Although it hasn't undergone a major redesign for several years, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat continues to hold its own against rivals from the U.S. and Japan in the hotly contested midsize-sedan market segment. It may not have the sports appeal or technical sophistication of some competitors, but the Passat's blend of roominess, pleasant styling and a comfortable ride clearly strikes a chord with the steady stream of buyers who have kept the model in production since 1973.
After a minor refresh last year, the Passat has undergone few changes for 2017. The SEL trim level has been axed, and a new V6 SE model has been added to the lineup. All Passats now have standard forward collision warning with automatic braking, and the higher trim levels get new standard equipment that includes Volkswagen's App-Connect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
The Passat's interior is one of the model's strong suits. The design is attractive, the layout functional and the high-quality materials give the impression of a more expensive vehicle. There's also an abundance of space, with plenty of leg-, hip- and shoulder room for front-seat occupants, a rear seat that's one of the largest in its class and a generous trunk size that vacationing families will appreciate. The standard infotainment system, while perhaps not a class-leader, is nevertheless easy to use and features a modestly sized touchscreen display.
The standard powerplant for all trim levels is a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. More power is available on the SE and SEL Premium models in the form of a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and comes with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
With suspension designed more for comfortable highway cruising and around-town practicality than flat-out cornering, the Passat still provides crisp steering response, and the Sport mode and available paddle shifters can help enhance the driving experience for those interested in a bit more excitement. Performance from the standard four-cylinder engine is likely to be more than adequate for most drivers, although the V6 cut about 1.3 seconds from the zero-to-60-mph time in Edmunds testing.
Fuel economy for the Passat with the base four-cylinder engine is EPA rated at a combined 27 mpg (23 city/34 highway), while the V6 achieved a combined rating of 23 mpg (20 city/28 highway).
The surprisingly well-equipped Passat S comes with such features as dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera and an infotainment system with USB port. The R-Line model adds a few sporty touches, the SE tacks on more comfort and convenience items, and the top-of-the-line SEL Premium goes all out with details like heated leather seats, more driver-assist devices and a premium sound system. Let Edmunds help you find the best 2017 Volkswagen Passat to suit your needs.