2018 Volkswagen Passat

Written by | Automobile

The Volkswagen Passat never quite stands out in a highly competitive segment that includes both the best-selling mid-size sedan in the United States and a perennial 10Best award winner; but it still does its job extremely well. Eschewing flashy design in favor of considered creases and a squared-off stance, the Passat looks like the grown-up of its group. A controlled ride, reliable handling, impressive efficiency, and huge interior make it a smart choice, while the sub-6.0-second zero-to-60-mph times that come with an available V-6 engine can entice speed demons (although the Ford Fusion Sport is still quicker). The Passat is a solid choice—especially if rear-seat space is of crucial importance—but despite its many charms, it isn’t our favorite in this class of giants.

What’s New for 2018?

The Passat saw several changes for 2018. A new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four replaces the outgoing turbocharged 1.8-liter four in entry-level models, and a new limited-run GT trim borrows design cues from Volkswagen’s vaunted Golf GTI to lend a sporty aura to the Passat. Volkswagen has also upgraded its warranty this year, with longer coverage periods in virtually every category. Those changes are by no means small, but none meaningfully alter the Passat’s infotainment systems or design language—interior or exterior. And the performance advantages of the new four-cylinder engine are slight; in fact, in our testing, the outgoing engine was the quicker and more efficient of the two.

What Was New for 2017?

Fresh off a 2016 update, which brought all-new sheetmetal forward of the windshield, a new four-bar grille, and redesigned front and rear bumpers, the Passat was largely unchanged for 2017. Most of the updates were inside the vehicle, where driver-assistance and connectivity features were newly included in lower trim levels. Automated emergency braking is a standard feature, while blind-spot monitoring is standard in R-Line models and beyond. There’s also a new keyless-access feature, which allows owners of SE and SEL models to open the trunk by swiping their foot beneath the rear bumper if the key is within three feet of the vehicle.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

We prefer the power of the Passat’s smooth, quick V-6 engine, and the new limited-edition GT trim will offer that engine for $29,940—a much more reasonable proposition than the $35,500 asking price for the V6’s other SEL Premium trim. The GT offers all the impressive performance of the Passat’s V-6 engine and is well paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. That model is outfitted with the following standard features:

• Heated front seats with an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
• LED headlights and daytime running lights
• 19-inch wheels

If the GT is still out of your price range, the Passat’s SE trim, which comes with the entry-level turbocharged 2.0-liter and a few upmarket features such as blind-spot monitoring and keyless entry, is a good choice. That model starts at $27,145.

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