2012 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

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Volkswagen Passat Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 5-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 5700 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat

  • Designed and engineered in Germany but made in America for Americans, the redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Passat deserves serious consideration from midsize family sedan shoppers.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Roomy cabin; available fuel-efficient turbodiesel engine; many upscale features come standard; high-quality cabin; refined ride.

  • Cons

    Below-average braking distances; lackadaisical throttle response; rearview camera not offered.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Volkswagen Passat has been fully redesigned. Highlights include a lower price, a roomier interior and a newly available turbodiesel engine.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (3 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

23 of 40 people found this review helpful

2012 vw passat quality issues

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Passat S PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

I have had all kinds of minor quality problems with my 2012 Passat... I love the car but VW doesn't do a whole lot to rectify these issues: 1. Seatbelt light and chimes even though my seatbelt is fastened and I'm the only person in the car. VW's lame excuse is that my cell phone is emitting electromagnetic waves that are setting the seatbelt light and chimes off. VW told me not to charge my cell phone in the car and not to get my phone too close to any of the seats. LAME! 2. Front end suspension noise. I has to bring my car in to the dealer twice before they admitted the right front suspension was defective. I had to put the tech guy in my car and roll over speed bumps at low speed before he admitted there was a defect. They have since rectified the problem. 3. Drivers door. The drivers door doesn't close unless you slam it like you are angry. The door should close properly with just the weight of the door. The VW tech told me "You know, everything on a new car doesn't actually work perfectly." Another LAME! 4. Rear trunk lid. Same problem with the rear trunk lid not closing unless you slam it like you are angry. There are scratches on the inside lid latch that show the latch is not aligned properly. Tech response, "All VW's are like this." A third LAME! 5. My brakes squeek in the morning. Eveyday, when leaving my house, my brakes squeek. Tech guy: "Due to the high humidity in the Hawaiian Islands, it's normal for VW brakes to squeek in the morning." Huh, I've leased Hondas for the last 14 years and never had squeeky brakes before. This must be a VW Issue? One more time: LAME!

12 of 21 people found this review helpful

Some irritating quality issues!

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Passat S PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

Hey Everybody… I just leased a 2012 Passat S… Although I absolutely love driving this car, I have noticed some irritating quality issues that VW America needs to be aware of. My Passat is just over a month old and currently has just almost 1,400 miles on it. My irritations are as follows: 1. The seatbelt light and chimes come on even though my seatbelt is fastened and I’m the only person in the car. It’s very frustrating to hear the chime and see the dashboard light illuminated. I’ve pulled over to turn off the car and restart. I’ve unbuckeled and rebuckled. I’ve stopped to get out of the car and start the whole process over and nothing seems to solve this problem. It’s kind of like driving down the highway and having someone ringing your doorbell every 10 seconds. My main concern is that this may be a safety issue? 2. Drivers seat rattles. with only 1,400 miles on this car, Is this a quaility issue? Keep in mind, I’m not a heavy set person. It seems like the seat is just not secured properly. I’m hoping this is a quality issue and not a safety issue. 3. Trunk lid is not aligned properly. I have to slam the trunk lid closed in order for the trunk lid latch to catch. You should be able to gently push the trunk lid closed in order for the latch to secure itself. I also have the same same problem with the drivers side front door. I have to slam it shut or the open door light illuminates. Both of these are frustrating as my wife thiks I’m mad everytime I have to close the door or trunk. These are both very minor quality issues but the liitle issues are starting to add up. And, I’m getting tired of hearing my wife say to me “What’s wrong” everytime we get in the car together. 4. Suspension noise from front and rear corners seems to be getting worse as the days go by. This is especially prevalent at low speeds when rolling over speed bumps or climbing the curb to pull into the driveway of my house. If this were a 1995 Ford Tauras with 120,000 miles on it, I’d be more understanding. But this is a brand new 2012 VW Passat and I expect better from a German car company which touts German Engineering as it’s tag line. Once again, I love driving this car… The handling, power (I have a 5 speed manual transmission), body style, bluetooth connectivity and generous back seat legroom make this car a beautiful ride. I just hope VW America understands and responds to my concerns to correct these minor but irritating quality issues. Luckily, this is only a 24 month lease, so if VW America choses not to respond to my quality claims, It’s a short term relationship and I can return to a car company like Honda who has a history of solid quality control. My concern is that after leasing Honda’s over the last 10 years, I’m not used to having to deal with these types pesky quality issues. I understand this 2012 Passat was built in America (which is a big reason why I chose to lease this vehicle), but it seems to have some quality issues that still need to be ironed out. I’ll be interested to see how VW America responds to these issues… Will they ignore me? Let me know these are normal inconveniences that I need to tolerate, or will VW America correct these issues to make sure I stay a loyal VW owner for years to come? I’m big on long term relationships. I don’t know the answer to my questions but I’ll make sure to update everyone on how this turns out!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

What a car!

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Passat S PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

Having 9K miles, I just don't have anything negative to say. The mileage is utterly unbelievable as I consistently get 35+ mpg. All the electronics work as advertised and are intuitive. It racks down the road smoothly and quietly. I know the 5 cylinder has been around for awhile, but it has been really refined into a first-class powerplant. Lastly, the fit and finish (especially the paint) of this car is believably world-class. Good job VW!

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Volkswagen Passat Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Volkswagen Passat has been fully redesigned. Highlights include a lower price, a roomier interior and a newly available turbodiesel engine.


If you've always wanted to drive a classy European sedan but have been put off by that nagging voice in your head telling you it's your patriotic duty to buy something built in America, you'll want to check out the 2012 Volkswagen Passat.

This all-new midsize sedan combines many of the qualities that likely drew you to German cars in the first place, including elegant styling and a more sporting driving character. But it's also the first vehicle to roll out from VW's brand-new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Compared to the previous Passat (which, incidentally, continues to be sold elsewhere in the world), it's meant to better appeal to American tastes, with a roomier interior, a new selection of engines and (most important) a significantly lower price.

As for the engine lineup, last year's gutsy 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is no more. Instead, VW gives you a choice of three engines: a 2.5-liter inline-5 we've come to know in the Jetta, a 2.0-liter inline-4 diesel (the TDI, also from the Jetta and Golf) or a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. All of them offer some form of six-speed automatic transmission, while the two smaller engines are offered with manual gearboxes as well. The TDI diesel is the one to get, as it achieves fuel economy greater than even its lofty EPA estimates. Essentially, you can get hybrid fuel economy at non-hybrid prices.

We suspect some prior owners of VW's mainstream sedan will lament the change in direction for the Passat, as it used to be a distinct bridge between regular family sedans and entry-level luxury cars. But the fact is VW's entry in the crowded family sedan category is now a better fit for the majority of consumers. It's priced right, drives well and finally holds a family of five comfortably. And thankfully, it still has its German roots.

There are some minor downsides to the new Passat package, notably the lack of some common features like a rearview camera and an eight-way power driver seat (it's only six-way). And given the state of the midsize segment, we certainly recommend buyers compare the Passat back-to-back with top choices like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. But for all that, the 2012 Volkswagen Passat remains uniquely positioned to satisfy your desire to drive European and own American.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan is offered in three broad models broken down by engine (2.5L, TDI and 3.6L), which are further subdivided into a trio of different trim levels (S, SE and SEL).

The lineup starts with the "S" base model (2.5L only), which comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, an eight-way manual driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, steering wheel audio controls, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input. An available Appearance package adds a six-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear-seat center armrest.

Move up to the SE trim level and you get 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a sliding front armrest and a touchscreen audio interface. Options on SE models include a sunroof and a navigation system, while TDI SE buyers can add 18-inch alloy wheels and foglights as well. The 3.6L SE comes standard with these options, except the navigation system, which remains optional. A nine-speaker Fender audio system is also included.

The 2.5L SEL adds upgraded front seats, the Fender sound system and an upgraded navigation system. The SEL Premium package adds keyless ignition/entry, remote ignition, foglights, a power passenger seat, driver memory functions and leather/faux suede upholstery. Both the TDI and 3.6L can also be had in SEL guise, but the Premium package is mandatory.

Powertrains and Performance

If there's one thing the front-wheel-drive 2012 Volkswagen Passat has plenty of, it's powertrain choices. Entry-level 2.5L models get a 2.5-liter inline-5 engine rated at 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices here include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped 2.5 Passat went from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds, which is average for the class. EPA estimated fuel economy for the manual transmission stands at 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. The automatic drops slightly to 22/31/25.

Those looking for maximum miles per gallon can opt for the TDI model's fuel-efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel, which produces 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to either the six-speed manual or a six-speed automated manual transmission (known as DSG). In Edmunds performance testing, the Passat TDI went from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds -- this is on par with gasoline-powered four-cylinder sedans. The EPA-estimated fuel economy is an excellent 31/43/35 for the manual and 30/40/34 with the DSG. In extensive Edmunds fuel economy testing, we've also found that the Passat can easily surpass these numbers by 8-10 mpg.

If maximum thrust is what you're after, look no farther than the 3.6L's 3.6-liter V6, which puts out 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. VW's six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is standard. In Edmunds testing, this engine was able to bring the Passat from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds -- very quick for this class. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 20/28/23 mpg.


The 2012 Volkswagen Passat's list of standard safety features includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In the event of a crash, a new feature called Intelligent Crash Response automatically cuts off the fuel supply, unlocks the doors and turns on the hazard flashers.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Passat earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In Edmunds brake testing, both a Passat 3.6 SEL and TDI came to a stop from 60 mph in about 130 feet, which is longer than average. A 2.5 SE delivered a class-average 123 feet.

Interior Design and Special Features

The first thing you notice about the passenger cabin of this new, larger Passat is the sense of spaciousness. Space up front is good; however, the driver seat only adjusts in six ways (minus lumbar), lacking the seat bottom tilting ability of most competitors. There are no complaints in back, as the Passat is verging on a full-size sedan now. It gets an additional 3 inches of rear seat legroom that makes it possible for even good-size adults to stretch out. The backrest is too upright, however, which can result in taller occupants' heads grazing the roof. The spacious trunk can swallow 15.9 cubic feet of cargo -- a number that bests many of the Passat's competitors -- and is made more flexible by 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks.

Once underway, you'll notice the interior is also relatively quiet compared to some other midsize family sedans. The quality of interior materials may not be as high as they were in the outgoing Passat, but they remain among the best in the class, while the design architecture adds an upscale feel. The layout of gauges and controls is also refreshingly simple. Finally, the new, premium Fender audio system has been tuned to the acoustics of the interior and will please even hard-core audiophiles.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the 2012 Volkswagen Passat's character depends a great deal on which engine is under the hood. Performance and fuel economy from the 2.5-liter five-cylinder are adequate and should be an acceptable choice for most buyers. However, we would recommend the 2.0-liter turbodiesel in TDI models, which offers livelier low-end power and truly extraordinary fuel economy. It's definitely the Passat engine to get. However, for those who care more about power than fuel economy, the 3.6-liter V6 engine does deliver much more enthusiastic acceleration.

The DSG automated manual transmission that's available with the turbodiesel engine and standard with the V6 works very well, and its regular and manual-shift modes mean the Passat is well suited both for commuting and more spirited driving. Unfortunately, the Passat's throttle response (with the automatic and DSG) is rather lackadaisical, with a noticeable lag between the time the pedal is pressed and when the engine actually kicks in. This is corrected by selecting the transmission's Sport mode, but the sportier shift programming results in worse fuel economy.

On the move, the Passat is an engaging sedan to drive thanks to its well-sorted suspension tuning. Steering is reasonably precise, although it's numb on center and a tad heavy at low speeds. Overall, though, the Passat manages to earn high marks for ride comfort, which is ultimately more important considering the fact that most buyers will be far more concerned with schlepping kids to school or co-workers to lunch than burning up winding back roads.

Talk About The 2012 Passat