By on February 6, 2012

Volkswagen’s “premium” image in the minds of car enthusiasts is not entirely accurate. From the Beetle to the Rabbit, VW has a long history of making budget cars for the masses. While the automotive press lauded the high-rent interiors and Audi-sourced parts, the Touraeg and Phaeton were mere detours on the road to brand identity. Shoppers wanted a “people’s” VW again, and the result of this outcry is the 2012 VW Passat SEL.

While other VWs may get an expressive fascia, the new Passat is pure conservative VW. From the geometric grille to the character line that’s as flat as Kansas, the Passat never strikes a pose that would offend a conservative mid-size shopper. If you want a VW with more excitement or Euro flair, the CC brings more aggressive bumpers, more chrome and sexier tail lights to the party. While some in the press have called the Passat boring, I would posit the sedate lines will help the Passat age more gracefully than some of the competition, most notably the new Sonata.

Those of us that seriously considered the previous generation Passat when purchasing a near-luxury vehicle like an Acura or Volvo (myself included) will be disappointed with the interior. The new Passat is now $8,000 cheaper than the previous car, and it’s re-positioning as a mid-size, rather than near-luxury car meant that something had to give. Mid-size shoppers demand expansive rather than expensive cabins, and VW took note. Camcord shoppers also place fuel economy, electronic doodads and rear-seat leg room higher on their list than squishy dash bits.  As a result, the new Passat is as mainstream as any, with parts quality a notch below the outgoing model but easily on par with Ford’s Fusion and the new Camry, right down to the fake wood on the dash.

The lack of real tree is just one of the changes that VW made to pull the Passat out of the near-luxury market. Now missing at any trim level are  HID headlamps, optional AWD (although the rumor mill says it may be available later), the turbo four-cylinder engine, a station wagon variant, backup camera, rain sensing wipers, rear seat HVAC vents and a few other items that the VWVortex crowd feels are essential for a Passat. All this really means to the shopper is that the Passat is finally aimed squarely at Camry and Accord shoppers who don’t buy those sorts of options anway. Perhaps because of VW’s reliability numbers in past years the one standard feature VW didn’t remove is their 3 year/36,000 mile scheduled maintenance included on every Passat.

Fitting in with the rest of the class, VW fitted a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated base engine under the hood. Unlike the competition, the Passat’s engine sports a 5-cylinder design. The five-banger is smoother than the competition’s base engines and the average shopper won’t notice (or won’t care about) the odd cylinder count. Channeling the 170HP and 177lb-ft of torque to the front wheels is a standard 6-speed automatic (SE models have a manual option while TDI and V6 models get a 6-speed DSG). 2.5 shoppers aren’t likely to get hot and bothered for a DSG either, as long as they don’t have to work a clutch and gearshifter, and the combination delivers 22MPG city and 31MPG highway according to the EPA. Over our 480 miles with the Passat we averaged a respectable 28.5MPG in mixed driving with highway runs easily hitting the advertised 31MPG.

The Passat’s longer wheelbase (up 3.7 inches from 2010) pays dividends with a smoother highway ride, but notably less poise in the corners compared to the old model. While the tuning of the suspension may be slightly softer than before, much of the difference comes down to a rubber change. The outgoing model wore fairly wide (for a mass-market car) 235/45R17 shoes while the new Passat slips on svelte 215/55R17s. I like my tires wide,but this change brings the Passat in line with the Camry, Acrcord and Mazda 6 which all wear 215-width rubber on comparable models. Aiding the Passat’s agility, which I subjectively place somewhere between a Camry and a Mazda 6, is a fairly light 3,221lb curb weight.

As Ford has shown with their SYNC product, volume car shoppers want technology. VW has unfortunately decided that your level of infotainment tech directly relates to a trim level. While it is possible to upgrade some of these items after you drive off the lot, it’s far easier if you know what you want going in. Base models have standard Bluetooth integration with streaming audio, an auxiliary input jack and 9 speakers. Jumping up to the SE trim may get you a touch-screen interface and Sirius satellite radio but if iPod love is what you’re after you’ll only find that in the “SE with Sunroof and Navigation” or higher trims. The top-of-the-line SEL model will get you 400 watts of Fender amplification, and a subwoofer that’s tuned toward the “boomy” side of the baseline.

The base infotainment system, dubbed “RNS315″  gives you a 5 inch medium-resolution (400×240) touchscreen display, a single CD player and Sirius satellite radio. Stepping up to the SEL we tested gets you the “RNS 510” which is a 6.5 inch high-resolution (800×480) touchscreen system with a single slot DVD player and 45GB of hard drive storage split between maps (15GB) and personal music storage (25GB). The 510 is also capable of displaying live traffic data as well as “Sirius Travel Link” fuel prices, ski info, sports scores, weather forecasts and movie listings. While most of the information is superfluous, the fuel pricing is handy, especially if you opt for a diesel Passat as locating a diesel station can be tricky at times. The traffic and Travel Link features require a Sirius subscription and VW tosses in a 6-month trial for free. While I normally think the live traffic feature is worth the cost, VW has relegated traffic displays to a single map view rather than overlaying the information on all map views as most other manufacturers do so you might just skip the service if you have a smartphone and Google maps.

Now to the nitty-gritty. In 2011 the average vehicle sold in the US left the dealer show room for just under $30,000 before taxes. Since VW is aiming straight at the mainstream it should be no surprise that our SEL tester rang in at $28,395 (not including a $770 destination charge). Based on my research, the Passat compares well with the Camry and Accord but the Hyundai Sonata enjoys a pricing and feature advantage over the VW, while also possessing more radical styling and a Hyundai badge. My local VW dealer wouldn’t give me any firm numbers, but indicated the “2.5 SE with Sunroof” ($25,625) and “2.5 SE with Sunroof and Navigation” ($26,795) were their top selling Passat models.

Last time I new-car-shopped I was torn between the Lexus IS350, a Passat 3.6 4Motion and a Volvo S60R. While the R got the final nod, this speaks to the market position the former Passat held. This position seems to be the hardest thing for VW lovers, VW shoppers and the automotive press to let go of. This Passat is no longer a Volvo/Acura competitor. Instead, it’s exactly what the American shoppers asked for: a grown up Jetta. As painful as this may be to hear, it’s good for VW, and it’s good for the Camcord shopper looking for something different. For the shopper looking to replace their 2007 Passat with a new VW or the forum fanoy that’s broken hearted VW has “ruined” the Passat, get over it. Your Passat is the Volkswagen CC.

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30:3 seconds

0-60: 8.9 seconds

1/4 mile: 16.9 @ 82.9MPH

Observed fuel economy: 28.5MPG over 480 miles

 

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86 Comments on “Review: 2012 Volkswagen Passat SEL 2.5...”


  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the sales numbers followed those of the Jetta here. UP!

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed. There’s really nothing objectionable about this car, unless you mistrust VW reliability, which I do.

      While I’m generally opposed to 5-cylinder engines on principle, to hear that it’s smoother the competition’s 4-cylinder engines is impressive.

      • 0 avatar

        TrueDelta will have some initial reliabiility information on the new Passat later this month, with more solid stats in May. The cars aren’t glitch-free, but also could be worse.

        http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

      • 0 avatar
        micvog

        > to hear that it’s smoother the competition’s
        > 4-cylinder engines is impressive

        It’s not. I used to drive a 5-cyl. Jetta and last November I shopped this car against a Subaru Legacy (my ultimate purchase). A month later I also had a 4-cyl. Camry while on vacation. In terms of smoothness, I would rate the Passat significantly behind the H4 in the Subaru, and not even in the same league as the Camry. As I have read before, VW’s 5-cyl. combines the smoothness of a 4-cyl. (and a bad one at that) with the fuel economy of a 6. VW’s 5-cyl. is only smooth relative to a John Deere tractor.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I don’t understand VW’s prolific use of the 5 cylinder 2.5

      It’s not fuel efficient, it’s not that reliable (some claim that’s an understatement), and it has an agrarian sound track.

      Alex – Outstanding, outstanding job on the review, and thanks for the really high quality and vast array of photos. It makes great review even better.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        What kind of problems does the 2.5L have? I’ve heard that it’s one of the most reliable engines VW makes.

        It also runs on regular unleaded, while many of the engines VW uses elsewhere in the world require premium.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “What kind of problems does the 2.5L have? I’ve heard that it’s one of the most reliable engines VW makes.”

        Damning with faint praise.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        the 2.5 feels totally different in the Passat vs. the Jetta and Golf. Didn’t expect that myself, but there you go. From what I’ve heard/read it is reliable (CR for reference) but I haven’t seriously shopped them recently so I haven’t double checked that on TrueDelta. I’d chalk it up to the Passat’s extra isolation, it struck me as VW’s only purpose built commuter car and seemed way better at highway driving than the Jetta. The Jetta on the other hand strikes me as a large compact car trying really hard not to loose all of its compact character to the size upgrade.

      • 0 avatar
        VWdriver

        31 mpg in a Passat is not fuel efficient? The passat of 20 years ago had a 20% smaller engine and 129 hp and this car gets the same mileage with a bigger engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Mrb00st

        Rumor has it* that the 2.5L in the Jetta is soon to be replaced with the 1.8TSI, a smaller turbo four.

        *take this with a grain of salt.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I don’t know about the 2.5 in the Passat but the turbocharged 2.5 in the TT-RS is a great engine with no agrarian aspirations. It just wants to get up and go!

  • avatar
    vbofw

    These are the best photos I ever remember seeing on a review. Close ups are outstanding, they aren’t just the normal box-checking photos.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Thanks! I appreciate the feedback.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        Alex continues to set a high bar in writing, photography and video. Great stuff.

        How come no words on the clock? Its a time honored TTAC tradition to praise or bemoan the clock as a metaphor for the car itself.

        Where I am VW is aggressive on the Jetta often being cheaper than the Japanese/Korean alternatives. Granted it looks even more conservative than the Asians prompting this current VW phase as “german camrys”. The Golf hatches are more expensive given they have a certain hipster chique.

    • 0 avatar
      supremebrougham

      I was thinking the same thing. Very nice work!!!

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Looks like Volkswagen made a great Impala.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Well in all fairness Honda came out with an Impala (Accord) first… (Meanwhile the real thing (Chevy Impala) has 300hp standard now.)

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Based on what? The Impala handles like a soft American road car, has a small backseat considering its exterior length, and seems to be target-engineered for fleet and rental duty.

      I guess they both have nasty fake wood on the dash.

      Big with bland exterior styling does not an Impala make.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Big soft inexpensive bland mobile that doesn’t deserve a second look from enthusiasts? Check, check, check, double check.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The Passat probably doesn’t deserve a second look from enthusiasts. But I’m guessing it is nowhere near as soft, numb, and old-school as an Impala, even though the 300hp Chevy would roast this thing off the line.

        Anyhow, we’re going to have to define “enthusiast” here, because big bloated battleship Panthers have quite a following on this site.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Yeah I enthusiast in the narrow exclusive sense, I don’t usually do that. Shouldn’t knock any car till you’ve tried it, either American or foreign.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        If you haven’t driven a 2012 Impala yet, you really should. Trust me, I’ve been in seemingly every Impala produced since 2006, and the new 3.6/6-speed auto truly changed the car! It’s still very comfortable, but no longer nearly as floaty. It’s got power to spare, and gets better fuel economy than the old 3.9 pushrod (to say nothing of the fuel-guzzling SS V8 model – which had 3 less HP!). They didn’t do much to the interior – still mostly cheap stuff – but it works. They actually did redesign the plasti-wood trim, though. Now it looks less like Grandma’s Casket-grade burled walnut and more AMG-grade graphite-stained elm or something. Still obviously fake, but again, it works.

        The only thing that kind of stinks is that they increased the front ride height over the wheels by a good inch or two, so it sits all wrong now. It constantly looks like the front has spacers. Drives shockingly well, though!

      • 0 avatar
        NightFlight

        @ KalapanaBlack

        I’ve rented dozens of Impalas, and driven the ’12 for a 800 mile road trip in early January.

        I honestly think you are pushing it a lot. It isn’t great in the least and it still needs to be put out to pasture. Yes, the powertrain is light years ahead of the old lump but it is still a terrible car that drives awful.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      SHhh….Zackman will wash your mouth out with soap if he hears you heaping scorn on the Impala:-)

  • avatar
    sjhwilkes

    Yes VW have exchanged their Euro/sporty pretensions, for the mass market, sales will rise, but former customers will go elsewhere. Makes sense for VW USA and for us – the 3 series leases so well it’s not that big a hardship for those of us ex-Passat owners either.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I think this is smart for VW to not compete with Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      It makes more sense as there is no Skoda, Seat, or similar representative of the VW Empire in America to go for the bottom of the market. They appear to be getting more aggressive with Audi in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      The Passat really never did compete with the A4 here in the United States even though in the past the two were very comparable. Speaking from conversations with dealer principal friends of mine, the amount of cross-shopping wasn’t that great and the number of people who traded *down* from an A4 to a Passat, especially in the past five years or so, were negligible.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Really, no rear seat HVAC vents at all? Even our old 1999 base Prizm had vents under the front seats.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    This car is a good call on VW’s part. VW does things best when done simply, and they get bonus points for rear seat room. This may not seem like a big deal, but try fitting a modern rear facing infant car seat into an older Jetta and you’ll see the value to a US consumer.

    That being said, I do really, really miss the Passat wagon. Maybe some sympatheic soul at VW will at least give the ‘party faithul’ a stick shift turbo Passat Alltrak..

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      I still don’t see the big deal. 99% of existing midsize owners can fit an infant seat into their Accord/Camry/Altima/Malibu/Fusion with no problem. Why convert to a VW?

  • avatar
    stryker1

    This makes sense to me. Previously I could not understand why they introduced the CC next to the passat at nearly the same price. Except for the styling they seemed to have too much overlap. Now it all makes sense.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Can someone please tell me why VW isn’t offering gasoline turbo engines in the U.S.? Is fuel quality lower in America? US market 91 octane should be the same that Euro market 95E? Or not? Or is American car buying public sceptical of turbo engines in family saloons? Memories from the 80’s of failure-prone domestic turbo engines? Euro market has reliable high-tech direct injection 1.8 and 2.0 gasoline turbo engines that provide more horsepower, more torque, broader torque curve and lower mpg numbers. But US still gets this naturally aspirated 5-banger from the stone age.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      They are too expensive to manufacture for a market with low gas prices, like the US. They make more sense (cost/benefit wise) in the land of $8/gallon gas.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        So how is Hyundai/Kia selling a host of 1.6L Turbo and 2.0 Turbo engines in cars like the Veloster, Sonata, Sportage, and Optima?

        Or Ford, selling a ton of its Ecoboost turbo engines?

        Or Chevy selling its 1.4L Turbo in the Sonic and Cruze?

        Yes, they are more expensive to manufacture, but people are buying them like crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      Squirrel19

      They do. GTI, GLI, (I think) CC, Tiguan, Tuareg(sp). All of those have Gas-turbo engines. And agreed on the bad gas mileage, as their 2.0 turbo does about as well as the 5-banger, but on premium gas unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Not sure why Volkswagen doesn’t offer an aluminum block 4 valve per cylinder engine instead of their old design 5 cylinder. However, gasoline isn’t expensive enough to justify a maximum efficiency direct injection turbo engine. Turbo engines drop in power output on hot summer days and they tend to require more maintenance. It’s a major hardship for an American to give up use of one’s car for any days it’s in the shop. In addition, a lot of US driving is stop and go with acceleration from a dead stop. A combination of acceleration and a quick lane change is the difference between freedom and getting stuck looking at the back of a big slow moving vehicle. Turbo lag means you get the extra power after it’s needed.

      • 0 avatar
        faygo

        @George B :

        modern turbo engines don’t have appreciable lag, don’t require any more maintenance than non-turbo engines, are not any less reliable and don’t have meaningfully different performance with heat. I think you are imagining 80s turbos.

        VW realized that they had no need to go for power or ultimate refinement when they were selling a dumbed down car to a non-involved customer. so no reason to include a high-content, high-cost engine.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbobjoe

      Wikipedia says that “the 2.5L will eventually be phased out by a more economical 1.8TSI 158 bhp engine.” The NY Times website says that Car and Driver says that the 1.8 will have 200 hp.

      I can’t tell if this engine is already being used in the US. Maybe they needed more time to adjust it for US regulations. Or perhaps it was a supply chain/assembly issue. (The 2.5 5 cylinder is also found in US Beetles and Jettas, however I suspect that it will be eliminated from those cars as well.)

      Either way, this engine is just a temporary solution for now.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Can someone please tell me why VW isn’t offering gasoline turbo engines in the U.S.?”

      VW offers gas turbos in most of its US lineup. But not in the Passat.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        Exactly. And this new Passat simply isn’t the type of car a turbo four makes sense in. It’s large, comfortable, and feature-laden. The five-vs-four doesn’t make much sense, other than that VW didn’t care to develop a new engine for the car. The 2.0T would make next to zero sense in this vehicle.

        The Sonata/Optima are outliers with slightly sporting pretensions, and the new Fusion is smaller (now more Euro-friendly – the opposite direction of the Passat’s movement) and also has sporting pretensions. Nothing else in the class offers turbo-fours.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      The Jetta, Beetle, GTI, CC, and Tiguan all have a 2.0 liter turbo option.

    • 0 avatar
      VWdriver

      Hey Rumplestilskin VW has been selling 1.8T and now the 2.0T for over a decade in the US. This 5 cylinder was designed by the same guy who designed the Lamborghini engine. This Passat with a 5 cylinder gets mileage as good as my 1.8T Audi TT, while coming in at just 10hp less.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    “This Passat is no longer a Volvo/Acura competitor”

    Honda buyers who want something special go to Acura. Toyota buyers to go Lexus. Nissan drivers go to Infinity. Maybe it’s time for VW buyers to go to Audi. Last I checked, an A4 quattro stick-shift was about $31k–just a notch or two higher than the Passat.

  • avatar
    Hank

    “Volkswagen’s “premium” image in the minds of car enthusiasts is not entirely accurate.”

    Not entirely accurate? That’s very kind. I’d say delusional.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      A Jetta feels a lot more premium than a Corolla*.

      * For folks who value safety, ride comfort, handling and can deal with an extra repair or two vs. a Corolla.

      • 0 avatar
        Hank

        I disagree that they make premium products. I’ve driven both. A Jetta has a very different dynamic that appeals more to certain kinds of drivers, but it doesn’t feel premium. Even before the cost-cutting, you could find cheaper cars with equal or better materials.

        A Benz is premium. A BMW is premium. An Audi is premium. A Passat of any generation? Nope.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “A Passat of any generation? Nope.”

        I bought an 04′ Passat after comparing it with an Accord. The Accord was substantially louder, rougher riding and and far less substantial feeling. The Passat was quieter, smother, and better handling and had better material quality.

        I don’t know what your definition of premium is but smoother, quieter, better handling with higher quality materials, to me, equals premium.

        It’s not nearly as premium as a c-class but an ’04 Passat was several notches ahead of the Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Even before the cost-cutting, you could find cheaper cars with equal or better materials (than the Jetta).”

        Really? What cars are you thinking of?

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The Euro-based Passat was about on par with the Euro Accord.

        The Euro-models like the Hyundai i40 and Toyota Avensis are like what the Passat used to be in the US (and what it still is in Europe).

      • 0 avatar
        Hank

        The Mazda3 offers just as dynamic a drive, and a good interior, for example. You should know, I’m not the typical TTAC soft-dash-fetishist, and so don’t think that a Jetta with a soft dash means I bought “premium.” Like I said, a Benz/BMW/Audi VWs are not, nor have they ever been. A few isolated forays into being cheapened up Audis doesn’t mean much to me.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The Mazda3 doesn’t support your assertion above. There is nothing premium about that car except steering feel and suspension tuning. I still really like it though.

        Yeah, I’ve heard the “Jetta is a budget Bimmer” line and I think it is full of baloney too. But when folks called the MKV Jetta “premium”, I think most meant in relation to other cars in the compact class. As far as driving position, seat comfort, interior materials, steering & suspension refinement, & noise isolation, I think they have a valid point. Reliability & powertrain performance? No. Compared to a Benz? No. But it comes closer than a Civic.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Also US market gets really shafted by VW-Group – reason is the absence of Skoda. Europe gets Skoda Superb – its lot bigger than Passat, or Camcord. Its fwd platform shares lot of components with Passat (read – it drives like Passat), it gets the same engines, gearboxes and technology and it has same high quality interior. Only it costs less than Passat – only because of VW’s brand positioning and european car buyers preconseptions of the Skoda brand.

  • avatar
    deanst

    apparently there are plans to replace the 5 cylinder engine with a 1.8 L turbo.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    For some reason, that dashboard looks very much like an updated version of my 98 3.2TL dashboard, fake wood and all.

    However, for the same amount of money I’d get a different car with an SEL trim level. A Taurus.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    ” . . . the Passat’s agility, which I subjectively place somewhere between a Camry and a Mazda 6 . . .”

    Thanks for that comparison, Alex, as I’m cross-shopping the Passat and Mazda6. Out of curiosity, where would you (subjectively) put the Accord in that ranking? Would it be Camry < Passat < Accord < Mazda6?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Compared to other recent VWs I like the plain look of this one, what the heck is a “character line”?

    If anything, VW just revived the Ford 500.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I still wouldn’t buy a VW regardless of how ‘mass market’ they try to remake themselves as. Solely because of the difficulty of repairing a VW/Audi. Few cars require as many ‘special tools’ as VW/Audi.

    To me a mass market car must have a $60 alternator attached by 3 bolts. That is a mass market car.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I wouldn’t pay $28K to have the same engine that my MkV Jetta has. It’s fine in a $20K car. But not for something pushing 30 grand.

    The Passat is comfortable and roomy, but most midsizers are these days. And the five cylinder that seemed so powerful compared to competitors of the Jetta is badly outmatched by the I-4s in the new Camry and Sonata/Optima.

    In base 5-spd manual trim, this car is a decent proposition. But this SEL wouldn’t lure me away from a similarly priced Mazda 6, Altima, or Camry SE. The previous Passat would.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Those trunk hinges are a disgrace. They had nice ones on the 1999 A4, why can’t they have it on this?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Because Camry buyers don’t care about trunk hinges.

    • 0 avatar
      livelifedrive

      Swan neck hinges are the only hinge designs (for cheap cars) that can be made automatic. Those nice struts that doesn’t take up rear boot space are both more expensive, and impossible to mechanize.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Because the trunk struts used for a while wear out eventually and cost a bit of money to replace. The ugly hinges they’re using (that my A2 Jettas also sported) do the job reliably for years even if they look ugly and intrude into the luggage area. I guess it’s good that it’s one less thing to break and it also makes the car cost less.

  • avatar
    bd2

    While I don’t mind the greenhouse of the Passat, the front and rear fascias are quite bland.

    Having clean lines doesn’t have to = bland; just look at the Kia Optima.

    Ironically, the rear of the Passat looks a lot like the old Optima, one that people wouldn’t bother to give a 1st glance, much less a 2nd.

  • avatar
    segxr7

    VW really needs to boost their power output to semi-modern standards. Ford and Mazda were getting 170hp out of 2.5 liters (Duratec and K-series V6s) almost 20 years ago!

    I still can’t believe they reintroduced the 2.0 making the same pathetic 115 hp. That thing was dangerously underpowered in my sister’s 5-speed Cabrio (passing on a 2-lane road was simply out of the question); I can’t imagine how bad it would be in an automatic Jetta. I’m surprised they could even get that ancient boat anchor to pass today’s emissions standards.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    I solid review Alex. I’ve driven all the current midsizers and I’d take the Passat over any of them…Even a Sonata SE or Limited. While the Sonata has a fresh interior; the Passat, to me is still a step up in materials quality.

    The rear seat is limo like and the ride/handling combo is spot on for the segment (let’s face it, Sonata/Kia still as A LOT of chassis tuning work to do – and I’m a Hyundai fan – they just need better tuning – or new engineers).

    The 2.5L gets a bad rap in my opinion. It comes very close to the economy of the other’s 4-bangers in real world driving and has much more midrange torque…and sounds cool in a strange way.

    To me, easily the best buy in the midsize segment – and it shows as VW is selling them as fast as they build them.

    I agree, the VW fanboyz need to take a chill pill…or go find a used previous gen Passat…

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The quality of materials in the Passat is a bit better than the Sonata (which will get an upgrade for its refresh), but not quite as good as in the Optima.

      Kia should really use the suspension tuning of its Austrialian subsidiary; they have it done right.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Alex didn’t mention road noise levels, and I distinctly remember a VW employee literally stating that the pre-production Passat (this one) had road noise levels that were extraordinarily high on some forum.

  • avatar

    The 2.5 liter needs to be juiced up a little more. Uncorked 5 cylinder engines have an awesome sound that you can’t get anywhere else aside from a Lambo v10.

    As for the Americanized Passat, it’s exactly as VW intended it to be: A giant interior on wheels. A bigger Versa, or a smaller Ford 500. I don’t think it will be long before this becomes the new design trend, as every single time a company creates a lightweight car with a far bigger interior than its size would indicate (Versa, Jetta, new Passat, Kia Soul), it sells like hotcakes. Even the Fug Ford 500 sold well for awhile.

    Haters gon’ hate, but the fact remains, VW still has the Golf, Jetta Sportwagen and the CC to cater to those who bought the previous gen Passat (all three of you) and the old Jetta.

    Back in the day I used to work at a VW dealership as a salesman and was woefully unsuccessful. If the New American Sedans were available back then, I might have lasted longer than a month at that job.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Also, “optional AWD (although the rumor mill says it may be available later)”

    I don’t know about you, but I saw the rear drive tunnel in the Passat. Not sure if that means the Passat gets an AWD same-chassis different body variant or if the VR6 model gets the AWD/tc auto setup from the CC, but something is clearly planned that spins all 4 wheels.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I think this car will sell like crazy. Look at it as a downgraded Passat or an upgraded Jetta but it’s lower prices, increased interior room, TDI and V6 availability combined with a large trunk, reasonable real world gas mileage, enough tech equipment for the intended market and prices that won’t break the bank will instantly garner more respect with the CamCord crowd. It’s no wonder this car has won awards from some of the magazines.

  • avatar
    CA Guy

    I live in a beach city in Southern California and travel back and forth through the upscale communities of the west side of LA. The streets and parking lots are full of new Passats (and quite a few Jettas). It appears that VW has struck a perfectly timed market sweet spot in selling new, lower-priced models with somewhat upscale images in the middle of a bad economy. We may bemoan the decontenting, etc. and I wouldn’t buy one based on my VW experiences but they are attracting buyers. One thing I’ve noticed is that their simple lines are accented by very attractive paint jobs. Will be interesting to see how they hold up.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Had one of these as a rental a couple of weeks ago – it’s a nice mainstream sedan, with a creamy ride, extremely quiet interior and decent materials. Not “sporty” at all, but then neither are most of its competitors.

    The 2.5 seems to me to be a great engine for the car’s intended market. As much power as most need, and with a very cool offbeat 5-cylinder engine note.

    Would I buy one? Nah, I’ll keep my S4.

    Is it better-suited for volume sales in the US market than all of its predecessors? No question.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Both the Jetta and Passat are success stories. Now all VW has to do is jack this Passat up six inches or so, give it beefier bodywork, a third row of seating, and a strange name, and they’ll be able to sell 50-60K more. Big CUVs SELL. VW needs one.


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