A Cool Character - 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: A Cool Character

July 25, 2013

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL

Senior Editor Josh Jacquot says our Passat is where personality comes to die. It's a typically caustic Jacquot assessment of any car that can't get air or handle a rally stage, but it's not totally fair. Yes, the steering wheel is inexplicably off-center, annoyingly so. The center console is almost useless. The brakes are grabby.

But the 2013 VW Passat TDI has personality. It's tempting to tag it with our classic German stereotypes: stoic, clinical, humorless. Few of which I believe anyway. Break bread with a group of German backpackers on holiday and you won't either.

The Passat is actually pretty orderly and warm. The gauges, vents and center stack are laid out in clean, symmetrical form (which makes the skewed steering wheel even more bothersome). The wood overlay and classic three-knob climate controls are a nice touch, the latter a reminder that opposable thumbs prefer twisting and pressing, rather than pinching and pecking at smudgy touchscreens.

I'm especially digging the ridgeline along the Passat's dash with its wood strip inlay, high-frequency speakers, and attendant Fender logos. There's no particular reason it should be there, other than to break up an otherwise expansive dash horizon. It's a nice, understated design element, far from the overwrought expression of, say, the Focus ST or even the Fusion's cabin.

I'm pretty sure once Jacquot jumps this thing, it'll grow on him.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor


  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    so, in your opinion, which VW is the closest in personality to that group of backpackers with a block of cheese and a few cans of strong brew? GTI? Turbo Beetle?

  • Or if the speakers are as good as you say they are, the dash ridgeline was necessary for the speakers insertion depth. A case of top-mounting helping, but still requiring more clearance over vent ducting or something?

  • The dash ridgeline actually reminds me of a car line which is quite the opposite of the Passat. 70s and 80s Cadillacs had the ridgeline, and in fact stuck idiot lights and the fuel gauge across the horizontal ridge. Actually a neat design cue for an otherwise solid an purposeful but unexciting interior. Function over style.

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