By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (DSG Automatic)
By David on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "it's perfect for anyone"
Cons: "make in usa"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"my car is an exc.condition out side and interior , maintenance at vw dealer only with less than 21000 miles"
By I-Man on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good on fuel,"
Cons: "VW making standard equip. an option"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The 2012 SE I have, had the climate control A/C as standard equip., VW nickel and dimes for the following years by taking that out of the SE2 in the following model years, no longer offers the five cylinder, they cut back on the 10,000 mile oil changes from three to two, minor points I imagine but enough for me to look at other manufactures."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By Tin on Saturday, January 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Overall great car. The interior cheap looking but has lots of leg room. For fuel economy better option than a hybrid."
9 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By SteveS on Sunday, January 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, comfort, reliability and mileage"
Cons: "Level of service at some VW dealerships"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The cars handling, comfort, reliability and especially the mpg we get has exceeded expectations. We truly love this car."
22 people out of 44 found this review helpful
By Bob the road warrior on Sunday, January 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mileage"
Cons: "Unreliable and above average cost of maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"We've owned this car for 2 1/2 years and driven about 60k miles, primarily all highway miles. We've had the O2 sensors all replaced and continue to fail about every 3000 miles or so - check engine light comes on. The last time was about a month ago and now the dealer told us they need to replace the sensors once again and update the onboard computer. Fortunately we purchased the extended warranty or this would be costing us a lot of money. Yes, the mileage is great with the TDI. However the cost for service and repairs far outweighs any of the savings you might gain. The ride is noisy, lots of road noise, as compared to other sedans we've driven. We purchased this thinking it would save us a lot of money on gas / fuel, if that's what your looking for I wouldn't recommend purchasing the TDI based on our experience."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Johnny Hurryup on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love it"
Cons: "Steering wheel electronics complicated"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fastest car I've owned in a long time(280hp) Still gets 32mpg hway if I take it easy. Wish the seats were leather instead of VW tex. Didn't get the real leather because it has like suede inserts. The Fender stereo is fantastic. The power seat doesn't tilt. Styling doesn't really stand out in a crowd."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful