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2018 Passat

Unlike the previous Volkswagen Passat, which occupied a niche in terms of sophistication and price between mass-market and luxury models, the current version is aimed right at the heart of the market and priced far more modestly. While that lower MSRP entails a few sacrifices, the Passat is still a smart buy thanks to an attractive and generously-sized interior and competent handling.

Recent changes

Volkswagen added a GT trim level with a sportier suspension.


The Passat was recently given a mid-cycle update. In the front, you'll find a new lower bumper with sculpted, protruding fog lamp surrounds. The hood is similarly more muscular, with subtle "power bulge” ridges adding character and framing the now-more-upright Volkswagen logo. Squint, and you'll note the grille now has four horizontal chrome bars rather than three, and there's a fifth in the lower grille just for good measure.

In the rear, the hexagonal license plate recess is gone and the rear reflector markers have been moved to their own recesses along the base of the trunk line.

Elsewhere, the new Passat looks essentially the same as the outgoing model. For those who want a little more visual flair, the R-Line appearance package is now available. It boasts several unique visual cues, including 19-inch wheels, a front bumper, grille insert, rear bumper and side sills. R-Line models also gain features like SiriusXM radio, heated front seats, V-tex upholstery, and a long list of electronic driving aids.

Inside, new models come standard with Volkswagen's MIB II infotainment system, which includes USB connectivity for the first time (which means no more proprietary audio cables).

Technical specifications

The volume engine for the Passat is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. It's paired to a traditional, six-speed automatic transmission. This combo is good for 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Volkswagen offers its well-known VR6 engine at an extra cost. It's a 3.6-liter unit rated at 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque when it's fed premium fuel. It spins the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; the Passat doesn't offer all-wheel drive, unlike some of its rivals.

The V6 returns 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg in a combined cycle.

Standard and optional features

The four-cylinder Passat comes in five trim levels named S, SE, SE with Technology, SEL Premium, and R-Line. V6-powered models are available in GT and SEL Premium variants.

The list of standard features includes power mirrors, automatic headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, a multi-function steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a power-adjustable driver's seat, Bluetooth connectivity, one USB port, and a five-inch touch screen.

Buyers can pay extra for a driver assistant package that bundles forward collision alert, autonomous emergency braking, a blind spot monitoring system, and rear cross traffic alert. Note some of these features come standard on more expensive trim levels.

Occupant Safety

All Passat models feature dual front, front side, and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems. Also included is an intelligent crash response system, which automatically unlocks all doors, disconnects the battery terminal from the alternator cable, shuts off the fuel supply, and turns on the hazards and interior lights in the event of a crash.

Key competitors

The Volkswagen Passat competes in the same segment as the Honda Accord, the Subaru Legacy, the Mazda6, and the Toyota Camry.