2021 Volkswagen Passat

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
February 12, 2021

Buying tip

Stick with the value play in the base S model.

features & specs

2.0T R-Line Automatic
2.0T S Automatic
2.0T SE Automatic
MPG
24 city / 36 hwy
MPG
24 city / 36 hwy
MPG
24 city / 36 hwy
MSRP
$29,995
MSRP
$23,995
MSRP
$26,995

The 2021 Volkswagen Passat base model offers good value at a time when new car prices are spiking.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Volkswagen Passat? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Volkswagen Passat is a mid-size sedan not long for this world. Volkswagen plans to phase out U.S. production for the ID.4 electric crossover in the next two years. For now, it competes with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, and Subaru Legacy.   

Is the 2021 Volkswagen Passat a good car?

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In the sense that it can be had for a good price, yes. It earns a TCC Rating of 5.7 out of 10 for its value and standard safety and convenience features, but its touchscreen and powertrain are behind the times. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Volkswagen Passat?

The 2021 lineup loses the SEL trim, so only the S, SE, and R-Line remain, but they come with adaptive cruise control that joins other standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors. 

The staid interior gets freshened for 2021 with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter, and brake handle. Otherwise, the Passat remains the same since last year’s refresh, with a creased hood and slotted grille in a clean but conservative style that pops a bit more when riding on the R-Line’s 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. 

Under that creased hood is the same 174-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 with an outmoded 6-speed automatic sending power to the front wheels. It’s not so efficient at 28 mpg combined, but it rides smoothly. 

Roomy front seats come in cloth, synthetic leather, or leather, but the small 6.3-inch touchscreen gets swallowed by cheap plastic. That’s too bad because VW equips other models with more cutting-edge tech. 

How much does the 2021 Volkswagen Passat cost?

The 2021 Passat starts at $24,990, including destination, and the R-Line tops out at $30,990. 

Where is the 2021 Volkswagen Passat made?

In Chattanooga, Tennessee.

5

2021 Volkswagen Passat

Styling

The 2021 Passat looks better on the outside than inside.

Is the 2021 Volkswagen Passat a good-looking car?

Yes, on the outside. Last year’s refresh graced it with a long chrome brow stretching into LED headlights that send a character line down the body to the rear LED taillights and big block-lettered badge on the trunk. There’s nothing flashy here, even with the R-Line upgrades, but it’s a cohesive if not conservative design that looks good. It earns a point, but the dowdy interior muffles that point. It’s a 5. 

The inside wears black, but cheap black, with grained plastic or fake wood on higher trims, and all that black plastic swallows the small touchscreen. The buttons and dials on the stack are neat and orderly in the German way, but overall it’s too plain to be anything else.

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5

2021 Volkswagen Passat

Performance

The 2021 Passat’s turbo-4 is fine, but the transmission strains.

How fast is the Volkswagen Passat?

The 2.0-liter turbo-4 that powers so many Volkswagens makes 174 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque in the Passat. It routes power through a 6-speed automatic transmission that has a tall 2nd gear that shifts abruptly out of 1st and hesitates once in 2nd and beyond. 

The Passat prioritizes comfort over quickness, with a 0-60 mph time in the mid seven seconds, and with front struts and a multilink rear suspension that smooth out some road surfaces. Steering is good, lightening up at slow speeds such as when parking, and providing more resistance and better precision in more spirited driving. 

In all, it’s a 5. 

Is the Volkswagen Passat 4WD?

No, it’s front-wheel drive only.

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6

2021 Volkswagen Passat

Comfort & Quality

Good room for passengers and cargo in the 2021 Volkswagen Passat offsets the basic interior.

The Passat’s 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space is deep and wide enough to handle multiple sets of golf clubs. That’s worth a point, but the rest isn’t worth any bonus points. It’s a 6. 

There’s good room inside, with backseat riders stretching out to an above-average 39.1 inches of rear leg room. Front seat riders lean into supportive manual seats shod in cloth, with power driver’s seat standard on SE and R-Line trims. We’d skip the leather upcharge, even though the standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter is a nice upgrade for a cabin awash in hard plastic and fake wood.

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6

2021 Volkswagen Passat

Safety

The 2021 Passat avoids lower-speed crash tests and withstands higher-speed ones.

How safe is the Volkswagen Passat?

The IIHS rated it “Good” in all six crash tests, but hasn't rated it for pedestrian avoidance. The NHTSA gave the 2018 model five stars, but hasn't tested it recently. It’s a 6. 

New for 2021, adaptive cruise control joins automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts as standard driver-assist systems. Passat safety tech can also apply the brakes so the affected car won’t ricochet into another car. In other situations, it can shut off the fuel pump, unlock the doors, and activate the hazard lights.

Mid-grade SE models get active lane control, and R-Line trims come with automatic high beams.

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7

2021 Volkswagen Passat

Features

The base S presents the best value for the 2021 Passat.

Which Passat should I buy?

The 2021 Passat S costs $24,990, including destination, and comes with LED headlights, power mirrors, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a USB port, and even a CD player. There may not be a lighter, but there is a 6.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android compatibility, and a good 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with two years or 20,000 miles of scheduled maintenance. The value and warranty earn it a point each to a 7. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Volkswagen Passat?

The $30,990 R-Line dresses up a cadaver with 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels and gloss black air intakes, window surrounds, spoiler, and diffuser. Chrome stripes the grille and rims the dual exhaust pipes. Inside features ambient lighting, Fender audio, navigation, paddle shifters, and automatic high beams.

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5

2021 Volkswagen Passat

Fuel Economy

The lone powertrain in the Passat isn’t very efficient compared to the competition.

Is the 2021 Volkswagen Passat good on gas?

The turbo-4 in the Passat gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg city, 36 highway, 28 combined. It trails the mid-30 mpg combined averages of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, before accounting for the hybrid versions. It’s a 5.

Review continues below

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$23,995
MSRP based on 2.0T S Automatic
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5.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 6
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
Compare the 2021 Volkswagen Passat against the competition
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    7.2
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  • 2021 Toyota Camry

    7.0
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2021 Volkswagen Passat Pricing Insights

  • 2021 VW Passat has hidden discounts
  • Leases: From $199 per month for 39 months
  • Rebates: Up to $1,250 in unadvertised savings
  • Finance: From 0% APR for 60 months
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