2022 Volkswagen Passat Review - An Early Preview of The Heritage Collection
2022 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Limited Edition
Most automakers have some stuff in their past of which they’re rightfully proud. Certain landmark models are fondly recalled long after they’ve been relegated. Pristine examples of those beauties will often be rolled out and dusted off either during launches of new, tangentially-related models or during serious lulls in the product cycle where everything on lots is dull. Sometimes, these heritage cars will even be loaned to us journalists for a brief time.
Volkswagen has done this in the past - I’ve seen my colleagues joyously cruising in stunning Beetles and Microbuses. What’s remarkable is this 2022 Volkswagen Passat is nominally a new car, but it doesn’t appear on the Build-And-Price tool at vw.com. It seems to be a curious case where a brand new car has been prematurely shuffled off to the heritage fleet.
After all, our own Matt Posky reported in January that the final Passat had rolled off the Chattanooga line. How in the world is this test car still making the rounds? The Arteon has the admittedly-shrinking market for midsized sedans rather nicely covered in VW showrooms.
After a week behind the wheel, however, I’m beginning to consider what it is we have lost by ceding the everyday family vehicle slot to high-riding, thirsty tall wagons. While logging several hundred interstate miles, I couldn’t help but imagine myself driving another lost and beloved sedan from a different automaker - a Buick LeSabre.
Stay with me here - I’ve been branded a heretic here in the past, I’m sure. But my analogy comes from a place of love for the Buick and other midsized front-drive sedans of the Nineties. After all, the LeSabre was typically powered by an under-stressed, venerable powerplant and gave occupants plenty of comfort in a reasonably sized package. The Buick had the classic 3800 V6 - this Passat is powered by the two-liter turbo four that has been reliably powering VeeDubs for nearly two decades at this point. The Passat also has more legroom than one would expect both front and rear, making long drives remarkably comfortable for four or even five. No padded velour seats from the Chattanooga-built sedan, however, but the seating comfort is superb especially with the package-included Mauro Brown leather seats replacing the V-tex leatherette on lower trims.
174 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque is plenty to move this midsizer with authority, though it will never be mistaken for a sports sedan. Shifts through the traditional six-speed automatic transmission are smooth and drama-free. The ride is well controlled without being too firm. I’d worry that the optional 19” wheels fitted to the uplevel R-Line trim might be a bit too unyielding for the nature of the car, but this Limited Edition trim has specific 18-inchers that give enough sidewall for comfort.
The Passat is one of those cars where you don’t have to worry about the journey ahead and whether the car is suitable. With plenty of passenger and cargo space (15.9 cubic feet in the trunk), this can handle a road trip quite nicely. The car is EPA rated for 28mpg combined - but in my week I found myself getting much closer to the 36mpg highway rating in my mixed driving. For the size and comfort found here, that’s more than respectable - with an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, a highway journey could bust bladders with over six hundred miles of range.
The styling is exactly what we’ve seen from VW for over a decade. While facelifted a couple of years ago, it hasn’t been significantly updated since the European Passat was divorced from the Tennessee-built car in 2010. And that’s OK. It’s handsome without being showy. I’ll grant that I find the Arteon a bit more attractive, but I’d be quite happy living with the Passat - especially in this gorgeous dark green hue.
The infotainment system is once again the same touchscreen interface we’ve seen from VW for several years. It generally works well, and unlike the newer setup on the GTI has a knob to control the volume. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. This Limited Edition is fitted with a 400-watt Fender-branded audio system - as far as I can tell there is no way to plug a Stratocaster into the car for mobile shredding, however. Perhaps the always-creative VW aftermarket can fab something up.
As cars like the 2022 Volkswagen Passat disappear before our eyes, it’s not hard to realize what we are losing. There’s something comforting about slipping behind the wheel of a car with neither sporting nor sports-utility pretension - a car that asks absolutely nothing of the driver and occupants but to feed it sparingly with fuel and head off on a journey. If you can find one at your local dealer, this is a great buy.
[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]
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