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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
Five stars overall; five stars, front and side impacts; four stars, rollover
Top Safety Pick; 'good' in all tests except small front overlap, where it scores 'acceptable'
Space up front is generous and the thin A-pillars make for good visibility.
The Passat does well in crash testing, while its safety-feature set isn't quite on the cutting edge that many mid-size sedans have moved to.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) puts the Passat on its Top Safety Pick list, which means it achieves 'good' scores on all but the small front overlap test. The Passat gets an 'acceptable' rating on that one. Its lack of automatic braking capability keeps it from Top Safety Pick+ status.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the sedan an overall rating of five stars, with only a four-star rating for rollover resistance keeping it from a perfect score. (Most sedans are rated four stars in that mathematical test.)
Visibility is one of the Passat's strongest safety attributes. The large glass areas, fold-down rear headrests, and slim roof pillars give drivers a nearly panoramic view of the world around them.
Standard equipment on all Passats, apart from the usual airbags and stability control, includes a hill-holder function for manual-transmission models, and Bluetooth, which we consider a safety feature. A rearview camera is now standard on the Passat SE and higher trim levels, and optional on the Passat S and Wolfsburg models.
The Passat still lacks the advanced tech features becoming more common on other family sedans--new assistants like front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitors. A new service, Car-Net, offers emergency services like those on GM's OnStar system, with stolen-car tracking, speed limits, and remote unlocking, all accessible via a smartphone app.
The 2015 VW Passat earns good safety ratings and was an IIHS Top Safety Pick last year; the rearview camera is now offered on every model.