In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal that is now over a year old, gasoline-powered VWs have sort of gotten lost in the shuffle. It is easy to overlook great cars like the VW Passat, so this week I spent some time behind the wheel of the Passat 1.8T SE.
First, it is important to know that the Passat is by no stretch a small car. It is longer, wider, and taller than a Toyota Camry, Passat has a massive amount of back seat room and trunk space.
Under the hood, there is a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that is putting out 180-horses. It is hooked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. There is an available six-cylinder engine, but performance with the 4-cylinder turbo is very good and acceleration is more than ample.
Passat Sedan is offered in five main trim levels: S, R-Line, SE, SEL and SEL Premium. My tester is the SE, the middle of the lineup, but the sporty R-Line adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and unique exterior and interior styling elements.
There was a slight freshening of the 2016 Passat, but the changes are subtle. There is a mildly revised exterior, updated center stack and full leather seating is available on upper trim levels. A rearview camera is now standard, and newly available safety features include lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and front collision warning with automatic braking.
The interior of the Passat is nice and comfortable. It is not luxurious, but this version is not priced to be. Gauges are easy to read with a driver info center between the speedometer and tachometer. There is a center touchscreen that operates the sound system, navigation system, Bluetooth, rearview camera, the CD player, and voice recognition. All of those items come standard on the SE. The system works well, but the screen itself is unusually small by today’s standards.
The only option on my test vehicle is the $1095 Lighting Package, which gets you LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED tail lights.
Driving dynamics of the Passat are good. The power steering is terrific, the air conditioning is ice cold, but if there is a complaint at all, it has a little more road noise at 70-miles per hour than I like, but I’ve been in cars that are louder.
You get a 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.
I have a unique perspective with this Passat because I usually have cars with a few hundred to a few thousand miles. This car has 16,000 miles on the odometer, so I really got a good feel for how well it is built. I will tell you, the car is flawless in every way.
Fuel economy is exceptional for a car this size at 25 in town and 38 on the highway. Driving carefully, I had stretches of over 40 MPG on the highway, which is approaching the mileage of the diesel Passats.
Price-wise, especially with the current incentives, the Passat stacks up really well with other mid-sized sedans.