What’s Hot: The brand’s large sedan has evolved for the 2016 model year, offering updated sheet metal, although it’s unnoticeable to the untrained eye. In addition, a few interior upgrades bring it in line with many of its competitors. Since going through a major redesign a few years ago, the Passat is somewhat of a segment buster.
While the vehicle is classified as a midsize vehicle, its interior and exterior dimensions lands as a tweener candidate for the large car segment. The 2016 Passat is roomy and quite comfortable for long hauls. For the most part, the layout of the instrument panel and the infotainment system are relatively easy to operate. The vehicle also includes a standard rearview camera.
The Passat joins the likes of Camry, Altima, Accord and Legacy, holding onto its 6-cylinder engine, while offering a 4-cylinder, too. While the Passat we reviewed was outfitted with the brand’s 4-cylinder turbo, unlike its competitors, we found the engine to be quite spirited.
In fact, this is the only vehicle with a 4-cylinder in this segment that did not seem underpowered. Also, because VW has close ties with Audi and Porsche, we could feel the precision driving characteristics that make both of its German luxury siblings standouts. The Passat actually offers the most engaging driving experience of any of its competitors.
As an added surprise, the midsize vehicle standard 4-cylinder engine is capable of achieving over 536 miles on a tank of gas, according to fueleconomy.gov. Needless to say, the driving range is on par with a number of premium priced hybrids in the segment.
The vehicle offers a variety of trims, depending upon one’s budget or taste.
What’s Not: Because of its diesel entanglement, the fuel-efficient model that one was known for achieving upwards of 750 miles on a tank of gas is no longer available. And, although the vehicle we reviewed was the higher-end premium model, we found that the sliding front center armrest needed more padding.
It took us literally 10-minute to engage the complicated cruise control system. We finally figured it out, after stumbling across an unmarked switch, which finally activated the radar system. It shouldn’t take opening the owner’s manual in order to figure what should be an easy-to-use function.
The American built and designed Passat has lost some of the agility and features that once made the vehicle an engineering standout the segment. One of things missing is the electronic brake hold feature, which kept us from holding the brakes while at a stop light.
While the vehicle is larger and more fuel-efficient than many in the segment, it is also priced a few more thousand more than a comparable 4-cylinder Camry and Accord, which are the segment leaders. With that competition, VW needs to rethink their premium pricing strategy.
Drive or Drive By?: The Passat is playing in a hyper-competitive segment. Although sales are down, just as the majority of the vehicles of that size, the Passat remains Volkswagen’s number two best-selling vehicle.
Although it’s received some much-needed interior updates to keep the vehicle competitive, the low volume vehicle seems to be more in line with such niche players as the Mazda6, the 200 and the Legacy in terms of sales. Despite its larger interior space, we are not quite sure why VW premium-priced this vehicle.
Competition: Chevy Malibu; Chrysler 200; Ford Fusion; Hyundai Sonata; Kia Optima; Mazda6; Nissan Altima; Subaru Legacy; and Toyota Camry
Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $35,325 (base model $23,260)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; automatic headlights; a rearview camera; a tire pressure monitoring system; and power adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals
Standard Equipment (S Model): 16-inch wheels; a 6-speed transmission; cloth seats; manual operated front seats; a manually adjustable tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a dual zone automatic climate control system; a 5-inch infotainment screen; power operated front seats with a memory control for the driver; heated front and rear seats; a leather wrapped steering wheel; and leather seats
1.8T SEL Premium: 18-inch wheels; 6-speed clutchless automatic transmission; Daytime running lights; chrome exhaust tips; foldable power side mirrors; fog lights; power sunroof; a radar activated cruise control system; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; automatic rain-sensing wipers; a 6-inch touchscreen infotainment system; a navigation system; an automatic emergency braking system; heated exterior mirrors; a lane departure warning system; a parking distance control assist system; a remote engine start system; a push button keyless ignition system; an adjustable front center armrest
Options: Monster Mats
Other Trim Level: S; R-Line; SE; and SEL
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker audio system AM/FM/CD
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder/170-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 25-city/36-hwy
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.