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New Volkswagen Passat holds its own against larger car class

The Passat is Volkswagen’s biggest sedan, and it offers a nearly full-size cabin at a much more affordable price than most of the stable of full-size sedans. My tester Passat SEL is the top-line trim level, and even moderately equipped, it more than holds its own against the larger full-size sedan class.

For 2017, there’s plenty to highlight. VW has stepped back from that much-maligned dongle adaptation for iPods and other devices in favor of a much more streamlined standard USB interface. Additionally, you can upgrade your Passat to an Audi-like R-Line version that offers 19-inch rims, leather-wrapped steering wheel and other Audi-inspired refinement.

On the outside, Passat is 100 percent German-inspired, understated beauty: nothing too flashy, everything in constant proportion, flowing lines with distinction built into the front-end grille and headlamp treatments.

Inside the quiet cabin, you will find the expected VW fit and finish. This is a cabin designed for driving and less for entertaining. Dash is intuitively laid out with easy visual references and controls within arm’s reach (and on the wheel). My tester featured the high-line leather upholstery which further adds a level of distinction, refinement and beauty to the interior — all the while providing comfort and power adjustments.

The Car-Net App-Connect, which allows drivers to pair a compatible smartphone and access maps, music and more directly from the car’s touchscreen display, is new. You will be able to make and receive hands-free phone calls, thanks to built-in Bluetooth technology.

Front and rear passengers enjoy massive head-

and legroom, comparable to the next class up in size. The 15.9-cubic-foot trunk is the only “smallish” aspect. A useful pass-through allows for versatility in storing and moving items.

The base engine of the Passat is a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine. Turbo technology pulls cool air into the engine, which helps give it its exceptional performance.

If you’re interested in more power than the four-cylinder, you can opt for the V-6 engine, which produces 280 horsepower (compared to 170 horsepower in the 1.8-liter turbo) along with 258 pound-feet of torque (compared to 184). My tester V-6 provided ample power and easily stepped up into any command for response in the city and on highway.

My tester had paddle shifters located on the steering wheel for hands-on gear changes. It also featured the available DSG automatic transmission, which offers seamless shifts and quick acceleration, all while optimizing fuel consumption so you can go farther before having to fill up. This was a joy to engage throughout the test period.

The Passat comes with seven unique, stability-enhancing safety features in addition to a collection of active safety features and a high-strength safety cage. Because of these and other safety features, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat was awarded a five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The 2017 Passat has to be one of the most appealing family sedans on the market, when you consider the size and technology/safety features available for less than $30,000. This German-built beauty should make everyone’s short list.