A long-standing presence in our market, the Volkswagen Passat is a particularly pleasant mid-size sedan to drive. With its spacious interior and bulky trunk, it is an ideal choice for motorists who love to travel.
However, over the years, buyers have moved away from sedans in favor of utility vehicles of all kinds. So much so that today, sales of the Passat have declined dramatically. Is that enough to make it uninteresting? Absolutely not. A recent test has confirmed this to us.
Modernized in 2020
The current Passat was launched for the 2020 model year, so it was last year that we saw the redesigned body and interior for the first time. It is actually an evolution of the 2012 Passat and, like the latter, it is assembled at the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.
Its interior layout is distinguished by a neat finish and high quality materials. As with the bodywork, however, the design is fairly understated, apart from the woodgrain trim that adorns the dashboard. It feels like a mid-size sedan designed by a major American manufacturer.
Like other Volkswagen products, the classic-looking instrumentation consists of rotating knobs and snaps that are easy to reach. Its use is intuitive. On the other hand, the rather low location of the small touch screen (6.33 inches) used for the infotainment system requires, when in use, to look away from the road, which is not desirable.
This infotainment system integrates Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto phone apps, Apple CarPlay and MemoLink, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio.
Lots of space on board
In terms of occupant comfort, the Passat compares favorably to its rivals with its form-fitting front seats, which support the body well, and a rear bench with generous legroom. Heated front seats are standard, while the Execline also has a heated rear bench.
With 450 L of useful volume, its trunk is spacious. It must be recognized, however, that all midsize sedans have about as large a trunk. The useful volume ratings in this class of cars range from 416 L (Mazda 6) to 453 L (Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion). At the very least, like many rivals, the rear seat of this Volkswagen has split 60/40 type backrests which allow much better than a one-piece backrest to modulate the cargo area of the trunk at will. Its opening, which is wide, is however rather short. And since it has a high threshold, loading bulky and bulky items can sometimes prove complicated.
The Passat is driven by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Adopted for this sedan in 2018, this supercharged engine is used in several different forms for other brand products. For the Passat, it makes do with regular fuel and is mated to a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, which drives the front wheels. A manual mode operated by small paddles attached to the steering wheel allows you to exploit the possibilities more finely. In addition, with 174 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque, this engine gives smooth linear acceleration, and allows this sedan to hit 100 km / h in just over 8 seconds.
EnerGuide attributes an average fuel consumption of 8.7 L / 100 km to this engine, a rating that seems realistic to us since we achieved an average of 8.5 L / 100 km. In addition, between 100 and 110 km / h, while it turns at around 1,600 rpm, this 4-cylinder is particularly discreet. On the other hand, parasitic noises coming from the rear axle, especially on a bad surface, indicate that the soundproofing could be improved.
Photo: William Clavey
However, one technical characteristic is missing from the Passat card. Indeed, this sedan does not have all-wheel drive. The 4Motion system, which is installed on the wagon sold in Europe, has never reached the shores of our continent for lack of sufficient interest among buyers, says the manufacturer. However, even if the market for mid-size sedans is contracting drastically, among the models that remain, there are more and more that offer four-wheel drive. The Subaru Legacy (always) and the new Kia K5 (how beautiful it is!) Have this system as standard equipment, while it is now available as an option for the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Altima. Moreover, these days, when driving in snow, slush and storms, one can only appreciate such a system for the increased safety it provides. This lack therefore places the Passat on par with the Hyundai Sonata and the Chevrolet Malibu, two rivals that do not have all-wheel drive.
Finally, note that for 2021, Volkswagen has chosen to reduce the range of the Passat. The basic Comfortline version has been discontinued. The range now has only two versions, which are intended to be more fully equipped. The Passat Highline becomes the new entry-level version and its standard equipment is enriched, among other things, with a sunroof and adaptive cruise control. The Passat Execline, for its part, now looks like the 2020 versions that came with the optional R-Line package. It will therefore be recognized by its 19-inch alloy wheels.
This simplification of the range and the low sales of this model (1,744 units in 2020) seem to corroborate rumors circulating in the specialized press, which evoke the imminent disappearance of this sedan. It would then make way for new … utilities! With this information in hand, the buyer will be better equipped to negotiate the price of a Passat.