By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Volkswagen Passat Wagon is the more versatile version of the all-new Passat sedan. Unlike the sedan, which competes against such benchmarks as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Passat Wagon has few (if any) direct competitors. The interior is a cut or two above that of any comparably equipped wagon in its price range and its handling characteristics are completely European sedan-like. Whether you're looking for a versatile sedan substitute or a more efficient, more enthusiastic SUV replacement, the Passat Wagon won't disappoint.You'll Like This Car If...
Combine the cargo versatility of a mid-size SUV with the driving dynamics and fuel economy of a mid-size sedan, build it with premium-like features and materials, then adorn it with a starting sticker price in the mid-$20,000 range and you've got a vehicle with an undeniable rational appeal.You May Not Like This Car If...
For anyone who puts horsepower first and foremost, the Dodge Magnum offers a 340-horsepower V8. For those who think the premium-like Passat can get a little pricey, the Mazda6 and Subaru Legacy are both available for less money.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. The 4MOTION all-wheel drive and adaptive bi-xenon headlamps are standard on the VR6.Driving It Driving Impressions
If you appreciate the nuances that define the driving characteristics of a European sedan, you'll enjoy working the controls of the Passat Wagon. We liked the smooth delivery of the powerful 280-horsepower V6, but were especially impressed by the base 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's more responsive than traditional turbocharged engines. The six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is very good and features an unexpectedly aggressive sport mode. As is characteristic of European vehicles in general, the Passat Wagon remains stable, predictable and confident at high speeds. While the Passat Wagon very accurately mimics a premium vehicle on many levels, it often isn't quite as quiet or smooth.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.
Offering a stiffer suspension, deep sport seats and a three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, the optional Sport Package makes the Passat Wagon even more of a driver's car.
Inside the Passat Wagon's refined passenger cabin you'll find a combination of quality materials and dynamic design that's at once both relaxing and invigorating. Interior trim options include wood, aluminum or composite, and standard leatherette seating gives even the base model an upscale feel. Neat features include an electronic key and electronic push-button parking brake, plus a cleverly placed umbrella holder and two cooled storage compartments. A 60/40-split seatback functionally extends the Passat Wagon's deep but narrow cargo area.Exterior
As is the case with so many new models nowadays, the Passat Wagon has grown in size, making it the largest wagon in Volkswagen's fleet. The wagon shares its distinctive face and some sheetmetal with the sedan, but the design is cohesive enough that it in no way comes across as an afterthought. Standard roof rails are a wagon exclusive, while mirror-integrated turn signals are a nice touch. Wheel options range from 16-inch alloys on the Turbo to 18-inch alloys available only on V6 models, which also feature twin single exhaust pipes flanking the left and right sides of the vehicle. The big VW badge placed prominently on the back doubles as the rear hatch release.Notable Standard Equipment
The Passat Wagon's impressive list of standard equipment includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, six-speed manual transmission, AM/FM/CD-MP3 sound system, V-Tex (imitation leather) seating, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, cooled storage bins, trip computer, electronic key, electronic push-button parking brake, 12-way power driver's seat, 16-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability and traction controls and six standard airbags, including two-row side-curtain airbags. The VR6 trim adds a potent V6 engine, 4MOTION all-wheel-drive and adaptive bi-xenon headlamps.Notable Optional Equipment
The Passat Wagon's optional equipment list includes leather seating, navigation system, power glass sunroof, six-disc CD changer, premium sound system, multifunction steering wheel, heatable power front seats, automatic wipers, foglights, and rear-seat side airbags. Options limited to the VR6 include adaptive cruise control and heated washer nozzles.Under the Hood
We really liked the Passat's powerful V6 engine, but we also never wanted for power from the four-cylinder turbo that delivers both fine performance and highway fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon. The 4MOTION all-wheel-drive systemavailable only with the V6operates as a front-wheel-drive unit until extra traction is needed, thereby reducing fuel consumption.
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), 20/28 (automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
265 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24
The Passat Wagon's pricing ranges from a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $26,000 for the Turbo, to more than $43,000 for a loaded VR6. Because the Passat Wagon was a new model last year, we expect its Fair Purchase Price to reflect real-world selling prices close to MSRP. Other wagons within the Passat Wagon's price range include the Mazda6 Wagon (MSRPs ranging from $24,000 to about $32,000), the Subaru Legacy Wagon (MSRPs from the low $20,000 range to over $32,000) and the Dodge Magnum (MSRPs from the mid-$20,000 range to about $45,000). In terms of resale value, we expect the 2008 Passat Wagon to perform notably better than each of the alternatives listed here.