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2012 Volkswagen Passat

Overview
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2012 Volkswagen Passat Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 8.2

If we were to describe the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan in as few words as possible, we'd go with "more for your money." Compared to the previous-generation Passat , this all-new, just-for-North-America sedan is bigger, costs a lot less, and comes with more stuff standard. In other words, it's the automotive equivalent of the extra-value meal at your local fast food joint. But rest assured, the refined on-road German manners that appealed to many buyers in the midsize-sedan market over the years haven't been removed from this Passat iteration. If you're looking for a practical family sedan that is also fun to drive, the new VW Passat is a worthy contender for your hard-earned dollar.

You'll Like This Car If...

Looking for a roomy, midsize sedan that offers an assortment of powertrains and a healthy amount of standard content like dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and keyless entry, all for a starting price in the low $20K range? Try the 2012 Volkswagen Passat on for size.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Although starting in the $20K price sweet spot, adding options (like an automatic transmission or a USB port) will quickly up the total for the 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan. And if you're looking for a family 4-door that stands out visually on the road, the sharp-looking Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima will draw more attention.

What's New for 2012

The Volkswagen Passat sedan is not only larger, better equipped and much lower in price for 2012. It's also tailor-made just for North America, in North America.

Driving the Passat

Driving Impressions The 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan has grown substantially to appeal to North American sensibilities, but even though it's now a larger car, the new Passat is lighter and delivers a...

refined road-going experience. Its new suspension – including a 4-link independent rear setup – cancels out most road imperfections, and body roll is nicely controlled on tight curvy roads. The 2.5-liter 5-cylinder will undoubtedly be the volume leader of the Passat's engines and is a perfectly fine around-town commuter, but if you want more zip in your drive, the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine is where you'll get your smiles. Its minimal turbo lag and plenty of low-end torque make a trip of any length a more pleasurable experience. The final feather in the VW Passat's cap: Whether you choose the 2.5-liter in-line 5, the TDI or the V6, this German sedan is one quiet ride. That's a good thing, because with segment-leading rear legroom, passengers sitting there won't need to yell to be heard.

Optional Fender Sound System
Fender's first foray into automotive sound, this 9-speaker, 400-watt system developed with Panasonic provides well-balanced and clear sound.

TDI
Offering up to 43 miles per gallon on the highway, this clean-burning diesel engine can return nearly 800 miles per tankful. Whether you can survive for that long without a rest-stop break is another matter.

2012 Volkswagen Passat Details
2012 Volkswagen Passat photo Interior

The 2012 VW Passat isn't flashy inside. Think clean lines and tasteful - but not overdone – chrome. Lower-end Passats can look vanilla, but spending a little more and moving up to the Premium level adds Autumn Nut Burl wood trim detail that brings some visual interest to the cabin. Base S models come with standard cloth seating surfaces, while SE models get V-Tex leatherette and SEL models receive the full leather treatment with suede-like "Dinamica" inserts. And while we're on the topic of seats, thanks to its longer wheelbase, rear seat passengers now enjoy 39.1 inches of legroom - which is more than any other current midsize sedan, and more than the longer and wider "4-door coupe" VW CC.

Exterior
2012 Volkswagen Passat photo

The 2012 Volkswagen Passat may not be as distinctive-looking as the Passats that came before it, but its new looks should serve it well over time. It's now sleeker and more angular in appearance, sporting a 3-bar horizontal grille and pronounced side crease lines that draw attention to the sedan's increased length. This length also allows for a more sizeable trunk – with 15.9 cubic-feet of space, it's a nearly a cubic foot larger than the trunk in the Honda Accord, which the EPA classifies as a large car. Sadly, the VW Passat Wagon is no more, so if you're looking for a family-friendly front-wheel-drive hatchback, consider a VW Jetta SportWagen, Audi A3, Acura TSX Wagon or Honda Crosstour.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

For less than $21,000 (including destination), a 2012 Volkswagen Passat S sedan comes equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, cloth seating, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a 3-year/36,000-mile maintenance program. Hoping for a USB port to plug your mobile device into? You'll have to move out of the base Passat to get it.

Optional Equipment

With a lot of available options, it's easy to spend more on a 2012 VW Passat. Worth noting: Vegan-friendly V-Tex leatherette seating, a Fender Premium audio system, an iPod interface and a quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. For a little more oomph in your daily drive, a 3.6-liter V6 or 2.0-liter 4-cylinder clean diesel engine are also on the menu.

Under the Hood

The 2012 VW Passat sedan offers three engine choices: A 2.5-liter in-line-5 shared with the smaller Jetta, a turbocharged 2.0-liter in-line-4 diesel with direct injection (TDI), and a 3.6-liter V6. There are also four transmissions available: a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic and a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission direct shift gearbox (DSG). If how much you spend at the pump is important to you, you'll be interested to know that the TDI can return a class-leading 43 mpg on the highway when matched with the manual transmission. In order to get comparable fuel economy with any other internal-combustion-engine-motivated sedan, you'd have to move down from the midsize segment.

2.5-liter in-line-5
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (manual), 22/31 (automatic)

2.0-liter in-line-4, turbodiesel
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 (manual), 30/40 (DSG Automatic)

3.6-liter V6
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (DSG Automatic)

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2012 Volkswagen Passat Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 135 Ratings for the 2012 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

TDI is the only way to go

By on Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fuel economy, torque, DSG trans is awesome"

Cons: "radio/ navigation are outdated."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I had my doubts about VW when I bought the Passat back in 2012 because I heard so many stories about the reliability. I looked at a few other sedans but opted for the TDI SE with the DSG. I have not regretted it for a single day. I went from a car with the worst transmission on the planet (a part italian owned big 3) to the BEST transmission out there. I put 87k miles on it and it still feels solid as the day I bought it. Maintenance is a bit more expensive for the TDI sure, but fuel economy makes up for it - and this is the ONLY car that I ever get better fuel economy that the EPA rating! My local VW dealer is very nice as well. I constantly get 42-43mpg on long hauls with the family. Phoenix to Las Vegas and back without stopping for fuel is nice too! I would recommend it highly."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

I'd tell you to pass!

By on Sunday, November 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,400

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
3/10
Comfort
2/10

Pros: "Good diesel mileage"

Cons: "Too many to list."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

"This car is just not a nice car. I regret purchasing this car, almost from the get go. The diesel does give great mileage; but, then you give it back when the car needs to be serviced! The 40K service was $630.00! When you factor in the servicing costs, it's cheaper for me to drive my '09 Lincoln Town Car. After all, the Town Car NEVER needs any special servicing! Now the Passat is on it's third turbo. The seats are already cracking. The car is not comfortable. I would not recommend this car. Very disappointed customer VW!"

11 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Wicked Sleeper Family Sedan

By on Saturday, November 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fast, Roomy, Awesome stereo, Reliable"

Cons: "Looks average"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Actually bought 2! Rides and handles effortlessly. VR6 motor provides plenty of torquey horsepower and feels really fast. DSG shifts smoothly-1/200th of a second. Gives V8s a run for their money! Three carseats fit in the backseat and still has plenty of front leg room. Seats wipe off easily for kid spills. Phone connects immediately through Bluetooth. Steering wheel controls convenient for skipping songs from phone while streaming Pandora or Spotify. Fender stereo is superb and highly recommended for the most discerning audiophile. Love my VR6 Passats!"

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Good Open Road car

By on Thursday, November 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,200

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Vr6 3.6L nice power"

Cons: "stiff suspension"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I have always been a VW fan. Our Passat is Black and strew tan. In Italy we owned an A8, the 2014 Passat has the same room but not all the toys and the suspension is stiffer. The transmission take learning to operate efficiently (better fuel milage)."

13 people out of 20 found this review helpful

tremendous value and quality

By on Sunday, November 02, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,890

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Build quality, fit and finish, performance and val"

Cons: "none for me"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I used to sell and service V.W.'s. I have owned six of them and traded a 2011 GTI with DSG trans for my Passat. For me, although not as performance oriented, I find this Passat to be the best built, quiet, comfortable, most substantial V.W. of all that I have owned. This new Gen III EA 888 1.8 T is a refined leap in powerplant engineering providing linear and seamless power delivery, as well as amazing fuel economy provided that the turbo isn't constantly being spooled. As an added bonus, knowing that this car was manufactured in the U.S.A. and had been by far the most reliable, best assembled, fit/finished of all my V.W.'s including my 2011 GTT is saying a lot. Having all emissions components covered for 15 years or 150,000 miles by virtue of being a PZEV vehicle, is just another of many virtues. Am I easily pleased? Just the opposite, however in this case, my 2014 SE w/roof with the new EA 888 1.8 T with 6 speed Tiptronic far exceeds my prior expectations."

7 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Disappointed

By on Saturday, November 01, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive"

Cons: "The turbo failures"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

"First, I love the way the car handles. It is has great comfort and convenience. Controls are all in a logical places and function appropriately The diesel performed as advertised (diesel prices don't change as frequent as unleaded), great mileage city and highway. Nothing better than a 600 mile roundtrip on a tank. Downside, the car is having issues with the turbo. The turbo has been replaced twice in 26000 miles. Not a cheap fix, especially if fails, requires the whole oil system to be cleaned. It is disappointing because Diesel Turbos are not new tech for VW. They have had them in Europe for years, so to me this is unacceptable. I am looking to replace the vehicle with a Jetta Diesel, which the internet boards is showing to be reliable."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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