The Volkswagen Passat is what happens when Germans beige-ify a mid-size sedan to satisfy the American market. What do you need to know before you buy a Volkswagen Passat? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
The American Passat is not the same as the European Passat. No, we get a Chattanooga, Tennessee-built sedan that isn’t nearly as exciting as what’s overseas. Sheet metal, driving experience, and interior styling are forgettable, but the Passat still offers decent content for a reasonable asking price.
The problem is, the Passat is getting old. It’s been out for about four years now, so the competition has caught up. The VW now sits squarely at the middle to bottom of the pack in this segment.
But next year’s model may change all that with new interior and exterior styling, new infotainment options, and new safety tech. Just don’t expect to get a diesel option, as the EPA has prohibited VW from selling any.
Volkswagen brought us the Tennessee-built B7 Passat for the 2012 model year, offering more space, more trim levels, and a much lower asking price.
Changes since this generation of Passat launched have been few and far between. They’ve made a rear view camera standard on most models, they’ve nixed the 2.5-liter inline five and replaced it with a 1.8-liter turbo four, and they’ve shuffled standard content between trim levels.
For 2015, Volkswagen proudly launched a new 2.0-liter TDI “Clean Diesel,” which promised excellent fuel economy, particularly with the manual transmission. Unfortunately, Dieselgate happened and now we’re left without a diesel manual option.
VW gives you the choice of eight trim levels. Yes, eight—that means you have lots of options. You can get the Passat 1.8T in S, Wolfsburg Edition, Limited Edition, SE, SE w/Sunroof and Nav, and SEL Premium trims. Or you can get the Passat 1.8T Sport or even the Passat V6.
If we were in the market for a mid-size Volkswagen, we’d probably begin by crying about how there’s no longer a diesel manual available. Once that pathetic event was over, we’d either wait for the new 2016 model, which features sleeker styling, upgraded infotainment options, and a revised interior, or we’d find a steal of a deal on a ‘15.
In the latter case, we’d try to find ourselves a base model 1.8T S trim with a 5-speed manual. It doesn’t come particularly well-equipped, but it’s cheap and it’s the only trim that comes with a stick. You get steel wheels, cloth manually-adjustable seats, and a very basic radio.
Still, cruise control, power windows, and power locks are there, so you are at least getting the basics. But the modest standard features pay off in the end, because you end up with a sedan that you can shift yourself that manages 35 MPG on the highway for a modest $22,160 including destination charge.
MSRP: $21,340 - $35,995 Top Speed: ~130 MPH (V6 estimated)
Acceleration: ~6.0s to 60 [V6]
MPG: 24 city/ 36 hwy / 28 combined [1.8L Turbo w/auto]
Engines: 1.8L Turbo I4, 3.6L V6
Max Horsepower/Torque: 280 hp/258 lb-ft [3.6L]
Curb Weight: ~3,172-3,481 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD
Photo credit: Volkswagen