By on September 6, 2018

2017 Volkswagen Passat - Image: Volkswagen

If there was ever an engine type best associated with my youth, it was the V6. Most of my parents’ cars had ’em, the car I drove to high school (and bought not long after) had one, my friends’ cars had ’em. It was a V6-filled world — and one that now looks pretty distant in the rear-view.

Volkswagen has let slip details of its 2019 Passat, and the changes coming to the final model year of this generation means another V6 engine option drops from the automotive landscape. That leaves just two models in the non-premium midsize sedan space that still offer six cylinders beneath their hoods, and one of them is on its final pass around the sun.

As reported by The Car Connection, Volkswagen plans to trim its, er, trims for 2019, ditching the base S, high-end SEL Premium, and sportier GT, which had only arrived for the 2018 model year.

Bearing a standard 3.6-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the GT jazzed up the Passat’s exterior with 19-inch alloys and a smattering of go-fast appearance flourishes. The same engine was optional in the SEL.

In place of these vehicles, VW plans to offer just an SE R-Line (consolidating three trim levels: R-Line, SE, and SE with Technology Package), as well as a Wolfsburg Edition as the entry-level trim. The Wolfsburg comes with 17-inch wheels, push-button ignition, faux leather seats, and a basic level of safety features ( automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring). Optional are 18-inch wheels and a moonroof. Moving up to the SE R-Line nets you LED lights front and rear, 18-inch wheels, upgraded audio and infotainment, and a larger suite of driver-assist features.

VW Passat GT

The changes are designed to clear the way for a new Passat promised at this January’s Detroit auto show, though VW admits the loss of the V6 isn’t likely to annoy many brand loyalists.

“It has always been a relatively small take rate,” said Mark Gillies, senior manager of product and technology communications at Volkswagen of America, in an email to TTAC.

VW introduced a new base (and now standard) engine for the 2018 model year, dropping the longstanding 1.8-liter turbo four for a 2.0-liter unit generating 174 horses and 184 lb-ft. Given that the 2019 Arteon flagship sedan also carries a standard four-banger, it’s looking like VW’s passenger car line has seen the last of the V6 engine. Gillies wouldn’t speculate on what the future holds, engine-wise.

“As for the [Passat] to be introduced in January, we will be talking about that in due course,” he wrote.

With the Passat and all-new Nissan Altima dropping their optional six-cylinders for 2019, that leaves just the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion Sport as V6 holdouts in the midsize field, and the latter sedan is now entering its final model year. The Honda Accord dropped its 3.5-liter V6 when the current-generation sedan bowed for 2018, while the Chevrolet Malibu left its V6 behind in 2016. Hyundai, Kia, and Mazda’s V6 engines are ancient history.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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49 Comments on “With Changes Coming to the 2019 Volkswagen Passat, the Midsize Field Loses Another V6...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    will anyone notice?

  • avatar
    jack4x

    One more step toward the inevitable ‘2.0T in everything’ future….

    I hope Toyota holds out for a long time though, their V6 is really a gem.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Government mandated MPG levels is the root cause of this BS.
    Tiny 4 bangers turbo ed up the ying yang just waiting to blow up.
    End it please.

    Reduce fuel consumption VIA A GAS TAX INCREASE LIKE MOST SANE COUNTRIES DO.

    • 0 avatar
      incautious

      gee my 28 year old turbo motor is doing just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      From what I can tell, it’s actually a displacement tax, levied by lots of countries – including China – on engines larger than 2L, that’s the root cause of this BS.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        ^ This!!!

        The Accord, for instance, is sold in China almost unchanged, I think.

        As I stated yesterday in a comment under the AOB Fusion article, it’s been an argument of mine that if you’re going to kill V6s, at least make the baseline engine to which aforementioned gerbil-wheel is attached at least 2.3 liters or so, but again, there’s the displacement tax issue, and the certification cost of the additional powerplant for the American (and other) markets; the automakers certainly aren’t going to put forth the $$$ necessary for that in a shrinking segment, and more’s the pity! CAFE 2025 just seals the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Sane” countries don’t have the same affinity for F-150s and SUVs as we do in North America.

      The F-150 was still the best-selling vehicle when gas was over $4, so what do you propose for the gas tax? By the way, PA’s gas tax is 58 cents, on top of the Federal tax of 18.4 cents, for a total of 76.4 cents. So already, 25% of my fuel cost is taxes.

      Let’s say we raise the Federal tax up to 100 cents – 5 x what it is today. That makes my gas in PA cost about $4/gallon – and the sales landscape will still look the same.

      Americans only respond to spikes in gas prices, not gradual changes. And once the effects of the spike have worn off, it’s back to the usual buying patterns.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      “Reduce fuel consumption VIA A GAS TAX INCREASE LIKE MOST SANE COUNTRIES DO.”

      I’m confused on how that will save V6s? You realize the engines found in cars in those “sane countries” are primarily tiny (typically tinier than what you get in the US) 4 bangers turboed up the ying yang right?

      More expensive gas = people want more efficient vehicles so they spend less on gas = more turboed up 4 bangers. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        The rush to 4 bangers would be slower.
        Larger, non blown engines would be more available.
        Therefore, the consumer decides which engine he wants.

        Ah….never mind.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          How fast or slow the rush to 4 bangers would be is entirely dependent on how high you make the gas tax, and thus how motivated consumers are to move towards more fuel efficient vehicles. Double the current price of gas and yeah, welcome all those turbo 4 bangers that automakers will be releasing left and right while dropping their V6s and V8s.

          When gas prices spiked earlier this decade people were quick to jump into more fuel efficient cars- don’t think the automakers didn’t notice and plan out fuel efficient motors. It is just that consumers have short memories so when the fuel prices came down again they were once again receptive to less fuel efficient vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          It’s over man. The Norms have won.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Depends how you drive. My WRX is going on 200,000 miles and I know plenty of other owners that got there before me.

      Turbo anxiety is my father’s worry. It’s that Volvo twin-charger that’s got me scared…

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Agreed, Advance_92. I know several turbo owners and can’t think of a single one that’s had an issue with them. A good friend is at about 160,000 miles with an ’02-ish Volvo turbo I5 turbo.

        My angst centers more on CVTs and direct injection.

        Nissan’s track record with CVTs hasn’t been great, and I think the jury’s still out on other manufacturers. They might well be fine, but in my book we’re still early on in their widespread market adoption. Not necessarily durability related, but I also hate the idea of simulated gears. They’re a big FU to logical people while being a plum for stupid journalists and stupid consumers. Granted, logical people seem vastly outnumbered in 2018.

        Direct injection isn’t going to leave you stranded, but philosophically it bugs me in that it’s the unhappy medium between port injection and dual injection yet is the industry standard. It’s another FU to logical consumers. Again, scribes don’t care because there’s always the next fresh press car to drive. They don’t have to pay for a decarboning, and they don’t give a crap that the particulate emissions are worse than with port- and dual-injected engines.

        /rant

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Or, how about we don’t raise taxes to “reduce fuel consumption” at all?

      (Note that it’s 2018.

      “Turbos all blow up!!!!!” called from its home *over two decades ago* and invites you to move on from that one, okay?)

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      “Reduce fuel consumption VIA A GAS TAX INCREASE LIKE MOST SANE COUNTRIES DO.”

      What you REALLY mean is fleece the living sh!t out of the working guy by stealing more of our money, redirecting it into the pockets of greasy politicians and/or funneling it into cash burning do nothing beauracracies.

      How about don’t worry about fuel consumption at all? We have PLENTY of reserves. Its gonna cost what its gonna cost, theres ZERO justification for artificially inflating that expense, unless its to force people to downgrade to high mpg wimp mobiles we don’t want. Here’s a reality check: No one ‘wants’ a fuel efficient dorkmobile. That’s nothing but an austerity measure to deal with a financial crisis. They only sell when people are forced into them by outside influence. You think wheelchairs, adult diapers, and orthopedic shoes sell because people ‘want’ them? Buy a clue, will ya?

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I forgot this car still exist, which is a huge shame because I use to absolutely love the old B4 Passat VR6 and dreamt of owning one someday.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    Meh while I don’t think it really matters, what was the point of creating the Passat GT for one model year? I have seen some people on the GTI forum buy the GT for spouses and such, so that worked to grab some sales. I would think having that for one more model year would be fine.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I didn’t see one of these in about 3 days

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The Passat’s not selling, the Atlas is, and they’re both made in the same plant. Streamlining the Passat line makes sense.

    Losing the six sucks, but I have a feeling the ’18s will be on lots for quite some time.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “Losing the six sucks, but I have a feeling the ’18s will be on lots for quite some time.”

      They’ve got to get them on the lot in the first place. When I was looking for a replacement for my dieselgate Jetta I was very interested in the Passat, but I wanted the V6. In the Columbus, Ohio area we have three decent-sized VW dealers, and between the three of them I saw exactly 1 V6 Passat come into inventory during the months that I was looking at cars. And of course it was the absolute top of the line SEL Premium model rather than one of the more affordable trims that had the V6 option. I test drove it and liked it, but it was a little bit soft for my tastes. I think the GT was probably the car that I was looking for, it just showed up two years too late.

      At least with the GT there are more V6 models in inventory. After the release I looked into it and there were at least 1-2 at each dealer in town.

  • avatar
    Radio-Friendly Transmission Shifter

    I do wonder how all of the turbo 4s are going to hold up in the long run. It seems like forcing a small engine to put out a high amount of power would cause mechanical strain and possibly cause failure over time. I would rather have a more powerful NA engine than a smaller turbo engine, at least for my daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      incautious

      as posted my 28 year old turbo motor is doing just fine thank you

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      I put 190,000 miles on a 199 Passat. I even chipped the car at 20,000 to add 45hp. The only thing the engine needed in all that time was a cam chain tensioner, icm, and I redid the PCV system. Modern turbo 4s seem to be lasting as well as any other engines.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      How does a normally-aspirated V6 put less mechanical strain on its bearings, transmission, axles, etc. than an equally powerful turbo-four? It doesn’t.

      Granted, a turbocharger has a 100,000 rpm heartbeat to worry about. But a turbo-four engine has fewer moving parts than a V6, can operate at lower RPM, and has a much more serviceable engine bay.

      Pick your poison, but it’s probably gonna be a coin-toss.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, “taking an engine designed for no turbo and just randomly adding one” might be a problem, potentially, if the system was Just Strong Enough as it was.

        But all the modern I-4 2.0L turbos were, I believe, *designed to be turbocharged* (or redesigned if the system was once originally an NA block).

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Corret me if I’m wrong but you can still get the H6 in the Subaru Legacy, no?

    This kinda thing can’t help sedan death watch. Everyone gonna have the same engine, same trans, etc. If everything is the same, head to your local Toyota or Honda dealer and at least get “the best” of all the sameness.

    You get a tiny 4 cyl turbo! You get a tiny 4 cyl turbo! Everyone gets a tiny 4 cyl turbo!

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Yes, emissions and MPG regs are the culprit.

    I drive several vehicles regularly with a small, turbo-three and turbo-fours…and I don’t miss a V6. To each his own, but for me, a modern vehicle with forced induction is just dandy.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ EquipmentJunkie – I’m inclined to agree. All things being equal,* I prefer the feel of a naturally aspirated V6, but it isn’t a huge preference. Conversely, if I’m out of the boost in an I4 turbo (which I usually am), I’ll benefit from the incremental fuel savings vs a V6. And the power still is fine; I grew up on engines well south of 200 hp.

      Two big and rather obvious caveats:
      1) The overall size and design of the car has a huge effect on economy. I’m a driver who, I suspect, could eek more MPGs out of a Taurus with the 2.0T vs the 3.5 V6. I suspect a big % of drivers would do better with the V6.
      2) I’m going to like a good V6 more than a crappy I4T and vice-versa. Apples to apples–I’m thinking of Lexus’ V6 and 2.0T here–the pluses and minuses of each engine almost balance each other out.

      I’m guess I’m happy with either. In a perfect world, people would get to choose.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The worst V6 I ever drove was in my 02 Passat. The e-throttle was downright dangerous in its slow response, and the car ate gas like a minivan.

    Hopefully the newer ones are better, but I won’t miss that engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      Completely different engine. This was a 3.6 ltr VR6 and not the Audi sourced V6 in your B5.5.

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      The 3.6L in the current Passat is a derivative of the original VR6 introduced in the early ’90s. It bears no resemblance to the 2.8 V6 (Audi-derived) used in the B5 Passats. I always thought that engine was under-powered for its size and application, although the original 1.8T used in the early B5 Passats was only rated at 150 hp, with a bump to 170 later on.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      I had the same car. That was the traditional European 6-cylinder: neither powerful nor fuel-efficient, but torquey as hell for its small displacement. (See also: Volvo and BMW I6 engines.) On a continent where a family car might have a naturally aspirated 1.6 liter engine, torque was the ultimate luxury. As for reliability, well, literally every engine seal made of rubber leaked on that thing, causing awful smells, loss of power, and the constant threat of engine compartment fire; it cost thousands to replace them all over a 1 year period at, IIRC, under 60k miles. So much for a big lazy V6 being reliable. But I still miss that magnificent turd.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Meh, no love for the V6 here, has pretty much been a non existent thing for all of my life. Of the 50 some on vehicles I’ve owned only 3 had 6 cyls only two of which were bent, 90 Ranger, 2000 Taurus and the one with the proper unbent configuration a 62 Econoline.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Agreed. Not a big fan of that engine design at all…although in a minivan, midsize sedan or CUV where you need adequate power with smooth delivery it does make sense–Id just never own ANY of those. On a vanilla family car like this, a n/a 4 is MORE than enough to schepp granny off to church.

      Turbo 4s are a tuners delight, I-6s are great for sportscars or low end grunt, V8s are for all out performance. Give me any of those, depending on the application.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Why does the new 2.0 turbo have less power than the old 1.8? Why replace it? The 1.8 developed peak tourqueat 1,700 RPM so it didn’t have any lag either.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      If they used the 2.0T from the Arteon (the only engine option coming to the US) it has similar power levels to the VR6 that’s going away, along with most other manufacturer’s 2.0Ts used in mid-sized sedans. The current 4-cylinder Passat options just aren’t that good.

  • avatar
    erlebo

    There are three non-premium midsize sedans that still offer six cylinders, not two: the Camry, Altima and Legacy.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      The Legacy H6 has some weird design limitation preventing a properly low first gear, IIRC, meaning low-end response is doggy despite the two extra cylinders, negating the whole reason for paying extra (up front and every day of the car’s life) for a six.

      With its newly aggressive styling, sport-trim suspension and mighty V6, we can unironically say a Toyota Camry is perhaps the sportiest mainstream family sedan. Who ever would have thought it!?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I’m old enough to remember when V8’s ruled, and most 6 cylinders meant either ‘cheapskate’ or European. 4 cylinders were few and far between and generally air cooled.

    With the demise of the GM 3800, my affection for 6 cylinder engines went into remission.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Thank goodness it’s still boring and nondescript looking.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Son of a!

    I was seriously considering a Passat GT for my next car when my lease runs out next summer.

    It does narrow down my decision between the GT and saving the cash and getting an R-Line – which I quite liked last year as a rental.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The current Passat is actually a really nice car, and I think shoppers are making a mistake if they don’t at least look at one. I recently had a rental Passat TSI R-Line for a drive across Pennsylvania. This car has the 2.0T engine. The car is not a sports sedan, but it matches up well with highway and suburban driving. It’s not very fast, but it returned 37+ MPG across a hilly state at an average speed around 65mph. I was surprised by such good mileage in such a large car without some kind of hybrid system.

    Also, the car is very roomy and pretty comfortable. (Though VW pleather is no better than BMW or Mercedes pleather, which I also despise.) The trunk is huge, with a good sized opening. Back seat legroom is child seat friendly.

    The controls are German in their feel, but sort of American in their setup. It’s a pretty simple car, without too much gimmickry.

    I get the feeling that if you want something like the Ford Taurus used to be, the Passat has been doing a better job of it than the actual Ford Taurus has been.

    I think it’s worth checking out. Especially if sales incentives are in play.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “I get the feeling that if you want something like the Ford Taurus used to be, the Passat has been doing a better job of it than the actual Ford Taurus has been”

      This is interesting, doubly so because the reverse is also true in my opinion: if you want something Germanic and solid like the B5 Passat used to be, the Ford Fusion has been doing a better job of it than the current VW Passat.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Out of all of the different midsizers ive rented over the last 3 years or so, a ‘16 Passat SE 1.8TSI was my favorite. Best interior IMO, handsome exterior, excellent fuel economy, satisfactory power, and good highway manners. Handled a 8 hour highway haul with ease and I rolled into K.C. with a quarter tank of gas left over.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I’m a six lover (E36 M3), but VW’s 2.0T variants are exceptional engines. In my Golf R the turbo 4 is smooth, quiet and powerful, with bags of torque and little turbo lag. Another version of the same engine works well in my wife’s Audi Q5. The 2.0T is now the base engine in the most recent revision of Porsche’s Macan.

    These turbo fours are compact, lightweight and more efficient in every way than the engines they supersede.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I like my ’17 Jetta SE but truly wish I had sprung for a Passat. Local stores are just about giving them away and hopefully they don’t go extinct before the lease is up on my Jetta…

    I don’t give two hoots about horsepower, but torque is my friend. Modern turbo 4’s seem to have plenty of low-end torque, unlike the peaky turbo engines of the 80s.


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