By on October 21, 2015

2016 Volkswagen Passat (2 of 14)

2016 Volkswagen Passat

1.8-liter TSI EA888 DOHC I-4, turbocharged, variable intake timing, direct injection (170 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm; 184 lbs-ft @ 1,500 rpm)

3.6-liter FSI VR6 DOHC V-6, variable intake and exhaust timing (280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 2,500 rpm)

6-speed automatic transmission [1.8 TSI] or 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission [VR6]

25 city/38 highway/29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG [1.8 TSI])

20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG [VR6])

Base Price (S TSI): $23,265*

* All prices include $825 destination fee.

“What brings you to Vermont?” asked the young woman I was sitting beside on my flight to Burlington to drive the newly refreshed Passat.

“Volkswagen,” I replied simply.

After a pause, and with an eyebrow raised, she came back with the question: “Diesel?”

This is how every conversation about Volkswagen will start for years to come. And, to be fair, it’s also how we’ve talked about Volkswagen for the last 20 years — minus the eyebrow. Volkswagen is as intrinsically connected with diesel as Vermont is to small-town values that border on being Canadianesque.

Except now, conversations about Volkswagen diesels are punctuated with that eyebrow — and for all the wrong reasons.

2016 Volkswagen Passat (1 of 14)

With that in mind, let’s tackle the diesel question as it relates to the Passat as much as we can, right now.

Volkswagen of America is just like the above Passat when it comes to diesel — frosty. When asked, typical replies were given: We are working on a fix. We have nothing new to share today. All three generations of diesel engines may require different fixes. They all need to be certified by the EPA. It’s going to take a long time.

However, that doesn’t seem to be stopping Volkswagen from building diesel-engined models. Passat TDIs are coming off the assembly line in Chattanooga without front fascias. However, Volkswagen refuses to speak about it beyond canned responses. “We don’t discuss the day-to-day operations within our factory,” was the answer we were given.

Now that we have the topic of diesel covered, here’s what we can tell you about the cars we actually drove.

2016 Volkswagen Passat (8 of 14)

Exterior
You’d be forgiven if you’re unable to point out what makes the new Passat new. Speaking with JC Pavone, exterior designer of the pre-refresh Passat, design at Volkswagen is done with Teutonic, mindful purpose as VW makes a concerted effort to help its cars gracefully age. So far — and criticisms of being boring aside — that’s worked for the automaker. Can you think of a single previous-generation Passat that looks ungainly today?

Up front, the Passat is still distinctly a Volkswagen, and still distinctly a Passat. However, anything that was slightly rounded in the previous model has now been given a hard edge. That means thinner headlights with sharper corners, a stronger-looking hood with two levels of doming, a grille that ties its top horizontal bar together with the newly eye-lined forward lighting and a stylish chin that foregoes faux brake ducting for well-designed fog lamps. The designers left their protractors in their desks, bringing them out only to draw the Volkswagen emblem sitting in the grille.

To the side, chrome brightens up the Passat’s greenhouse openings and a chrome bar is placed a few inches above the rocker panels to exude a premium exterior look, even on base S models. Wheels measure between 16 inches for the base S model, up to 19 inches on the R-Line trim for the Big Dub Vdub crowd. From base S model to the next step R-Line trim, that means the largest wheel you can get on a Passat isn’t on the most expensive models. Top-trim SEL and SEL Premium models make do with 18-inch alloys.

Keen observers may identify some intriguing changes at the rear. For starters, the badging has been moved from the top of the trunk lid to the bottom — which is not very important. However, Volkswagen is adding trim level badging to the Passat to better help Volkswagen salespeople and auction staff more easily identify the midsizer without having to remember what trim pieces and wheel styles belong to what particular Passat.

Only the R-Line changes any major ingredient in this recipe. It’s given a unique front bumper, rocker panels and rear diffuser along with those massive 19-inch wheels.

2016 Volkswagen Passat (10 of 14)

Interior
The Passat changes a fair bit on the inside, but more in the technology department than with seating and other simpler amenities.

Small stuff first: The new Passat receives an upgraded instrument panel that’s very much like the one used in the Golf. Unfortunately, the Volkswagen sedan still relies on a dot matrix display between the two analog gauges, even in upper trims. Also, a new frameless rearview mirror has been employed on the new Passat to kick class up a notch on higher trims. I’ve never been impressed by a rearview mirror, and I’m still not, but it does look much more expensive than one with a flat black plastic frame. Other touches, such as bezels around vents and cupholders and such, have also been changed for 2016.

As before, Passat will easily accommodate four adults, plus one of smaller stature in middle back seat in a pinch. The rear of the Passat is cavernous when nobody sitting in the middle, and the drop-down armrest adds a nice touch to the overall experience. Conversely, even though the front does offer more cubes of volume, it only feels average in terms of room.

Incredibly comfortable, eight-way power adjustable seating is offered in all trims except the base S trim. While Volkswagen claims a high-level of adjustability, the front seats feel a bit tall even at their lowest position. Also, those of you who need to adjust lumbar support in the vertical axis may be disappointed as two-way lumbar is the only option available. That said, if you can make the seats work for your body shape, they are plush and supportive, rivalling Nissan’s Zero Gravity seating in comfort. Base and R-Line thrones are wrapped in cloth, SE models receive V-Tex leatherette, and SEL and higher models get honest-to-goodness leather.

For your stuff, Passat provides 15.9 cubes to fill in the trunk.

2016 Volkswagen Passat (13 of 14)

Technology

And this is where I finally praise Volkswagen for technology.

Not only has Volkswagen updated its infotainment with a new software system — dubbed MIB II — it also comes with standard USB ports (!!!) and Bluetooth. All those MDI connectors are history. Good riddance.

Those USB ports are going to come in handy for those with iPhones and Android devices as a hard-wired connection is required to use Apple CarPlay. The Passat also supports Android Auto, but I didn’t get a chance to test it out since I’m an Apple fanboi to the worst degree. Oh, and there’s MirrorLink, which appears to be a similar thing for phones you buy on sale from Cricket.

MIB II is offered in two screen sizes — 5 and 6.3 inches — and three different flavors – Composition Color (S, R-Line), Composition Media (SE), and Discover Media (SE w/ Tech and higher). The last flavor brings with it navigation and all the smartphone connectivity goodies.

About CarPlay: It really is the best thing on earth. As someone who uses an iPhone, iPad and multiple Apple computers throughout the day (my fanboism is strong), jumping in your car and being welcomed by a familiar interface is comforting and easy. Sure, it can’t do a lot, like change any of the vehicle specific settings that are available through MIB, but once you have your infotainment setup the way you want it, there’s really no need to ever use the MIB II interface — ever.

Well, unless you hate Apple Maps, which you should because its the only mistake ever made by Apple. Ever.

Other than the normal assortment of airbags and such, the Passat is now available with a full suite of active safety gear and driver assistance systems.

The big one Volkswagen pushed on this trip was Automatic Post-Collision Braking. If the vehicle senses an airbag deployment, it will automatically bring the vehicle to a stop. We asked Volkswagen if we could test it, but unfortunately they declined.

Adaptive Cruise Control, which comes standard on SE models and higher, is controlled through the instrument panel display and works quite well, even on twisty mountain roads. However, thanks to the dot matrix display through which you control ACC, the experience isn’t the best. ACC also won’t bring you to a full stop, so this solution is for highway-speed driving only and not for the stop-and-crawl daily commute.

Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, which do exactly what they say, are equipped on SE and higher models. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert come standard on SE w/ Technology models and up. Lane Assist and Park Assist are equipped on SEL Premium models as standard.

Powertrain

Well, there’s no diesel, at least for now. That leaves just the 1.8-liter TSI and 3.6-liter VR6 to do duty in the Passat for now.

Considering the take rate for the V-6 is between 3 and 5 percent, I opted to stay in the TSI. Also, with the Passat, there’s really no need to go up to the V-6.

Why? Performance. The 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine cranks out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s more than enough for a family sedan, especially one that’s only available with front-wheel drive and pours on the torque at 1,500 rpm.

Volkswagen has been able to make the TSI more efficient with this refresh by installing underbody panels to smooth aerodynamics and an HVAC compressor that can be decoupled. It all adds up to a 2 mpg increase on the highway cycle, on top of the 2 mpg gain made last year.

If you are one of those three to five percent of Passat buyers opting for the V-6, be prepared to pay for it. The VR6 is only available starting at the SEL trim level. For 2016, the V-6 is recommended to be run with regular fuel, but you better pump in premium if you want the full 280 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque.

2016 Volkswagen Passat (4 of 14)

Drive

When it comes to family sedans, almost every model has a trump card. The Camry has a halo of perceived reliability. The Altima brings value to the table. The Fusion has small-displacement turbocharged engines mated to all-wheel drive if that’s your thing. Chrysler will give you all-wheel drive with a V-6 and Subaru with an H-6.

What does Passat have? What’s its trump card? It used to be diesel, and without the TDI mill it’s difficult to find something the Passat does much better than any other car.

That’s not to say the Passat is a bad car. Or boring. Or anything really negative. It’s actually incredibly comfortable, handles as well as a family midsize can, and delivers a ride that’s definitely better than average. However, it’s really difficult to put those qualities in a marketing brochure that promotes quantifiable characteristics above all.

So, to that girl on the plane I say this: Yes, diesel, and it needs to come back sooner rather than later. Until then, no matter how good the Passat is, it won’t have its ace. Instead, it will be sitting at the poker table, struggling to play a fistful of deuces.

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat starts at $22,440 for the S 1.8T automatic plus $825 for delivery. Top-trim V-6 SEL Premium models will retail for $36,835. The Chattanooga-built 2016 Passat will go on sale later this year.

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130 Comments on “2016 Volkswagen Passat First Drive – Sensical Change...”


  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    “MIB II is offered in two screen sizes — 5 and 6.3 inches — and three different flavors – Composition Color (S, R-Line), Composition Media (SE), and Discover Media (SE w/ Tech and higher). The last flavor brings with it navigation and all the smartphone connectivity goodies.”

    I was lead to believe that all CarPlay head units would offer turn-by-turn navigation straight from the phone. Is that not the case with the Composition head units? If it is the case, why upgrade to the Discover head unit? Larger screen, better resolution? What are the “smartphone connectivity goodies” included with the Discover head unit?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I believe that Discover gets you *onboard* nav, not phone-based nav.

      After all, not everyone has an iPhone … yet.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. CarPlay gives you in-dash Apple Maps. The navigation I am referring to is the MIB II native navigation.

        • 0 avatar
          LeMansteve

          What advantages does the VW-designed nav system provide over the CarPlay/Apple Maps? I am trying to understand why anyone would upgrade to the more expensive Discover when you can already get nav in the lower level Composition. Historically, in-dash navigation has typically been a very expensive option. With the proliferation of CarPlay and smartphones, nav is essentially “free”.

          Surely most people who are getting into a new Passat already have a smartphone with maps, and can utilize CarPlay or Android Auto.

          • 0 avatar
            ap27

            Only one I can think of is if you’re on a roadtrip and out of cell coverage (or in another country and don’t want to pay for roaming data), the onboard nav would come in handy.

            Also, apparently the new MIB II systems support lossless audio playback, which may appeal to some audiophiles

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I have in dash navigation on our Rav4 and also an iPhone. The advantage of the in dash is that it doesn’t eat away at your data or your battery on a trip. The voice instructions of the navigation also chime in regardless to what you are listening to. Not having a legit carplay option in the Rav, I have to be listening to music on the iPhone to get the voice commands over the vehicle speakers. Of course, with CarPlay, this is probably better integrated. It boils down to this. I’ll use phone maps for short trips and vehicle based maps for longer trips.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            As in-car infotainment moves to mirroring smartphones, manufacturers are moving towards subscription-based models to have the ability to use all the baked-in features.

            VW already has Car-Net. It’s really unclear though what parts of the App-Connect suite are usable without the subscription though. I doubt VW is just going to give away the free profit of a built-in Nav system. Instead you’ll have the opportunity to pay for an app, monthly, forever.

          • 0 avatar
            boozysmurf

            To those concerned about cellphone data plans (and, legit concern there) there are other options than just the baked-in maps programs.

            If you want to go the cheap route, I’ve been using “HERE” maps (the new, rebranded version of Nokia Maps) on my Nexus6 for six months, and it’s fantastic. Set it up ahead of time (ie. download the maps for your state/province/country) and you’re good to go, with zero data usage. Downside, there’s no landscape mode for it yet: it doesn’t auto-rotate with your device)

            If you want something even more polished (and that includes landscape ode) then you’re looking at about forty bucks for SYGIC maps. Again, download the region/province/state/country on wifi, then set it to offline mode and you’re in zero data usage.

            caveat, I’ve not used either of these with carplay/similar. As soon as I’m around a dealership with cars in stock that have the feature, I’m going to test-drive, and try it out. I don’t know how limiting the automotive interface is on what 3rd party apps work over it?

  • avatar

    As soon as I hear the word Volkswagon, I immediately have flashbacks to “diesel scandal”.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Doesn’t “flashback” mean receiving a flash from long-term memory for something a little older than one month?

      Like, to a mugging 10 years ago, or to the Challenger Disaster, or maybe to when Pee Wee Herman got busted?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      when I hear VW, I can’t stop imagining concentration camp workers working to death

      • 0 avatar
        palincss

        Do you think of them when you hear Mercedes, Audi or BMW? Forced labor was common throughout the German war economy, and hardly confined to the VW factory. Do you think of Pearl Harbor when you hear Mitsubishi?

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        When I hear VW all I can see is my poor uncle, who runs a foreign repair shop, tearing apart there junk Mexican made engines with head problems, valve issues and numerous leaks. The customer’s come in droves with strange excessive oil consumption issues, ticks knocks etc and apart comes the engines. Then there are the carbon-ed up valves from DI. Whether this new 1.8T wonder continues this tradition has yet to be seen but from what I have seen it is hardly a powerhouse and gets considerably better MPG than the old 2.5 5 cylinder engine.

        Did VW change the seats for 2016. I sat in several and remember not being at all impressed with the hardness of the seats. they wee like sitting on stone park benches. Hopefully the 2016 addresses that some.

  • avatar
    sproc

    I understand why they feel they have to offer a V-6, but it seems pretty pointless in this application. I think the A3 engine choices would make much more sense. That version of the 2.0T would be a nice performance bump in the upper trims, offers just as much torque, and I have to assume it would be a weight savings.

    I think it’s pretty sharp looking, though, and I appreciate hearing some real-world impressions of MIB II.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Given how BIG the Passat has become I’d love see a head to head between the 2016 V6 Passat and the current V6 Impala.

      Every review I’ve ever read of them always has to mention the “limo like rear seat leg room”.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      sproc, I agree the 2.0T would be a logical engine upgrade in this car. But my engine complaint with the Passat (and Jetta, and Golf) isn’t the diesel — it’s the standard 1.8T.

      To the best of my limited understanding, earlier 2.0T Volkswagens with direct injection suffered from severe carbon-buildup problems. Lexus and other makers found ways to minimize this problem, either by also using port injection simultaneously to wash down the surfaces, or by controlling valve timing in a nearly Atkinson-cycle manner.

      If I remember correctly, the new edition of the 2.0T used in both VW and Audi models has taken steps to prevent the problem. But VW hasn’t bothered to implement the fix in the cheaper 1.8. So if you don’t mind periods of decaying performance alternating with a couple sessions of your VW stealership bombarding your engine’s innards with walnut-shell abrasive at extortionary prices, this is the “value” sedan for you.

      Just not for me.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The issue is not with Direct Injection itself. Direct Injection does not CAUSE the carbon build up. The issue is that Direct Injection does not mask a different problem – blow by and poor PCV systems that can’t separate out the gunk that is venting out of the crankcase. Port injection cleans the effects of blow by off the valves/intake (at least assuming you are using decent gas with high levels of detergent, and/or using something like Techron occasionally).

        The real solution is to improve the PCV system so that all the gunk is not getting dumped into the intake system to start with. This is the approach that BMW has taken with their latest generation of DI engines, and so far it seems to be working. I would be HIGHLY surprised if VW has not also done this across the board. Carbon buildup has been an issue with even some port injected engines for many years now.

        Personally, I am OK with the tradeoff of some increased maintenance down the road in trade for increased power and economy now. I would rather pay a mechanic than pay an oil company, and the increased power is a benefit from day one.

        This is also another reason why you need to stick to the manufacturer’s specified oil spec. The OIL is engineered to reduce this issue as well.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Wtong etong and wribg. Even wrong. Direct injection causes nano particle soot due to incomplete mixing of fuel and air with larger fuel droplets not competely combusting. Manifold injection allows better air fuel mixture by using shaped flow paths to create swirl tumble and turbulent flow.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Completely irrelevant to the issue of intake and intake valve deposits. The valves are shut when the mixture ignites. Any added soot goes right out the tailpipe.

            As mentioned, BMW has had to walnut shell blast port injected engines going right back to the early ’80s when cheap gas with insufficient detergent and/or the wrong oil was used in the cars. They have a history of marginal PCV systems, and the DI motors REALLY cast a spotlight on that. Seems to be largely fixed now with the 2nd generation DI motors, soon to be 3rd generation.

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            Not even close. Google incomplete exhaust scavenging and also read up on egr.

            The real soution is to regulate nano particle emissions levels….or just better designed port injection systems. Cant change stoichiometric ratios regardless of where the fuel is injected.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The 2012 Honda Civic wants its grill back.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    For me the trump card for the Passat is how it looks, and that it simply FEELS German, even in the old cost-cut American versions. The new one looks great, though I am not wild about the oh-so-trendy flat fender edges.

    If I had to buy a mid-size sedan this would be the one. Shame we don’t get a wagon here.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t look nearly as bad as a lot of current cars, but I don’t think it looks great by any stretch. If it didn’t have those stupid lines on the hood, I probably would give it a “good”. They detract from the otherwise clean styling.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    “If the vehicle senses an airbag deployment, it will automatically bring the vehicle to a stop.”

    That seems kind of like closing the barn door after the horses are out.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      What about an offset or side-impact scenario where the vehicle might still be rolling uncontrolled after the hit? Auto-braking might prevent the car from driving into a ditch or worse.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        Having been T boned by a drunk in the middle of the day, I can definitely see the value in a feature like this. I was hit hard enough that I briefly lost my sense of direction not to mention my feet and hands were knocked off the wheel and pedals. By the time I realized what had happened I was rim riding a 4 ft deep ditch. If not for the ditch the aftermath could have been much worse, it scrubbed a lot of speed and kept me from veering off and hitting something else.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        That is exactly the idea, yep.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Whats the issue with dot matrix between the gauges?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not 2007 anymore. LCDs are cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I like the trip computer being mounted in between the speedo and tach, be it LCD or otherwise. I’d like it to be separate from the radio when I yank out the touchscreen fail for an actual, cd/radio.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        OK, so they are cheap, but why do I need flashy backlit hi res graphics to tell me my average economy?

        My Verano has a dot matrix look LCD, and my brothers Sierra has the newer GM system with the full color high res screen, but it doesn’t show any more info except the radio station, and it actually adds more light to the cluster at night, which I dont care for.

        Just like touch screen HVAC, I don’t believe newer is necessarily better here.

        http://ip.dlron.us/assets/inventory/photos/1373/1g4pr5sk7f4149860-6.jpg

        This is sufficient IMO

        • 0 avatar

          You’re right. When it is just text, dot matrix is fine. However. screen is difficult to read when you’re trying to set the distance for radar cruise and a few other features that have graphical elements.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Thanks for clarifying, I wasnt sure what kind of info was being displayed there. If you’re having to use it for settings beyond the US/Metric setting that comes up in the Verano’s center display, I can see why you might want a higher quality display.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    It was one of my 3 choices at Alamo at St. Pete Airport last week. Yay! Could not get to drive it as it sat between a Sonata and a Chrysler 200, both with functioning trunklids. The VW, on the other hand refused to open its trunk. The Alamo attendant was as baffled as we were as we opened the the Chryslers trunk, and loaded our suitcases. Some things never change.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Do you like flying into St Pete better than Tampa?

      Not that I have much of a choice because there are no flights to Detroit from PIE.

    • 0 avatar
      IndigoCoyote

      There is a button inside the glove box in the Passat that defeats the trunk lock mechanism, I assume for security reasons. Not shocked your attendant couldn’t figure it out. You can defeat the trunk lid and then lock your glove box, so that the valet key cannot get one into the trunk.

      Say what you want about the Americanized Passat, but it has been perfect for me as a real estate agent. Huge comfortable back seat, huge trunk where my street signs actually fit, and a very comfortable ride for my clients. The legacy 2.5 5 cylinder petrol seems to lack much in the way of torque, but this thing is a pretty decent freeway cruiser. And I get a lot better mileage than the EPA said I would. Ummm…..

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    Was my first time in the area to visit, so I couldnt tell you anything other than there are a few airports in the area! The usual Florida trip is to Ft. Lauderdale near the scuba spots. Much nicer than the mess we call Philly International, that’s for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I’ve had to connect through Philly

      (shudders)

      Never again. I’ll even take O’Hare over Philly. 95% of the time I fly direct anyway. Delta owns me, and there is nothing I can do about it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The Detroit resident shudders over Philly… well that’s all the proof I need. Yes we can; level Philadelphia.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I was referring to the airport, which should definitely be leveled.

          I’ve had both good and bad experiences in the city of Philadelphia. If you want to start leveling things in Philadelphia, please start with Lincoln Financial Field on a Sunday. Most of those people are the worst.

          • 0 avatar

            I flew through Philly on my way to this event, actually. I’ve never seen walls so dirty in my life.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Consider it done, I’ll use the same guys Silverstein used.

          • 0 avatar
            DanHumphrey

            Giants fan sez: level the Link, and maybe the rest of the city to be careful.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I like it, although if we kept the Linc for the Giants, could they stop playing in New Jersey then?

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Isn’t Philly where you need to take the bus to another terminal? So….1977…

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Ever had to walk from E38 to B19 at CLT with a tight connection? I’d rather take a bus…

            Though I am pretty sure the high number A gates at PHL are actually in Wilmington DE somewhere. That is a LOOOOONG walk, even if you take the bus to A.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think those jackasses sent me from B15 to E something on my boarding pass coming home and then upon arriving in E it was announced overhead we were moved to A something at CLT. Nice airport but too much running around for my tastes.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            God help you if you are outside at CLT at the E gates and have to go to another terminal.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yeah, Philly was THE biggest downside of switching from Delta to US Airways as my airline of choice. DTW is a fantastic airport, and a fantastic hub. Philly is a SH!TH0LE, and a horrible place to put a hub, in the most congested air space in the nation. One raindrop in 100 mile radius and your flight WILL be delayed. Being based in Maine, 80% of my trips require a connection there. I go through Reagan or Charlotte when I can.

        I have found the secrets to dealing with Philly happily are booking the longest layovers I can and an Admiral’s Club membership.

        Though I will say, if I had to choose between Atlanta and Philly, Philly every time. And I sure don’t miss Delta, their service in and out of Portland sucked 4-5 years ago. Though now I kind of wish I had ridden it out, as they are flying real airplanes here again. No 50-seaters at all, AFAIK. Easier to maintain top-tier status with them too. I’m taking a trip to Seattle next weekend pretty much JUST for the miles, because the fall from Exec Platinum to Platinum on American is like a freefall from space without a chute. It’s been a slowish year, and I took that month off to go to Europe…

        The Truth About Airlines??

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          And note – I like the city of Philadelphia perfectly well, it is just the airport that sucks. Much nicer city than Detroit!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          We do get on about airlines and aircraft a bit, don’t we?

          FWIW I used PHL twice, once in Oct 2010 to Miami and again in March 2011 on company business and I thought it was pretty nice at the time.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I take it you don’t get to many airports?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Not as many as you I imagine but in the past six years: CLT, MIA, LAS, PHL, PIT, JFK, DUB, MSY, SFO

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I’ve been to more than that in the last six weeks. And it has been a slow six weeks. Slow year actually, I will probably only end up at 115 flights or so. :-)

            To me, there are worse places than PHL for sure. ATL, ORD, JFK, LGA (Delta Terminal). O’Hare especially, because I have been stranded there at least overnight on each of my last FOUR connections through that hole. But I don’t have to go to those airports on 80% of my trips.

            United is dead to me.

            BTW, American did not buy US Airways. Other way around, US Airways bought American out of bankruptcy, but then kept the American brand. The same folks running US Airways did the same thing previously – what has been US was actually America West, who bought US out of bankruptcy and kept the brand. So really it is all America West.

            Airline mergers and acquisitions are SO much fun! I was such a happy camper flying Northwest and Continental for the first 10 years or so of my travelling career. LOVED THEM. Then Delta ate them and it all went to crap. So I switched to US, only to have them change into American, and mostly keep American’s craptastic FF program, except for the couple parts of US’s program that were worse. Sigh.

            Though through it all, I still genuinely love to fly. I just roll with whatever happens.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Technically America West bought US Airways, took the US Airways name, then bought American, and took the American name. Doug Parker has been running the show since Sept. 2001.

            I fly two out of every three weeks now, but typically it’s direct and to just two different places. Sometimes I have to go out to Arizona or California, but that is rare (for now). So most of my airport time is spent in Northwest Airlines’ World Gateway presented by Delta Airlines.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I knew you traveled much more than I but I didn’t think it was at those levels.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            115 is still quite a few. I’ll barely crack 60 this year.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          DTW is a Upper Midwest and East Coast connection dream. Relatively uncongested airspace, four parallel runways (don’t have to wait for planes to land), and a well designed terminal make for an excellent connection experience.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I prefer non stop but if heading west, DTW sounds ok. What grinds my gears is connections in places like EWR, PHL, or JFK when you are heading *west*.

            Oh btw, checking Google I see flights to YYC are in the $500 range next April. I may have to demand a trip of the Church’s followers.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Not only are you going to wrong way from PIT, but you will have to deal with all the badness those airports have to offer. The worst is being on the Tarmac at JFK and hearing the pilot say, “Ladies and gentleman, we are number 62 for take-off.” Chicago O’Hare is often like that to. DTW > ORD when travelling west from the East Coast.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve mostly flown US Air out of PIT and the hub is usually in CLT but once was routed through PHL. I am planning a trip to DEN and most of the flights layover in EWR. F that.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            If you can fly Delta for the same price as United, fly through DTW or MSP.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Delta is more but I’m using Discover miles so if I have enough I will consider it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Even American (US Airways died last week) is better than United. United is having all sorts of operational problems right now. I avoid flying them as much as possible.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Yeah down to MSY I became aware of the whole American bought US Air thing which to be honest with you I was oblivious of… pays to watch the local news I suppose (which I don’t do anymore). I’ve never flown United but looks like I won’t be doing so now. I liked Southwest and for domestic travel I will try to use them when possible.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Where in Europe?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I did Euro Delivery on an M235i. Took my Mom with me, met up with various friends here and there. So Munich-Stuttgart-Salzburg-Vienna-Budapest-Balogna-Modena-Rome-Naples-Genoa-Basil-Mulhouse-Paris. Some interesting side trips – Dachau, Herculaneum, Vatican City, San Marino. We drove up Mt. Vesuvius. BMW, Mercedes, Porsche museums, both Ferrari Museums, Schlumpf Museum. Awesome trip, even though Mom drove me a little nuts. Put 3600 miles on the car and loved every one of them. Driving in the mountains in Italy is an experience. 110mph in a 10KM tunnel and the Fiats were still passing me. :-)

            The work travel makes it all easy and cheap. FF miles for first class plane tickets, and hotel points for a month of hotel nights.

            Now BMW is killing me. The car has been at the port in NJ for a week! Last time it took 3 days from boat to my driveway for the 328!.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Quite a trip.

        • 0 avatar
          WildcatMatt

          Having grown up west of Chicago and now living in Wilmington, the one thing I can say about PHL is that it’s MUCH easier to navigate from a drop off/pick up perspective compared to ORD. Sure, I-95 sucks between the PA state line and PA-420 but at least there’s no toll.

          My dad’s got trashed joints (football in high school/college then was a catcher in a softball league for years after that) and the distance from short-term parking to security is mercifully short when he and mom come to see the grandkid.

          Of course, he was loyal to United when he flew for work (at least they rewarded his masochism, at one point they tripled his frequent flier miles for sticking by them) so when they leave they’re always departing from UAL Siberia (ie, gate C1-C4). *sigh*

          I’ll give another vote for DTW. My wife and I were long-distance dating during the renovations and they did a great job of taking a rabbit warren and turning it into something at least a little stylish.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    mark any info on manuals? does it still exist as a transmission choice?

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    “Well, unless you hate Apple Maps, which you should because its the only mistake ever made by Apple. Ever.”

    Did you write this review on your Lisa?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The Lisa aside, pretty much everything after 1991 was a mistake.

      • 0 avatar

        Blasphemy!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Um *points to pope hat* I’m the one who issues blasphemy in these parts.

          Oh and also, yes. The computers were neat but nothing groundbreaking at least into the 90s and beyond. The O/S OSX same deal, better than Windows but borrows heavily from Darwin BSD and doesn’t need to explicitly exist (I have no experience with OS9 other to know it existed). Um lets see, Ipod, eh people liked it but at the time CDs were still the norm and we would have gotten along fine without it until someone else digitized music. I mean sure you can have 4,000 songs on your little new Walkman but come on how many albums do you really listen too people? I might have nine or ten I like to listen too. Itunes? Same deal, its not like we didn’t have Limewire and Napster to exchange music and burn cds. But IIRC you had to do all sort of hacking to get itunes format to burn to a cd? F that. Iphone? F*cking ruined cell phones and created a generation of cell phone zombies. DAMN who ever actually created it for all eternity. Iwatch? Stupid and already not meeting expectations. Until these people come up with a robotic blow up doll as far as I’m concerned President Barry can nationalize the company and use its cash reserves to leverage the national debt a few more years. Google at least is into world domination and has its claws into some of the most brilliant people of our time. Apple makes consumer junk by employing near slaves in Asia and marks it up 600%. Oh and now its a money changer with ApplePay. So how can you hate on Goldman, and JPMorgan, and the various other wall street criminals and NOT hate on these people? (for those who hate on Wall Street as they should)

          The cult of AAPL is almost as bad as the cult of TSLA, but guess what? TSLA is too juiced in to fail, AAPL I’m not so sure.

          Looking at the chart I see after the split we went from $132 on or about July 20 to $92.5 on Aug 24th in a nice long red candle and today stands at 114. That’s quite a swing for a company with a trillion liquid.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            28, when I had the nerve to suggest there were legitimate functional arguments to be made in favor of sedans over crossovers, I practically had the flesh boiled off my body. The argument I was whipsawed with: “If it’s popular, therefore it’s better.” I’m counting the seconds until somebody gives that reply to your “Apple products weren’t necessary” post (which I thought was pretty amusingly contrarian, even though I like Apple).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks tony, and if I was part of the group who boiled it off of you, please send me a forwarding address and I’ll see a remittance check is sent for skin replacement.

            A healthy dose of skepticism should always be applied to what “popular” as humans are easily led creatures.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            I’m not really an Apple fanboy anymore (they blew it going from OS9 to OSX…complicating not simplifying their platform), but after having a BB and an Android, I love my iPhone.

            And old but durable iPod(s). And iPad.

            But iTunes nauseates me…unnecessarily complex.

        • 0 avatar
          DanHumphrey

          The Lisa, glass backs on the iPhone 4, Ping, iTunes updates that broke my Nano, stubbornly sticking with 3.5″ screens far too long, nVidia motherboards dying in MacBooks, the whole G4 Cube thing…

          For a company so worshipped, there’s a lot they get awfully wrong. And that’s not even getting to their decisions regarding development that would make Microsoft proud.

        • 0 avatar
          Felis Concolor

          Sharing the warmth, just for you.

          https://youtu.be/UmF_gmZduI8

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Only mistake?

      Newton?

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        PowerBook 5300C, the white iBook video chip issue…

        I’ve run Macs since 1991. I still do, next to Windows machines. I got a 1G iPod, and I have an iPhone and an iPad.

        But … Apple makes mistakes *all the time*; they’re just also really good at most stuff *all the time*, and generally fix the mistakes.

        (Also, hell, from everything I hear, Apple Maps is *now* very, very good; it had teething issues with lack of user-updated data more than any actual technical problems.)

  • avatar
    Paddan

    I always thought the B6 was rather ungainly.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Agree about the ungainly B6 styling. Compared to the costlier Audi-related platform of the B5 and B5A models Baruth anointed on this site as the GOAT, it was a cost-cutting kludge that used a stretched Jetta platform, resulting in a wheelbase too short for the car. Hence the unavoidably awkward proportions. It did have an umbrella-holder socket in the driver’s door jamb, however, so there is that.

      • 0 avatar
        Forty2

        My B5.5 1.8T manual drove like it was milled out of a steel billet. I am not certain but I was led to believe that it shared a body with the contemporary Audi A6, not A4.

        I loved driving that car and had exactly zero problems with it, but the lease ended before it could develop any interesting and expensive problems so back it went. Won’t forget hitting 130mph in the middle of nowhere, ND; unsure if it would have gone faster but that speed was you’re-going-to-jail-son fast so I ended that experiment.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I’ll just say it – this Passer is far and away the best looking midsizer (even though it’s actually a large car) of the Camcordimalusion bunch.

    It has no weird, extraneous, overstyled, ungainly exterior elements, and looks proper, restrained and even upscale in an Audi way.

    And that rear seat leg, shoulder and headroom shames many cars *officially* many sizes larger and multiples more in terms of $$$.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Maybe the best looking until you look inside. As a dashboard, that’s a great Playskool-plastic and contact-paper wood park bench.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The dash top is padded and feels as quality as just about any other padded dash in the segment. Ditto the hard plastics. It seems a bit drab because it isn’t as pointlessly busy as other cars.

        The fake wood in these photos looks better than what they were using last year. But fake wood is fake wood and it seems you need to spend real money to escape that.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Is it because I grew up with the enameled metal interiors of old pickups and Beetles that I’m just fine with any current interior I’ve sat in?

          I just don’t get the hypertactilia (yes, made up) of this prominent obsession with hard/soft/chewable plastics.

          INTERIORS JUST SIT THERE AND GATHER DUST, fer cryin’ out loud. As long as they don’t blind you with glare, who cares?

          Buncha Mr. Whipples out there be squeezin’ erything!

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            It’s funny, isn’t it? Fixation on interior materials is a bit obsessive and fetishist. But aesthetics and perceived quality are valued in products beyond car interiors, and padded dashboards just tend to look better.

            Regardless, squishy dashes aren’t that important to me. What I do care about regarding interior materials are:

            1. Padded contact points like the armrests and upper door panel. Makes my elbows happier.
            2. Surface texture/glare.
            3. Suppression of squeaks and rattles

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            I realize I’m a statistical outlier and that plenty smart, discerning people fuss over their interior plastics.

            I also suspect that not a lot of other people just find a dish soap with a nice smell and put a 2nd bottle in the shower for any and all dirt removal tasks.

            Makes my corner of the shower a lot easier to wipe down than my wife’s mini-apothecary in the other :-D

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Oh, I’ve used dishsoap for hand and face washing at the kitchen sink, no problem. Horrifies my wife, but the per-ounce price is inarguable. Maybe I’ll refill an empty Bath and Body Works container with it for the shower too.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I want the part of the car that I am looking at and touching the entire time I am in the car to look and feel nice. Hard plastics tend to look cheap. They CAN be done well, but rarely are. They also tend to scratch very easily, and then look even worse.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I didn’t get this review…. diesel, diesel, diesel… But how is this car drives, steers, leans, brakes???? Where is it? How does it compare to Camry, Accord and Mazda3 in this perspective?

    “…Volkswagen sedan still relies on a dot matrix display between the two analog gauges” – I like that cluster. clear and analog, with analog temperature and fuel gauges. Perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Handling? Braking distance? Minutiae of steering feel?

      This is a midsize family sedan.

      If you really care about those things, you are looking in the wrong *segment*.

      I like that the review doesn’t mention any of them (on the assumption that it would if any were egregious for the segment’s expectations); otherwise I’d be reading Car and Driver and laughing at skid pad differences of .05G as Important.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I drive a car in this segment, and I very much care about handling, and although if you’re looking ahead when driving it doesn’t come up very often, braking distance is important to everyone.

    • 0 avatar

      The ride and handling in the Passat are damn good. But, it isn’t like Volkswagen took it to Buttonwillow to prove its sporting chops like one automaker did recently.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    All I know is I wanted to drive that VW and I couldn’t!

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    Man the Passat over here in Europe is so much nicer, it’s truly next gen VW. This car is ungainly in comparison, though probably still better than other full sized sedans in the USA aside from the luxury brands.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      “the Passat over here in Europe is so much nicer”

      People have been saying these kind of things about Euro midsized sedans for years, but every time one comes over, it is a terrible car or doesn’t sell well.

      The Mondeo (Contour), B6 Passat, 8th gen Euro Accord (TSX), Opel Insignia (Regal), etc. We will say no to the B8 Passat just like we rightfully did the B6.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        That is because Americans have historically bought cars by the pound. Big and cheap and nasty inside. Small and refined has not sold well. Ford has proved that medium-sized and refined can sell very well – see Fusion/current Mondeo.

        VW is recontenting the Passat, though it is definitely still kinda cheap compared to the European version. Or the CC, which effectively is the previous Euro Passat in a party frock.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Hey, a VW that’s not 5-10 years behind the times on infotainment. It only took them years to catch up.

    The new interior trimmings are a real improvement. The fake wood looks fine in photos and it’s paired with a nice faux-metal trim strip. The steering wheel is excellent. From your photo, the dot matrix screen looks high-res enough to not be an issue for me.

    This car would be high on my list. It has a better engine than the other Euro-feel midsizer, the Fusion, and will probably hit its EPA rating. The power and economy of that 1.8T makes diesel love irrational at this point, so I don’t see how it is an “ace” for any significant portion of midsize shoppers.

    Whatever combination of aggravating and long-term improvements VW needs to accomplish in order to land in the top 5 sellers in this segment probably doesn’t include diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I’d like to see a Fusion with a 1.8T version of the 1.5T or 2.0T. Well, actually I want a 2.3T or 2.7TT in the Fusion, but a Fusion ST isn’t going to be a volume seller.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        With the way the 2.7T can fling the F150 around, a 2.7T Fusion would be a monster. Pairing it with AWD would create a TAKE MY MONEY situation in a frighteningly short period of time.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          My neighbor has had a camo’d Fusion with quad pipes in his driveway a few times in the last month. Something is coming. If he wasn’t my neighbor, and friend (with a glorious man cave that includes pinball, dome hockey, pool, a BOOTH!, a bar, and two 70″ TVs next to each other), I would have sent pictures to Mark already.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            You made the right choice. And that’s not a cave, it’s a Carlsbad Cavern.

            But maybe he will let you ride in it and you can report back here on the awesomeness of the Fusion that you “dreamed up”?

  • avatar
    eManual

    Mark,

    Sorry to be a scold, but “sensical” is not a standard English word according to Dictionary.com. I found the following link:

    http://www.definitions.net/definition/sensical

    Why not use the standard English word sensible or else define it within your article?

    It reminds me of the made up word “extensible” used in software lingo, where the proper English word extendible covers the meaning in most cases.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Well, I think it is a good looking car. The problem with cars these days (read Hyundai) is they come on with a “future” look and then they just look stupid.
    I think we will be saying this about the recent Ford dash looks in the Escape and Focus. And as we did in the Civic. Honda FINALLY gave in this time.

    What bothers me is VW insisting on placing the video screen so low. I think here again it forces the eyes away from views for fat to long.
    I noticed this in my brother’s Toureg. The back up camera required a long, low look.
    Why can’t these be placed near or at the top of the dash?

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      For whatever reason, VW seems to be the last hold out of the “vents on top, screen on the bottom” school of dashboard design, which was fine in 1994 when all the screen had to do was show you the radio station. That information can be low in the dash.

      NAV, camera data, etc should not be 3 feet below the IP gauges in the center of the car. Makes no sense. Audi understands this. VW doesn’t.

  • avatar
    RHD

    If they add in at least a 100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a la Hyundai, and an 800 number to get someone with authority to override the dealer’s automatic claim denial, they might just sell a few of these.
    They look good on the outside, but have a lot of VW skeptics to convince.
    That market share ain’t gonna stop shrinking on its own, ya know.

  • avatar
    th009

    CarPlay is the best thing ever? Seriously?

    I tried CarPlay last month with my phone, and was seriously underwhelmed. It gave me a simplified (or crippled, if you prefer) UI with no access to most of the car functions with the cutesy Apple icons, and the low-quality Apple maps. That’s it. Why on earth would I want this?

    Maybe Android or MirrorLink is better, but at least for me, CarPlay is a waste of time.

  • avatar
    sbvaeth

    I drive a 2012 Passat TDI regularly. My biggest complaint is that the headlights are awful. In Europe you can get upgraded headlights as an option. Mark did you have the opportunity to drive the passat at night?

  • avatar
    claytonraymond2004

    “Unfortunately, the Volkswagen sedan still relies on a dot matrix display between the two analog gauges, even in upper trims.”

    Except there is totally picture of an LCD screen between the gauges in the pictures…

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      What’s in an LCD screen? They’re dots, right? And they’re in a matrix! Nothing wrong here!

      Ahem…

      • 0 avatar
        claytonraymond2004

        Well I think the implication in this article is that it is a single color, old style system. “However, thanks to the dot matrix display through which you control ACC, the experience isn’t the best” — Not sure how much better you could go when it has LCD. Lasers? Magic?

        • 0 avatar

          Multiple colors and a higher-resolution screen could help with bringing some depth to graphical elements. I really should have taken pictures of ACC on that screen. It’s rather confusing as it looks like you can set a distance that’s beyond the car ahead.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Maybe the Passat V6 take rate would have been higher if it didn’t cost 36 grand, at the time when nicely equipped 1.8T model is in mid-20s. An Accord V6 with leather and navigation is still 4 grand cheaper.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I’ll chime in with my usual complaint about the klown-faced “smiley” mirrors going into more cars these days. I like the big, beefy auto-dimmer in my Accord, even if it HAS a black plastic frame! It’s nice and thick, and it doesn’t move once it’s set! This goofy thing looks like it’ll break off its mount the third time it’s moved! (Just like the frameless ones in the ‘Vette and Viper, for two, not to mention the “smiley” Gentexes in the upper-trim TLXs.)

    (It IS better than the standard VW fare anyway: just rectangles with LIGHT-COLORED frames which become a distraction at night with bright lights behind you!)


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