn’t overtly sporty, it’s fun to drive because of its light-footed feel on the road. “The electro-mechanical steering is sharp and has nice road feel,” says MSN Autos, also complimenting the brakes. Cars.com likes the light steering feel, as well, remarking that “it feels like the wheel is connected directly to a giant ball bearing; it’s that smooth, and wouldn’t be out of place in a Lexus sedan.” However, the reviewer maintains that “steering feedback has largely been eliminated.”
Car and Driver asserts the steering “lends this wagon an airy and agile feel that camouflages its 3,492 pounds.” Edmunds also labels the steering as “oddly numb on center and unnaturally light,” yet they comment positively that “turn-in is crisp and its stability noteworthy.” Car and Driver adds, “The effort is low at all speeds, there’s no kickback, interstate tracking is exemplary, and path control is, well, German.”
MSN Autos remarks that the Passat doesn’t give up on its European roots, contending that it “probably would do well cruising at 100-plus mph on no-speed-limit German autobahns.” MyRide.com says “the Passat Wagon tackles the road with surprising dexterity. The responsive steering doesn’t hurt, either. To be sure, there’s some body roll when pushed hard, as one might expect from a front-wheel-drive family hauler, but all in all this VW proves to be a lot of fun whether the road is coiled or straight.”
When it comes to fuel economy, MyRide.com reports impressive figures: “While traveling between southern California and Las Vegas, we recorded between 25 and 31 mpg depending on how far we bent the speed limit signs.”
Complaints seem to focus on the automatic transmission that isn’t, to some, responsive enough to take advantage of the engines’ torque and responsiveness. “What’s worst about the Passat is its Japanese six-speed automatic,” says Car and Driver. “It’s slow to kick down yet, under part throttle, is lightning fast to upshift to fifth. Or sixth. You’re too often reminded that summoning the appropriate gear will take a while.”
According to Edmunds, “Much of the Passat’s thrust can be credited to its tightly geared six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a Tiptronic, so manual shifting is available should you feel racy, but we seldom felt the need.” Edmunds also notes that they don’t use the Sport mode “partly because the gearchanges and throttle inputs become too abrupt for smooth city driving.”
Acceleration and handling in the 2009 Volkswagen Passat Wagon are better than you'd expect in such a family-friendly vehicle; it's fuel-efficient, too.