See exclusive deals in your area
- Massive interior
- Conservative, quality feel
- Good ride quality
- Lots of standard safety tech
- Totally devoid of personality
- V-6 is very thirsty
- Some cheap bits inside
- Could a mid-size sedan be less interesting?
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat does little wrong, but its stoicism means it isn’t much fun.
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat is a mid-size sedan that’s heavy on practicality but light on personality. It’s roomy, powerful, and well-equipped with advanced safety tech, but the Passat was designed to check boxes and not to thrill consumers.
We’ve rated the 2018 Passat at 6.7 out of 10 points. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, a larger, more powerful turbo-4 is standard on most Passat trim levels. A new Passat GT variant adds some—but not too much—spice to the lineup and the automaker has shuffled around some standard and optional equipment on each trim level.
The Passat lineup consists of S, SE, SEL, GT, and R-Line trim levels. Most Passats you’ll find on dealer lots have a new 2.0-liter inline-4 engine under their hoods. This turbocharged engine puts out 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and it shuttles power to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Optional on the Passat SEL and standard on the Passat GT is a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 280 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque also paired to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive.
We’ve driven Passats and we’ve driven other VWs with the new turbo-4, but we’ve not had the opportunity to pair the two together. In other VWs, the engine is smooth and responsive, but given the sedan’s 3,300-pound curb weight, acceleration likely will be adequate rather than fast. The V-6 is much stronger, but also much thirstier at 22 mpg combined versus 29 for the inline-4.
The Passat’s steering is light but responsive and its chassis delivers a firmer ride than some more softly sprung rivals. Don’t confuse that with sportiness, but the Passat is composed and confidence-inspiring on a curvy road.
Where the Passat really excels is inside. Although sized a little narrow compared to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the Passat’s interior boasts true stretch-out room in the back seat and mostly high-grade materials. A nearly 16 cubic-foot trunk is another asset.
At the entry level, the Passat S can feel basic—it lacks the heated seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, and keyless ignition we’ve come to expect at around $24,000. Rivals mostly offer more for less. Higher-spec Passats are more loaded, and they’re a better value for the money. In our eyes, the sweet spot is the Passat SE at about $27,000 with its standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, synthetic leather upholstery, moonroof, CarPlay/Android Auto, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Every trim is available with automatic emergency braking and the Passat has generally scored well in crash-testing.