KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Volkswagen's midsize Passat has moved upstream in both size and price, leaving the new Jetta to do battle in the sub-$20,000 price range. The Passat now competes with the top-of-the-line Accord and Camry models, along with such sporty sedans as Nissan's Maxima. Loaded with featuressome unavailable on the competitionand offered in both sedan and wagon forms, the Passat continues to be the most affordable way to enjoy true German engineering without breaking the bank. A smooth and powerful turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers excellent fuel economy and V6-like acceleration powers the base model. Those seeking a bit more power can opt for a potent, but pricy, V6. Toss in an interior fit for an Audi, and you have a compelling reason to go VW.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you appreciate the typical distinctions associated with European sedanstangible and intangibleyou might consider the Passat to be one of the best values on the road.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If its driving dynamics or design distinctions don't make an impression on you, there's little reason to choose the Passat over benchmarks like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.
What's Significant About This Car?
No major changes for 2007.
If above all else you're seeking insulation from the realities of the open road, the Passat might leave you feeling a bit exposedit is neither the smoothest-riding nor the quietest car in the category. Still, we remained comfortable after hours on the road. We liked the 280-horsepower V6 but were especially impressed by the 200-horsepower 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder that's more responsive than traditional turbocharged engines. We haven't had a chance to drive the six-speed manual, but the six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission was very good and especially reactive in its sport mode. As is characteristic of European sedans in general, the Passat behaves with stability and predictability at high speeds and low. Perhaps most significantly, the all-new Passat is wholly successful in being exactly the car it wants to be.
Dynaudio Sound System
The optional 10-speaker sound system, the first in-vehicle endeavor by Dynaudio (a well-regarded Danish speaker outfit) is one of the best we've heard.
Offering a stiffer suspension, lower ride height and deep sport seats, the optional sport package makes the Passat even more of a driver's car.
Inside the Passat you'll find a combination of style and refinement unmatched by any of its non-premium competitors. Quality materials and dynamic design combine in a passenger cabin that's at once both relaxing and energetic. Leatherette seating gives even the base model an upscale feel that cloth rarely delivers. Interior trim options include wood, aluminum or composite materials. Neat features include an electronic key and electronic push-button parking brake, plus a cleverly placed umbrella holder and two cooled storage compartments. The optional Dynaudio sound system is excellent. Rear-seats offer generous legroom, and a 60/40 split seatback functionally extends the Passat's already deep but narrow trunk. Sport Package extras include sport seats and a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.
With similarities extending from their tall, V-shaped chrome grilles all the way back to their nearly identical taillights, never before have the Passat and Jetta shared such a strong family resemblanceeven though the larger Passat effectively projects itself as the more sophisticated older brother. The Passat is also bigger than the last-generation car, measuring three inches longer and three inches wider. Wheel options range from 16-inch covered steel wheels to 18-inch alloys. The big VW badge placed prominently on the back doubles as the trunk release.
Notable Standard Equipment
Even base Passats feature an impressive list of standard equipment that includes a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, six-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, single-zone climate control, AM/FM/CD-MP3 sound system, leatherette seats, power locks/mirrors/windows (one-touch up/down in front), cruise control, comprehensive trip computer, umbrella holder, keyless entry, cooled storage, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, electronic push-button parking brake, tire pressure monitoring system, 16-inch covered steel wheels and a hill-hold function that prevents roll-back during hill starts. Standard passive safety equipment includes front, front-side and two-row side-curtain airbags plus crash-active headrests and seatbelt pretensioners. Active safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes (ABS) plus stability and traction controls.
Notable Optional Equipment
The Passat's list of optional features is almost as impressive (or daunting) as its standard equipment list. Powertrain options include a 3.6-liter V6, six-speed automatic transmission and newly revised 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Other trim-level, package and stand-alone options include rear-side airbags, navigation system, power glass sunroof, six-CD changer, Dynaudio sound system, burled-walnut or brushed-aluminum trim, leather seating, multifunction steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 10- or 12-way power front seats, heated front seats, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, foglights, heated wiper nozzles, self-dimming rearview mirror and manual rear sunshades. A new sport package includes a stiffer suspension, deep sport seats and a three-spoke steering wheel with Tiptronic shift levers.
Under the Hood
We really liked the Passat's new, more powerful V6 engine, but came away even more impressed by the new four-cylinder turbo that provides plenty of power along with highway fuel economy of more than 30 miles per gallon. Six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are also new, as is the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system that now operates as a front-wheel-drive unit until extra traction is needed, thereby reducing fuel consumption. The 4MOTION system is available only in combination with the V6, while the manual transmission is available only with the 2.0 turbocharged engine. Zero-to-60 miles per hour times range from 6.2 seconds to 7.4 seconds, according to Volkswagen. The sport suspension option isn't offered on 2.0 turbocharged models.
2.0-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
200 horsepower @ 5100-6000 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1800-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 (manual), 22/31 (automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
265 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (2WD, automatic), 18/26 (AWD, automatic)
Passat pricing ranges from a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $23,820 to more than $40,000, with V6 and all-wheel-drive models starting at $30,820 and $32,770, respectively. Compared with most of its non-premium Japanese and domestic competitors, the Passat is indeed priciereven though our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world transaction prices $1,000 to $1,500 shy of MSRP. Look beyond the badges, however, and the Passat can be a bargain compared to many higher-end sedans with which it can go head-to-head in several areas, save prestige. In terms of resale (an important factor to consider when comparing vehicles), we expect the Passat to hold its value nearly as well as the most resilient competitors at both ends of its wide price range.