The Volkswagen Passat has long been a favorite among shoppers looking for a little more luxury and style in their midsize family sedan or wagon. For many folks, the Passat has traditionally filled the gap that exists between normal, humdrum family cars and the financially out-of-reach luxury brands. Displaying a classy, restrained style inside and out, the Volkswagen Passat gives the impression of quiet competence, which is borne out by its refined driving character. A quality cabin and competent handling, along with a supple ride, are typical Passat traits.
The latest Volkswagen Passat is the biggest Passat yet and is priced considerably lower than before to more closely compete with mainstream family sedans. There has been some cost-cutting to meet that lower price, though, which means the Passat may be a little less appealing to aspiring German luxury car owners. Still, we think it has retained enough of its premium feel to make a case for itself as a gateway vehicle. As for used Passats, both second- and third-generation models are very good picks.
Current Volkswagen Passat
Available in a quintet of trim levels (S, Wolfsburg, SE, Sport and SEL), the current Volkswagen Passat boasts many of the qualities that have drawn folks to German cars in the first place. The well-controlled, buttoned-down ride quality is one, while its restrained exterior styling is another. The cabin, though not quite as special as that of VW's CC or the old Passat, is still one of the nicer environments to be found in the class. It's also one of the most spacious, with plenty of rear seat legroom and a large trunk.
The base Passat "1.8T" engine is a peppy yet fuel-efficient 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 170 horsepower. It is one of the more appealing engines in the midsize sedan segment, yet the Passat TDI's diesel engine is nevertheless worth strong consideration. Although a tad louder and with more low-end power than the 1.8T, the driving experience is similar enough that its 34 mpg combined fuel economy comes without a drivability penalty. Its highway fuel economy is actually better than what some midsize hybrid sedans can achieve. For those seeking more power, a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 is also available.
On the move, the Passat is an engaging sedan to drive thanks to its well-sorted suspension tuning, precise steering feel and strong brakes. The car also 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 taking a spirited drive along winding back roads.
In total, the Volkswagen Passat is a midsize sedan that's worthy of consideration alongside the stalwart class leaders from America and Japan. While it still mostly looks and feels like a German car, it now has the generous space and attractive pricing expected of an American one.
Read the most recent 2015 Volkswagen Passat review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volkswagen Passat page.
For more on past Volkswagen Passat models, view our Volkswagen Passat history page.