2016 Volkswagen Passat Review

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy cabin
  • refined and quiet ride
  • powerful and fuel-efficient engines
  • top safety scores.
  • Touchscreen is smaller than most competitors
  • sluggish response from DSG transmission
  • fuel-efficient diesel option on hold until emissions issues can be worked out.
List Price Range
$9,995 - $16,900

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat is a solid choice for those looking for a midsize sedan with a quiet, spacious cabin and a comfortable ride.

Vehicle overview

When the current-generation Passat was first unveiled for the 2012 model year, Volkswagen purists cried foul. The Audi-lite exterior styling of the outgoing Passat was replaced by more generic sheet metal. The previously high-quality interior materials were downgraded, and similar cuts were made in the engine bay. Gone was the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and automated clutch transmission shared with the GTI. In its place was an anemic 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that made it difficult for the Passat to get out of its own way. The Passat's once-vaunted handling supremacy in the midsize class shifted in favor of a comfort-oriented setup that left the sedan clumsy in the corners.

It was a sedan aimed squarely at the mainstream, with a lower price that allowed the Passat to better compete with the Camrys and Accords that dominated the segment. Sales went up and while they lagged behind the class leaders, the Passat still contributed healthily to Volkswagen's bottom line. So when it came time to refresh VW's second best-selling car in the U.S., the automaker characteristically chose to play it safe.

It's hard to tell, but the 2016 Volkswagen Passat received a minor styling refresh this year.

You'd have to be an eagle-eyed Volkswagen aficionado to notice the differences between the 2015 and 2016 models in terms of body styling. Exterior changes are mostly limited to a domed hood, revised headlights, LED taillights and chrome window trim. The upgrades are more apparent from behind the wheel. The top trim level now gets full leather seating rather than a leather/simulated suede combo. Several design elements are borrowed from the 2015 Golf, including a revised steering wheel and instrument cluster.

On SE models with the Technology package, as well as the SEL and SEL Premium trims, smartphone integration comes in the form of an upgraded version of Volkswagen's Car-Net telematics system called App-Connect. Certain smartphone applications, including Spotify and Stitcher, are emulated on the Passat's touchscreen display via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. While the new touchscreen that incorporates those features is appreciably faster than the old one, it is noticeably smaller than screens used in almost every other midsize sedan.

Although there's a lot to like about the Passat, it operates in a competitive segment with numerous solid alternatives. The 2016 Ford Fusion and redesigned 2016 Honda Accord are a couple of our favorite midsize sedans, each with impressive styling and a choice of powerful engines. If a sporty midsize is more your style, it doesn't get much better than the 2016 Mazda 6, although an engine upgrade is not available. If you're after a refined and quiet ride, the 2016 Toyota Camry is as silent as they come. The 2016 Kia Optima and 2016 Hyundai Sonata are also good choices that offer a strong value proposition.

2016 Volkswagen Passat models

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat Sedan is offered in five main trim levels: S, R-Line, SE, SEL and SEL Premium.

The base S comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, full power accessories, a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, height-adjustable front seats (with two-way manual lumbar adjustment for the driver), a 60/40-split folding rear seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

There's a new "R-Line" trim that gives the Passat a sportier look. This is a standard TDI model.

The sporty R-Line adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and unique exterior and interior styling elements. The R-Line is available with a Comfort package, which includes heated side mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), heated front seats and leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery.

The SE adds the features from the R-Line with Comfort package (minus R-specific trim and the large wheels) and adds 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, a sliding front armrest, rear air-conditioning vents, adaptive cruise control, a 6.3-inch touchscreen, HD and satellite radio, a second USB port, the Car-Net telematics system and a collision mitigation system with automating braking. The optional Technology package adds foglights, automatic wipers, keyless entry and ignition, a hands-free trunk opener with foot sensor, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated rear seats, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, a navigation system, an eight-speaker sound system and an upgraded version of Car-Net that offers smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

The SEL takes the features from the SE with Technology package and adds 18-inch wheels, an eight-way power passenger seat (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, leather upholstery, a premium Fender audio system and a separate ski pass-through for the 60/40 rear seat.

A Lighting package is available for all trims. It includes foglights (if not already equipped) and LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights.

The top-of-the-line SEL Premium includes all of the SEL features plus power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, remote ignition, an automated parallel parking feature, a lane departure warning system and the Lighting package.

2016 Highlights

The Volkswagen Passat receives a mildly revised exterior, updated center stack and full leather seating on upper trim levels. A rearview camera is now standard, and newly available safety features include a lane departure warning system, a blind-spot monitor and frontal collision warning with automatic braking. A standard USB port replaces Volkswagen's proprietary plug for connecting smartphones and media players. There have also been a few trim changes, including the addition of a sporty R-Line model.

Performance & mpg

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat is front-wheel drive and is available with two engines: a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.6-liter V6. The four-cylinder is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, while power is routed through a six-speed automated manual (known as DSG) in the V6.

All trim levels except the V6 SEL Premium come standard with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds performance testing, the Passat 1.8T SEL went from zero to 60 mph in a quick 7.7 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 29 mpg in combined driving (25 city/38 highway), which is the segment average but slightly behind the Honda Accord and Mazda 6.

The 3.6-liter V6 is available solely on the SEL Premium trim level, and it produces 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, the Passat 3.6 SEL Premium made the sprint from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. It's rated at 23 mpg in combined driving (20 city/28 highway).

Normally, the Passat would also offer a diesel-powered engine, the TDI. But for now, the 2016 Passat TDI is on hiatus while VW figures out how to make it emissions compliant.

The revised technology interface is one of the Passat's new features. It works well, but the screen is still on the small side.


Standard safety features for the 2016 Volkswagen Passat include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a rearview camera, front side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags. Upper-level trims include a collision mitigation system with automatic braking, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and a lane departure warning system.

VW's Car-Net telematics system, standard from the SE model on up, includes automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location, speed alerts and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers).

In government crash testing, the Passat scored a perfect five stars overall, with five for frontal-impact protection and five for side crash protection. Similarly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Passat its top score of "Good" for frontal moderate-overlap, side-impact and roof-strength tests. It received the Institute's second-highest rating of "Acceptable" in the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test. The Passat's seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Passat 3.6 SEL came to a stop from 60 mph in about 130 feet, which is longer than average. However, a 1.8 SEL stopped in a class-average 123 feet, while a TDI SEL took 124 feet.

Excellent materials and plenty of passenger room make the Passat a great family sedan.


We think most buyers will be quite happy with the 1.8-liter engine. It's quick for the segment and delivers good fuel economy. For those who care more about high power than high fuel mileage, the 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers much more enthusiastic acceleration.

The DSG automated manual transmission in the V6 generally feels like a regular automatic transmission. One negative is the DSG's lackadaisical responsiveness. Unless it's in Sport mode, there's a slight delay between the time you press down on the gas pedal and when the engine actually responds. Most owners get used to this quirk in time, or, if they want snappier response, keep it in Sport mode.

On the highway, the Passat is impressively quiet and comfortable, snuffing out bumps large and small. Around turns, the steering is reasonably precise, although there's not much feel for the road and some drivers find it a tad heavy at low speeds. Overall, though, the Passat earns high marks for its relaxed, refined demeanor in everyday driving.


The front seats are nicely bolstered but are wide enough to not feel confining. In back, the Passat verges on full-size sedan dimensions, as even 6-footers will have room to stretch out their legs. The seatback cushion is fairly upright, however, which can result in taller occupants' heads grazing the roof. The ample trunk can swallow an impressive 15.9 cubic feet of cargo, and you can haul bulkier items when the 60/40 rear seatbacks are folded down.

The quality of the VW Passat's interior materials is among the best in the class. Its overall cabin design is decidedly upscale, while the layout of gauges and controls is refreshingly simple. The premium Fender audio system will please even hard-core audiophiles, and the new infotainment system is faster to respond to inputs and easier to use than the old unit. Smartphones and media players now connect to the system via a USB port, rather than the previous MDI plug. The only downside is the touchscreen's rather small size. Both available screens are disappointingly small and require a certain amount of concentration to operate properly.

Using Apple Carplay or Android Auto is easy with the Passat's new user interface.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

So much right in one car.
Galen Gareis,01/22/2016
S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I keep my cars 15 to 20 years. So quick study isn't my thing...but that's what you go on when you buy newer and own them for decades. I looked at all the usual suspects in the mid sized / mid priced (like 30K is cheap?) segment. For the record, I drive a 2008 FORD Focus and a 1999 E320 Mercedes so I'm shooting for ONE car that jams those two together into a single package. [HTML content removed] The 2016 PASSAT meets or exceeds my E320 in actual space and blows it away in efficiency. It's darn near what my 2008 FOCUS reaches (The FOCUS is a LIGHT 2600 pound car that gets 36-37 MPG average) in mileage!! User reports from doubting Thomas's (I was, too!) report 35 MPG in real world use. So this car meets the requirement of a cost effective well built car that gets decent mileage. I didn't need more power than the E320 had, but actually wanted better economy and GOOD power. This engine delivers. Drive one, you'll see. The styling is a stark RELIEF to the catfish mouthed and insect derived massive black plastic front ends of today's me too cars. Old fashioned you say? My E320 is 17 years old and still looks sharp as ever and the PASSAT will age just as well. A legacy SEDAN greenhouse shape, not coupe with four doors (see the CC model) is great to drive and live with. Four minutes into the test drive it felt like I owned the car forever. The steering is light but the car is tightly buttoned down offsetting this some. It tracks superbly, too. So it gets tighter as you speed-up but this car is intended to not be "heavy" handed. Why people insist on a sports car attribute across the board when this is a SEDAN I'll never know. Sports cars are occasion cars, this is an every day car. Quiet as my E320, wow. - The brakes are slightly odd, in that the pedal is initially soft but has a good deal of bite, then they quickly firm-up and respond to increased pedal PRESSURE, not movement. They don't droop to the floor, however, but just have some initial softness. I'm used to older cars with far less brake circuitry stealing away some tactile feel. - The 6-speed torque converter trans. shifts well, but DOES go to the highest gear as you lift off the pedal. And, it will hunt for the highest gear sooner the lighter you use the pedal. SPORT mode makes it easier to keep it pulling smoothly. This isn't the touted Dual Clutch, and doesn't have problems common to DCT, either. 38 MPG and 25 MPG in town say it's still efficient. - The interior of a car should be nice, and also easy to keep clean. Doors that open into the rain and snow should NOT be covered in material that stains (cloth, suede, ETC) in my book. A-pillars and B-pillars should also be easy to clean as these are natural grab handles for dirty hands. I like the PASSATs choice of high grade vinyl or TPE (it is hard to tell if it is a TEP or TPR) as it is good feeling yet easy to clean. This is a car, it will get dirty! Let me clean it please...and yes they did. - Seating is excellent minus the ability to tip the seat bottom cushion up or down. But, the angle is correct as is and few will really see need to move it. If you do, you can't. The steering wheel has more than ample up-down and in-out to suit even my 4'8" wife's reach. This car as a good range of fit for about any driver. - The new electronic dash is nice but better yet, the HVAC are still DIALS and BUTTONS! YA! so quick get in and go on cold mornings is easy. The secondary controls are touch screen items. There are a series of buttons on the side of the display that get you close to where you need to go, too. This is a very good "hybrid" execution. Not too much in the way of buttons (crowded dash) and not too few (clean but hard to use / navigate). My premium model has the FENDER that is well rated. - I'm not a fan of the bigger wheel, that I thing are stupid on an every day car. They are heavier, more prone to damage and expensive for what? Slightly better racer boy response (seldom) and looks (mostly). Count me out, I think that the 17" 55 series wheels are far more realistic in everyday use. Far cheaper, wear longer and better riding. Oh, huge 15.9 foot cubed trunk and 18,5 gallon tank.
The most practical mid-size sedan you can buy
R-Line 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
My decision to buy this car began in January 2016 when I went to the midlands international auto show and looked at pretty much every car they had there. When considering all factors, including price, the VW Passat was my favorite car there (granted I didn't test drive any at the time). I noticed right away the attention to detail in the design without trying to over-design like many of the competitors. Just compare, for example, the taillight on the passat to the "lego" pieces other cars are using. I thought the Passat looked very well thought out, classy, and something that will still look good in 15 years. The cabin felt roomy, seats comfortable, and outward visibility quite good. Fast forward to May, a local dealership had an offer too good to pass up so I decided to take one for a test drive and absolutely loved it. I went with the R-Line and think it looks better than my 2014 mazda6, which I traded in to get it. The ride quality is nice, even with the low profile tires. I love having dual climate control and a backup camera standard. I also love that the max torque from the engine comes at 1500 rpm and remains until 4700 rpm, so the power feels adequate for most of the driving anyone would need to do (most people keep engine under 3500 rpm the majority of the time). The transmission is programmed for economy so expect it to feel like it is 1 gear too high on occasion, however, it is very responsive when needed. I also learned from the sales guy that VW uses new metal for the body panels with wax in between seams, rather than recycled metal. This is important because it will be much less prone to rust. It is also nice that oil changes are every 10,000 miles. As far as dislikes, I wish the remote starter was a little more affordable for lower trim levels. Otherwise, no complaints other than the fact that my wife gets to drive it instead of me :) . I can't comment on reliability, however, given the price they sell for I can afford a couple repairs along the way and still be quite pleased with it overall. I plan to keep this car a long time. **Update - I replaced the OEM tires with Pirelli Cinturato P7 All season tires and the ride quality is even better with very little road noise. Been averaging about 30 mpg in mixed driving. ***2 year update - very minor coolant leak at a hose connection covered under warranty. No other issues and wife still loves the car.
Unbelievable Value
Jay D,08/14/2016
SEL Premium 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
This will be a short testimonial. My brother has a 2014 Passat and I liked it. So I was out one day with no intention on buying a car. But I passed a VW dealer and thought I would stop in just to browse. I insisted several times to the salesman that I was just killing time. He told me it didn't matter that he was willing have me do a test ride on a new 2016 Passat SEL Premium that just came in. When I found out that it had a 1.8 T engine I wasn't interested. He insisted that I would be surprised. After much prompting from him, having nothing else to do that day I took it for a spin. I was driving a 2.0 T Saab at the time and the Passat engine had more torque. The fit and finish and quality materials were as good as most entry level premium brands if not better. And this vehicle has every creature comfort and safety feature as standard. Its trunk is very big, has a spare tire (donut), leather seats and the back seat legroom is unbelievable. It wasn't that difficult to get the price down to $30,000. This truly was an offer I could not refuse. I had a 2014 loaded up Volvo s60 for 2 years that had a negotiated price of $44,000. The Volvo had no spare, small trunk and little backseat legroom. If anyone is considering an entry level premium brand they should take a serious look at the "pedestrian" VW Passat. They will be shocked at what they will discover. As an update to this original review . . . After 9500 miles I am still extremely happy with the Passat. No problems. Routinely get 37 mpg on trips. And let me emphasize that this model has navigation, upgraded Fender sound system, lane assist, blind side warning, adaptive cruise control and park assist that includes self parking function. And additional features that you would expect on a premium vehicle but at a "pedestrian" price.
Amazed, 40 MPG
S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I rented this car from Hertz for 2 weeks and drove over 6,000 miles from Seattle to Anchorage and all throughout the interior of Alaska. What a pleasant surprise. I am sold and would love to buy one. I put this car through hell and back with all of the tough terrain on the Alaska Highway, Denali National Park, etc... The thing that amazed me most was the gas mileage. To my great surprise, I averaged 40 MPG with about 70% highway miles. The car performed flawlessly through all types of terrain and was very comfortable to drive.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.7%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2016 Volkswagen Passat

Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat Overview

The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat is offered in the following submodels: Passat Sedan. Available styles include S PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE PZEV w/Technology 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), R-Line PZEV w/Comfort Package 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), R-Line w/Comfort Package 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SE w/Technology 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), R-Line PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SEL Premium PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), SEL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), R-Line 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), V6 SEL Premium 4dr Sedan (3.6L 6cyl 6AM), SEL PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and SEL Premium 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat S PZEV is priced between $9,995 and$15,520 with odometer readings between 44453 and100000 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat SE PZEV is priced between $11,500 and$16,900 with odometer readings between 38548 and130849 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat SE PZEV w/Technology is priced between $13,990 and$14,740 with odometer readings between 45814 and67494 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat R-Line PZEV is priced between $15,995 and$15,995 with odometer readings between 57120 and57120 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat R-Line w/Comfort Package is priced between $15,700 and$15,700 with odometer readings between 39281 and39281 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat SE is priced between $10,900 and$10,900 with odometer readings between 82765 and82765 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat SEL PZEV is priced between $14,500 and$14,500 with odometer readings between 63981 and63981 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2016 Volkswagen Passats are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2016 Volkswagen Passat for sale near. There are currently 19 used and CPO 2016 Passats listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,995 and mileage as low as 38548 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2016 Volkswagen Passat.

Can't find a used 2016 Volkswagen Passats you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Passat for sale - 6 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $22,279.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 3 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $12,167.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Passat for sale - 1 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $23,941.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 4 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $20,962.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 Volkswagen Passat?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Passat lease specials