2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 5, 2010

Whether as a sedan or wagon, the 2010 Volkswagen Passat handles family business, performing with more grace than most mid-size models, with an understated stylishness shining through.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2010 Volkswagen Passat sedan and wagon to bring you firsthand driving impressions and advice here in this Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com has also researched available road tests on the Passat to produce this conclusive review.

Last year, with the introduction of the new flagship Volkswagen CC sedan, VW simplified the Passat lineup, discontinuing the manual transmission, available V-6 engine, and all-wheel drive and reducing it to a single Komfort model. The Passat remains offered in sedan and wagon models.

From the outside, the 2010 Volkswagen Passat Wagon’s design is more cohesive and attractive than the sedan, with better proportions. There are no exaggerated flares or curves, just sloping lines (the roof) and smooth undulations in the bodywork (wheel arches). Nearly everyone will appreciate the understated opulence of the interior, which mixes softer and more welcoming surfaces and materials than the stark look associated with products from this German brand in the past.

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A 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the only engine offered across the entire Passat lineup; that's fine, as the engine provides good performance and impressive economy with the six-speed automatic transmission. The suspension and steering lend the 2010 Passat a responsive, tossable feel; it handles and maneuvers well, but not as sharply as a sport sedan.

Although the rear door line makes an odd straight cut downward, the door’s unusual shape really helps entry/exit, with the higher roofline on wagons offering some advantages. Most will find the driving position and front seats comfortable in the 2010 Passat, and it has impressive backseat space that rivals some of the roomiest sedans in the mid-size class; it’s especially leg-friendly for lanky adult passengers. In the wagon, there are plenty of storage bins and even an umbrella-storage area. A power liftgate is standard on all wagons—either a welcome convenience or unnecessary complexity, depending on your demands. Rear seatbacks fold forward neatly to expand the cargo floor, which is very convenient with its low lift-in height. Overall, the quality of the materials in the Volkswagen Passat Wagon and Sedan is quite impressive, and the interior layout feels both luxurious and practical. In either version, the ride is very well controlled, perhaps making the Passat more refined inside than many luxury-brand mid-size models, and there's almost no wind or road noise.

The 2010 Passat has a generous list of safety features, but doesn't perform as well as some rivals in crash tests. It gets four-star ratings in frontal impact and four- and five-star results in side impact from the federal government, along with top "good" results in frontal and side tests, plus "marginal" ratings for rear impact from the IIHS. Front side and full-length head/curtain airbags are standard, while side-thorax bags for backseat passengers are optional.

Overall, the lineup of the 2010 Passat is simple. There's one Komfort model, as a sedan or wagon, and just a few option packages on offer. Large 17-inch wheels, along with heated seats and heated washer nozzles, come with all Passats. Other standard equipment includes keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, an eight-speaker sound system, leather steering-wheel trim, manual side sunshades, and a power 12-way driver seat. A Navigation Infotainment Package with touchscreen display, 30GB hard drive, and video DVD playback is optional.

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2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Styling

Although the proportions are conservative and won't be a hit with everyone, the details in the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta are still universally appealing and upscale.

From the outside, the Volkswagen Passat wagon’s design is more cohesive and attractive than the sedan, with better proportions. There are no exaggerated flares or curves, just sloping lines (the roof) and smooth undulations in the bodywork (wheel arches).

Some reviewers, though, aren't big fans of the excessive chrome used on the outside. The Detroit News describes the Passat as “laden with chrome and a too-flashy medallion-shaped grille.” However, Edmunds has positive words, noting the “shiny chrome grille and scooped headlamps,” and declaring, “From the front, the car looks aggressive, from the back it looks more like a roomy family sedan. Sounds contradictory, but it’s actually quite balanced.”

MyRide.com is one of the few sources to claim that the Passat lacks the right proportions, especially from the side, pointing to its “long overhangs at a time when contemporary design demands that the wheels get pushed out to the corners,” but Motor Trend positively gushes, noting the “clean, sleek exterior shape.”

Nearly everyone will appreciate the understated opulence of the Passat's interior, which mixes softer and more welcoming surfaces and materials than the stark look associated with products from this German brand in the past. “The dashboard flows downward from the cowl, creating an open and airy feel to the cabin,” observes MyRide.com, noting the two-tone theme and real aluminum trim and saying that "the Passat is definitely upscale.” Motor Trend appreciates the “simple, orderly cabin that stands apart from some of the flashier competition.” The Detroit News likes the two-tone gray-and-black interior in their test car, which “was more understated than the car's exterior, with carbon-fiber trim touches and just a bit of chrome in places like the shift lever surround.”

“The analog gauges would look at home in a car costing twice as much,” declares Edmunds, “and even its 12-way leather sport seats show design influence from classic Ferraris.”

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8

2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Performance

Provided you don't expect the 2010 Volkswagen Passat to be an all-out sports sedan, you'll be happy with the way it performs…and sips fuel.

A 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the only engine offered across the entire Passat lineup; that's fine, as the engine provides good performance and impressive economy with the six-speed automatic transmission. The suspension and steering lend the 2010 Passat a responsive, tossable feel; it handles and maneuvers well, but not as sharply as a sport sedan.

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. Motor Trend compliments the engine’s smoothness and its 0-60 time of only 6.7 seconds, but mentions that it takes premium fuel only; separately, Motor Trend says the four is one of the strongest in its class and “leaves rivals gasping in its exhaust fumes.”

A six-speed automatic transmission is the only remaining companion with the four-cylinder engine. And while TheCarConnection.com finds it relatively smooth and responsive, not all reviewers agree. MyRide.com says it “feels like it chokes the engine’s smooth power with lagging in low gears.” The transmission has a sport mode, but “the accelerator is touchy and the downshifts are intrusive,” the MyRide.com reviewer notes. Edmunds also points out that they don’t use the Sport mode “partly because the gearchanges and throttle inputs become too abrupt for smooth city driving.”

The 2010 VW Passat is no performance car, but it's enjoyable to drive, with a nimble, light-footed feel on the road. The Detroit News attests that the “electro-mechanical power rack-and-pinion steering system provides good on-center feel and gives the average driver a lot of confidence, especially at highway speeds.” The same reviewer adds, “The Passat is a snap to maneuver, especially in tight parking spaces and U-turns.” “The electro-mechanical steering is sharp and has nice road feel,” says MSN Autos, also complimenting the brakes. Car and Driver asserts the steering “lends this wagon an airy and agile feel that camouflages its 3,492 pounds.” Edmunds labels the steering as “oddly numb on center and unnaturally light,” yet comments 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.” Cars.com seems to like 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.”

The 2010 Passat gets impressive fuel economy. MyRide.com reports, “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.”

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2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Comfort & Quality

Most will discover a high-quality feel in the 2010 Volkswagen Passat, with plenty of space and reasonably good ride quality and refinement.

Although the 2010 Volkswagen Passat isn't the roomiest vehicle in this mid-size class, it has a high-quality European air, yet costs the same as cars with a lot less personality. Ride quality and interior appointments are top-notch as well.

Automobile Magazine declares, “The driver environment is one of affordable luxury: materials are as nice to the touch as they are to the eye, standard equipment is comprehensive, and the colors and surfaces are tastefully blended.” “There’s plenty of room in the cabin, the materials mostly look and feel high-quality,” says Motor Trend. “The Volkswagen human-factors engineers didn’t miss a trick in making the cabin feel as if it has a custom fit,” crows the Detroit News. “Even the front armrest can be adjusted for height.”

“The ergonomics of this vehicle are simply excellent, providing a good driving point of view, helping to keep fatigue at bay, and creating a comfortable environment that’s perfect for long or short trips,” gushes MyRide.com.

Edmunds notes that the leather seats just don’t offer enough lateral support for corners, comparing them to “something you’d find in an Italian furniture store: modern-looking although somewhat uncomfortable.” A MyRide.com reviewer contends that even people of height or girth can be comfortable in the back, though the Detroit News mentions a lack of headroom.

Reviews are mixed with respect to ride quality. Automobile Magazine refers to a “brittle low-speed ride,” while several other reviewers describe the ride quality as firm but relatively compliant. Edmunds says that though the ride is “well damped and appropriately cushy,” road noise is abundant, especially on L.A. freeways. Kelley Blue Book also observes that “while the Passat Wagon very accurately mimics a premium vehicle on many levels, it often isn’t quite as quiet or smooth,” and Cars.com comments, “The wagon’s body structure doesn’t feel as solid as the sedan’s when driving over rough pavement, and both the sedan and wagon I tested were afflicted with a number of interior rattles.”

Regarding the wagon, reviewers rave about the space available—and the versatility. “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 points out, “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.”

Cars.com observes 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 isn’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 notes that the backseat headrests must be removed. Kelley Blue Book praises the low lift-over height and wide opening of the tailgate and mentions the “storage cubbies on the side of the trunk area and six tie down points."

Edmunds calls the interior “beautifully screwed together and richly appointed.” Cars.com says, “Volkswagen’s attention to detail and high-quality materials give the cabin a rich feel.” With the help of the telescoping steering wheel, MyRide.com has no trouble finding a comfortable driving position and notes, “The bucket seats are well padded but firm enough to be supportive, with a lower section that’s plenty long for thigh support but a little light on bolsters (the seatback bolsters are more substantial).” But when some reviewers take a closer look inside, they aren’t all positive. MyRide.com finds a host of issues, including “cupholders that feel as though they were purchased at the 99-cent automotive store, the clickety-clack of the center console compartment lid, and the flimsy hooks for the sun screens.”

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8

2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Safety

Crash-test results aren't a high point for the 2010 Volkswagen Passat, but it offers more safety features than most other mid-size sedans or wagons in this price range.

The 2010 Passat has a generous list of safety features, but doesn't perform quite as well as some rivals in crash tests.

It gets four-star ratings in frontal impact and four- and five-star results in side impact from the federal government, along with top "good" results in frontal and side tests, plus "good" ratings for rear impact from the IIHS.

But the Volkswagen Passat offers a range of safety features virtually unrivalled among mid-size sedans. Front side and full-length head/curtain airbags are standard, while side-thorax bags for backseat passengers are optional. The Detroit News reports that the optional rear side-torso airbags, a $350 option, “supplement the side air curtains by protecting the torso.” CNET adds, “There are seven crash sensors: three internally in the air-bag control unit, two in the front doors, and two in the lower C-pillars.” According to MSN Autos, “The Passat wagon has standard front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags, along with anti-lock brakes.” This is good, they note, because “[m]ost wagons are bought as family vehicles, so buyers pay particular attention to safety items.”

“Though the center rear seat—the best place for a child-safety seat — lacked anchors, it was easy to use an anchor from each outboard seat to tightly secure a child-safety seat,” says Cars.com of the wagon.

CNET finds the optional adaptive front lighting system "very useful at night, as not only do the headlights swivel with the steering to illuminate the road ahead even around corners, but auxiliary cornering lights cover what are too often blind spots to the side with bright light in sharp turns, such as into a driveway.”

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2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Features

The 2010 Volkswagen Passat offers a number of technology features that aren't often found on the options list for affordable mid-size sedans.

Overall, the lineup of the 2010 Passat is simple. There's one Komfort model, as a sedan or wagon, and just a few option packages on offer.

Large 17-inch wheels, along with heated seats and heated washer nozzles, come with all Passats. Other standard equipment also includes keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, an eight-speaker sound system, leather steering-wheel trim, manual side sunshades, and a power 12-way driver seat. A Navigation Infotainment Package with touchscreen display, 30-gigabyte hard drive, and video DVD playback is optional.

MyRide.com praises the generous list of standard equipment in the Passat, including “heated and signaling rearview mirrors, 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, an MP3 player, front-side and side-curtain airbags, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and a host of power features.” Motor Trend looks at the equipment list and concludes that, at about $26,000, the Passat costs more than some of its competitors but still ranks as a strong value. “Extra money buys a nav system, a Bluetooth phone, adaptive cruise control, a heated windshield, and swiveling bi-xenon headlamps,” says Automobile.

Nearly all reviewers cite the umbrella stowed in the door, a feature that MyRide.com muses “owners in Seattle will love,” and the Detroit News mentions “a deep center console that can be heated or cooled with an air outlet.” CNET describes the trunk space as “cavernous,” and Edmunds says, “Storage also benefits from easy-to-operate 60/40-split-folding rear seats with pass-through.” Additionally, Edmunds points out the low and easy access to trunk space and “the cute little insider way of opening the trunk. (Press the VW logo.)”

Several reviews mention the plentiful storage spaces inside the Passat’s cabin, including “two flip-top compartments” that Edmunds remarks “disappear elegantly into the dash and center console.” “The rear seat has excellent amenities," says the Detroit News, “including new air vents with fan control, an ashtray, an armrest with pop-out cupholders and individual, airplane-style reading lights.”

The optional 600-watt, 10-speaker Dynaudio sound system draws comments from all reviewers. “Better than just about anything I’ve ever heard inside an automobile,” says a MyRide.com reviewer. TheCarConnection.com’s editors rank the Dynaudio sound system as one of the top-sounding systems in any new car.

However, 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.” However, the tech experts at CNET give the bright LCD screen of the Passat’s nav system “high marks for visibility,” and notes it's especially easy to enter locations or get directions to secondary destinations.

One area of criticism is the standard “smart key,” which a pessimistic Motor Trend reviewer says “is an obnoxious little rectangle that, instead of being smart enough to talk to the ignition while still in your pocket, requires insertion into a motorized slot that seems to exist only to break one day.”

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April 11, 2016
For 2010 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Rattles and squeeks more than any new car should.

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Not the highest quality car I've owned. My 2004 Camry was much less irratating. Every morning, I hear a squeek as I drive away when the car is moving slow. This is never acceptable especially with just 15k on... + More »
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