The popular selling Accord and Camry now have another viable competitor. Volkswagen’s Passat sedan has officially entered the segment with its European flair that has all the attributes car buyers seek in a family driver. And would you believe it’s made in the USA (Chattanooga, TN). So there’s no excuse that it’s not “Made in America.”
Passat comes in S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium, TDI Clean Diesel, TDI Clean Diesel SE and TDI Clean Diesel SEL Premium, the differences are engine choices, trim and amenity extras.
I tested the SEL Premium that came with a peppy 2.5L, 170-hp (177 lb/ft of torque) inline 5-cylinder engine and standard 6-speed automatic transmission. The combination provided lively, yet linear acceleration with EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 31-highway mpg. If you’d like better mileage and don’t mind paying a premium for it, the Passat TDI diesel gets 43-highway mpg with a manual transmission. That’s good for 800 miles, or a trip from New York to Chicago says VW. And it has been 0-60 tested at 9 seconds.
If you’re a performance person, opt for the 3.6L V6 and it puts out 280-hp and 258 lb/ft of torque with a six-speed dual clutch automated manual trans.
Completely redesigned for 2012, the front-drive Passat was made four inches longer than the 2011 model and now provides an additional three inches of rear legroom. It has also become more affordable with pricing about $7K less to make it competitive with the aforementioned choices from Honda and Toyota.
But the price decrease didn’t mean skimping on quality or amenities. My SEL Premium was nicely loaded without extra cost options. Leather seats were Euro supportive, had longwearing outer edges where there’s more wear and tear and sueded inserts. The dash, doors and console were adorned with faux burled walnut trim. It comes with keyless/remote start key fob, push button ignition, a 5.5×3-inch LCD screen for audio, satellite radio and GPS functions and 6-way power drivers seat. However a rearview camera was not included.
The front seats were supportive and the backs could seat three tweens or teens, but only two adults due to the high center hump. Rear seat access was easy thanks to wide opening doors and ample headroom and generous legroom, probably the best of the aforementioned competitors.
Trunk space was sizable (15.9 cubic feet) for a midsize sedan. I estimated two roll-a-long bags or two golf bags, or, three if folding the split rear seatbacks after releasing two handles in the deep trunk.
Handling exhibited true German sporting characteristics. Stout but planted in sharp turns and virtually little front-end dive under hard braking. Steering is a bit heavy at low speeds, which is also common on pricey BMW 3-Series sedans. Ride quality is impressive and feels more like an Audi A3 or A4. It handles tar strips and unimproved rail crossings with poise.
Passat’s include a long list of traction and safety features such as a compliment of airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Anti-Slip, Electronic Differential Lock even heated windshield washer nozzles, a good thing to have during freezing rain or ice storms.
While the Passat has a few shortcomings, as all cars do, overall it’s a good choice that allows European engineering and drive, but stateside build.
My test car priced out at $30,665 with delivery after a base of $28,895.
Passat received a National Highway Safety Administration rating of 5-stars for overall safety, five for driver/passenger frontal crash, four for front seat side crash, five for rear seat and four for rollover.
To test drive a Passat stop by Faulkner VW on Lehigh Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.