I recently leased a 2017 Passat R-Line and I have to say I am surprised by how good it is. I'm pretty OCD and normally take a long time and make careful decisions. I cross-shopped it with other mid-size sedans, mainly the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford Fusion. Basically I rented or test drove all the main mid-sizers except the Subaru Legacy. In terms of handling, the Passat is middling. It is a bit bouncy and feels just a bit floaty at high speeds (over 80 mph, which is normal speed on SoCal freeways when not congested). Of all of them, the best driving were the Mazda 6, Ford Fusion, and Honda Accord, followed by the Malibu, Optima and Passat, with the Sonata bringing up the rear. In terms of comfort, however, by far the most comfortable was the Passat, both for the front seats and especially the crazy large backseats. It also feels very airy and the sight lines are very good (except to the direct rear, where high back headrests intrude a little). The little 1.8 liter turbo engine is a champ. It felt at least as powerful as the base engines in the other mid-sizers, and more powerful than some. Yeah, its 170 horsepower doesn't sound very impressive, but its 184 lb ft of torque is always there and gives really good oomph. I will check mpg when I've had it for longer. In terms of technology and infotainment, I would say the Passat ranks pretty well, but is not the best. The R-Line has the key safety features I was looking for: Wide angle rear camera, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitor, and forward collision alert with emergency braking. The one feature it is missing which I wanted was adaptive cruise control - I would have needed to go up to the SE With Technology for that (I think Edmunds lists it in the normal SE, which seems to be a rare error by Edmunds). One possible safety issue: The headlights aren't the best. I have the halogens - the LED headlights are supposed to be a bit better, but mine doesn't have them. I can see fine with the halogens, but they aren't very bright and some people might wish for more brightness. In terms of looks, I would say the Passat is attractive from all angles, especially the back and side, although I think looks are really a matter of personal taste. Trunk space is very good - 15.9 cubic feet, and the space is very functional, plus the rear seats fold down 60/40. The main reason I chose the Passat was that, looked at as a whole package, I felt better about it than any of the others. It just feels extremely easy to live with, and also feels like a premium car but at a lower price than others on this list. There is nothing it doesn't do well, and some things it does great (did I mention the huge open airy comfortable cabin? Let me mention it again). Plus the dealership (Mossy VW in Escondido, CA) was more willing to work with me than other dealers. So I drove off with what I felt was the best car of the bunch, at the lowest price of the bunch, what's not to like? It's too new to give any reliability impressions - I might do that after I've had more time with the car.
I had been looking for a new car for months and was thinking Audi or Lexus. I preferred German engineering over all else as I used to own a BMW 328i but decided to sell it before major repairs became a common place situation. I went to my local VW dealer and saw the R Line in Black and realized I preferred the look of this car over the new A4. Took it for a test drive and fell in love. I don't know how the specifications are so low on the engine, 170 HP and 184 ft lb torque when it feels like it pulls like a much higher engine. I was extremely impressed by the package and with the incentive, acquired the car for slightly over $22k. Insane value. After the past few days I am in love. It's quiet, perky, handles extremely well, fuel efficient and beautiful to look at and sit in. I think VW really has a winner with this one. I look forward to owning this car for awhile.
The R-line has a beautiful sporty design compared to the base S model. The 19in aluminum alloy wheels are stylish and really grip the road allowing for great tight handling; and the R-line's cabin is quiet even with the larger tires. Combined MPG is higher than EPA estimates of city/hwy 23/34, I'm currently getting about 31.5 (half hwy, half city). What makes the Passat R-line stand above it's competitors is it's technology and low price. The central info-entertainment system is far superior to it's competitors including the Camry, Optima, Legacy, and Madza 6. Also, it comes in a few thousand below the base prices of several of its competitors, making it an affordable yet very reliable option. As an added plus is the size of the cabin. It's huge compared to other midsize sedans. Overall, very impressive for a vehicle in the low 20s.
Simply best in its segment. Test driven many competitors, but VW PASSAT definitely stands out. Excellent handling and brakes, awesome road experience, quality interior, great infotainment system, catchy design (I leased the R-Line model), and many more. Definitely recommend this car, especially with current deals from Volkswagen.