After a redesign one year ago, and added standard equipment for 2017, Volkswagen is hoping its Passat will appeal to more buyers in the highly competitive mid-size sedan segment.
Passat is one of the more conservatively styled sedans in its segment, but it offers a spacious cabin, comfortable seating, a nice list of standard amenities and a pleasant ride.
Designed for the U.S. market and built in Tennessee, Passat features wide-opening doors, making it easy for passengers to enter and exit. Passat easily accommodates a family of five.
There is plenty of head and leg room for occupants up front and in the rear seats. Due to a high center floor hump, most adult passengers stuck in the rear middle seat will have to straddle their legs and share floor space with the outboard passengers.
Passat is competitively priced with a starting price of $22,440 for 2017. That includes Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking (new for 2017), dual-zone automatic climate control, 5-inch color touchscreen display, rearview camera, automatic headlights and more.
The SEL trim has been dropped for 2017 and there are now five four-cylinder trim levels: S, R-Line, SE, SE w/Technology and SEL Premium. Additionally, there are two V6-powered trim levels: SE w/Technology and SEL Premium.
A 170-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission come standard in four-cylinder models. Fuel economy for this combination is 23/34 mpg city/highway.
For those wanting more power, V6 models feature a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a dual-clutch automated 6-speed transmission. Fuel economy for this combination is 20/28 mpg city/highway. All Passat models send their power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not available.
The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is substantially more fuel efficient than the V-6 and it offers decent power. It should satisfy most Passat customers. Those who crave more power in the Passat line will need to step up to one of the two V6 trims but the new V6 SE w/Technology trim lowers the V6’s price of entry to $30,000.
As you might expect, the V6 delivers noticeably more power and a higher level of refinement over four-cylinder Passat models, but for those who are more interested in fuel economy or have tighter budgets, four-cylinder models deliver adequate power and a pleasing ride. All models come standard with 4-wheel disc brakes and a suspension that has been tuned more for comfort.
Inside, cloth seats are featured in the base S trim. Leatherette upholstery is featured in all other trims except for the top SEL Premium trims, which feature real leather upholstery. The new R-line trim offers sportier styling and additional content, but does not offer sportier suspension tuning.
I recently tested a top-of-the-line 2017 Passat V6 SEL Premium model ($33,995). SEL Premium models (both 4-cylinder and V6 models) feature a long list of amenities including power folding and heated side mirrors with memory, leather upholstery, a Fender Premium audio system and more.
Yes, the Passat is a comfortable midsize sedan with pleasing qualities, but models like the Honda Accord and Mazda6 offer better value, with the Mazda6 offering sportier handling.