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. The information gathering is shown below, on this pretty remarkable and overlooked VW PASSAT;
If your still with me after looking over the above, this car has ALSO received the top safety pick for car's in it's size range. So we have safety, technological sophistication (EA888 1.8L engine and user friendly dash interface), real world economy / mileage with a true sedan shape and efficiency. It doesn't hurt the FORBES study show that the 1.8L PASSAT is a 250,000 mile capable car (http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehmk45efjfd/7-volkswagen-passat/).
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.
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 average fuel economy gauge tracked by the tank instead resetting each trip, however, I typically check manually each tank anyways. I also 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.
Well built Sedan- Peppy engine &great fuel economy
written on 05-03-2016
S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Those in the market for misize sedan should test drive this car before making a purchase decision. Passat is an excellent sedan. Quick acceleration, plenty of low end torque, comfortable ride, quiet and very very spacious cabin. This is a driver's car, excellent visibility, large side windows add to it. Touchscreen is average but responsive. I have not had any problems with it. Rearview camera guides are very useful. This is my 3rd car and I use this for daily commute. I have put in about 2500 miles so far and I still enjoy driving this car. Engine is very peppy and acceleration is brisk. The car feels very composed and in control at highway speeds. On an average I get about 34 to 35mpg in mixed driving. Design is conservative and it looks good to my eyes. This is my first german sedan. My other cars are Japanese luxury brands. I do not know about long term reliability but from the way the car is put together it should last a long time. The one negative I can think of is that the AC air vents are a bit noisy even at low fan speeds.
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.
R-Line w/Comfort Package 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I owned a 2006 Jetta 2.0L I5 for 6 years, and it was an absolute blast to drive. It was the car that showed me how rewarding owning a VW can be. Exceptional handling, quick acceleration, and a ride so responsive it made the car seem like an extension of yourself. The Passat R-Line 1.8L I4, however, is none of those things, but for all the right reasons. This is a family car. Will it handle corners like a sports car? No. Will the sound of the engine turn heads? Nope. Will it win you drag races from stop lights? Probably not. What it will do, and what it does well, is provide a comfortable, confident and efficient driving experience. And it looks good doing it.
From the extra spacious cabin, to the ultra luxurious interior and silent ride, the 2016 Passat is a car for your everyday family driver. The R-Line comfort package has enough technology and comfort options to make this a world class vehicle that doesn't break the bank. Heated driver and passenger leather seats, bluetooth phone connectivity, wide angle (this is important!) back-up camera, steering wheel controls, cruise control, and a turbo charged 4 cylinder engine that feels nothing like any 4 cylinder you've driven before combine to offer a rewarding and pleasurable driving experience.
The Passat R-Line also includes a shiftable transmission, which is becoming increasingly difficult to come by since the introduction of continuously variable automatic transmissions on 4 cylinder vehicles. Personally, I hate the way CVT transmissions perform and would never buy a car without a geared transmission. They're sluggish, unresponsive, and worst of all unreliable. Is getting an extra 5-10 miles per gallon worth replacing the most expensive part of your vehicle prematurely? Not for this guy. That's bad business, I'll stick with what works.
It's hard to find faults with this car when you appreciate it for what it is, a reliable, stylish, and comfortable family sedan. That said, some mild gripes would include Nitrogen filled tires (no airing up at gas stations with this car), the missing TDI class (VW didn't make any diesel cars this year due to their ongoing trouble with fraudulent emissions scores) and an oddly shaped steering wheel. The bottom of the steering wheel is flat and obstructed. For someone who typically drives with only one hand at the bottom of the wheel, this is mildly irritating, but not enough to make me consider a different vehicle.
Overall, for what's included and for how pleasurable it is to drive, the Passat R-Line w/ Comfort Package is an exceptional car for an exceptional value. But go ahead and sign up for that extended warranty if you can afford it. Anybody who's driven VW long enough will tell you how much they love the vehicles, but hate the repairs. These machines might be built in Chattanooga, TN right here it the great ol' USA, but this is still a German car with German parts. Repairs WILL be expensive if you're paying out of pocket. But this is Volkswagen and it is a great car, take care of it and it will take care of you.