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2008 Volkswagen Passat

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2008 Volkswagen Passat Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors


The 2008 Volkswagen Passat competes with the top-of-the-line Accord and Camry models, along with such sporty sedans as Nissan's Maxima. Loaded with features—some unavailable on the competition—and offered in both sedan and wagon forms, the Passat continues to be an 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 sedans—tangible and intangible—you 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, which both feature base models priced below $20,000.

What's Significant About This Car?

New trim names are Turbo, Komfort, Lux and VR6. New standard features include a 12-way power driver's seat, manual side sunshades and a leather steering wheel and shift knob. Adaptive bi-xenon headlamps are made standard on the VR6.

Driving It Driving Impressions

If above all else you're seeking insulation from the realities of the open road, the 2008 Volkswagen Passat might leave you feeling a bit exposed—it 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 from low to high speeds. Perhaps most significantly, the all-new Passat is wholly successful in being exactly the car it wants to be.

Favorite Features

Dynaudio Sound System
The optional 10-speaker sound system by Dynaudio (a well-regarded Danish speaker outfit) is one of the best we've heard.

Sport Package
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.

Vehicle Details Interior   photo

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.

Exterior

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 resemblance—even 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 to 18-inch alloys. The big VW badge placed prominently on the rear doubles as the trunk release.

Notable Standard Equipment

Even base 2008 Volkswagen 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, V-Tex (simulated leather) seats, power locks/mirrors/windows (one-touch up/down in front), cruise control, comprehensive trip computer, umbrella holder, 12-way power driver's seat, keyless entry, cooled storage, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, electronic push-button parking brake, tire pressure monitoring system, 16-inch alloy 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 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, heated front seats, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, foglights, heated wiper nozzles and self-dimming rearview mirror.

Under the Hood

We really liked the 2008 Volkswagen Passat's 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 close to 30 miles per gallon. The 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system 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.

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: 21/29 (manual), 19/28 (automatic)

3.6-liter V6
280 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
265 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (2WD, automatic), 16/24 (AWD, automatic)

Pricing Notes

2008 Volkswagen Passat pricing ranges from a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $25,000 for the Turbo to more than $40,000 for the 4MOTION VR6. Compared with most of its non-premium Japanese and domestic competitors, the Passat is indeed pricier—even though our Fair Purchase Prices have reflected real-world transaction prices just below MSRP. Look beyond the badges, however, and the Passat can be a bargain when 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.

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