Got Wood? - 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: Got Wood?

July 24, 2013

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL

I just got back from driving the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, a car with a spectacular cabin highlighted by its tasteful application of wood trim. It's integrated beautifully into the design and when removed, say in the carbon fiber-equipped S63, the cabin loses a lot of its panache.

Having said that, I'm usually not a fan of wood trim in cars since it's so rarely done well. Exhibit A: Our long-term Volkswagen Passat TDI. Indeed, it would appear to have even more wood trim than the new S-Class, but it's completely unconvincing and in such abundance that I can't decide if it's tacky or just horribly out of fashion. Nevermind, it's both. It's on the dash, the console, the doors and on the thin trim piece just below the windshield. It turns what is otherwise a cool, Teutonic environment into an homage to the Hyundai XG350.

Unfortunately, the plastic forest is required on today's top-of-the-line VW Passat. If you want the lower trims' metal look trim, you'll have to do without all the other extras included on the SEL Premium. To me, all that fake wood actually looks less premium.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3,976 miles


  • alex4515 alex4515 Posts:

    100% agreed. When my wife and I were shopping for our family sedan back in 2009, we were looking at the Altima and the fake wood on the inside was such a turn-off that we didn't even consider it any further - headed straight for the nearest Honda dealership to look at the Accord.

  • That is just too much. There is a big difference between accent trim and trying to make it look like the car is made out of wood. ---- I always get a kick out of the ebay 'wood look' kits that people buy and are so proud of where it comes pieces to cover just about every bit of the interior. They just look tacky and extremely fake. You can get away with a small amount of a fake look to just give the dash a bit of different trim.

  • shindig4 shindig4 Posts:

    I recently bought a 2013 Passat, and the terrible "wood" trim is a main reason why I chose an SE model instead of the SEL model. The SE comes equipped with a convincing metallic-look trim that looks especially nice when paired with a black interior. The fake wood-grain trim on the SEL reminds me of a 1980s American car.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    The execution is poor in the examples you give. Wood can still be used to give a premium feel, as evidenced in the Bentley Mulsanne ( which, despite having even more wood, exudes a premium, exclusive feel. Maybe wood just doesn't belong on such plebian cars as a VW Passat and Hyundai of any kind.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @greenpony: Think you missed the point- wood, well executed, definitely gives a car a GREAT interior. Check out the BMW Gran Lusso, or even the Tesla Model S for this. Heck, it can even look good in cheaper cars too. But when you've got FAKE WOOD, and it'

  • ahightower ahightower Posts:

    I like nice wood trim, or nice faux wood if it looks good. This does appear a little tacky. I also hate faux aluminum though, and it almost never looks good. My new Accord has some completely artificial and shiny black "stuff" with little speckles in it and I'll be darned, it's kinda nifty. At least, it feels nice to the touch, and it doesn't look like it'll get all scuffed up easily.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I simply do not get why automakers still put cheap fake wood trim in new cars. It's so obviously fake and tacky that it looks worse than having plain plastic or vinyl. I thought everyone figured this out in the 90s.

  • Yet another reason why I bought the SE. Nice clean metal look trim is far superior. No I don't have built-in garage door opener or the push button start. My phone does great nav and the dealer actually told me their system is overloaded and clunky. I am having the backup camera installed tomorrow. Manual passenger seat is not a big deal for me. Only thing I could say I miss is the Fender system but the premium is not bad. Present tankful, 475 miles, 275 highway the rest in town, 40.5 m.p.g.

  • bvc500 bvc500 Posts:

    I don't think wood should be featured in an interior if it isn't real. Is that too much to ask for?

  • sjw91_ sjw91_ Posts:

    I actually think it looks good with the black interior. Don't like it with tan.

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