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 vw diesel owner on Tuesday, September 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage, huge back seat area and trunk"
Cons: "wierd placement of steering wheel to drivers seat,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"only had to fill up twice a month typically unless I had a long trip. The drivers side seat is off set to the steering wheel - something I did not notice until after the purchase and it bugged me. The vehicle ran great and I did not need to fill it up much which is AWESOME! plenty of room for passengers and luggage and golf clubs! Overall good and reliable car."
26 people out of 47 found this review helpful
By Smith on Thursday, September 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 700overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Cons: "radio ...."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Solid sedan, great acceleration cheep radio. Cars that cost 10K less now days have better radio than this model."
8 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By JMCIII on Sunday, August 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,050overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid build, good handling, well laid out"
Cons: "Wish gas mileage was better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Bought my 2013 VW Passat S used, so I didn't have to deal with the break-in period. Car is solidly built and feels good on the road - that is, I feel connected to the road, but without the harsh ride of a sports car. The interior is well laid out, with everything within easy reach. Seats are comfortable and adjustable. While some (both pro and consumer) reviews malign the in-line 5 cylinder engine for its (seeming) lack of power and fuel economy, personally I've found the engine to offer all the power I need for most driving comditions (though there is a slight lag when you first step on the gas, but then it takes right off). But to off-set this, there is the "S"port gear that mimics the acceleration of a sports car if you need it - and can be shifted into and out of at any time. BIG trunk, and the legroom in the back seats is second to none in its class. Plus there is plenty of room for the driver and passenger. Road noise is low, and I LOVE having the Bluetooth for music and phone. Can't yet speak about reliability as I haven't had the car long enough, but other then my wish for better fuel economy (who doesn't wish for that?), I've found the basic version of the Passat to be a fine car for the money."
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Kim on Saturday, August 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, affordable& luxurious"
Cons: "No cons :)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I can't stop looking at this car.. I bought it in May of 2013 and I'm in love with it still. Everytime I park it I look back to see what it looks like lol I recommend buying this car because it's beautiful, luxurious, smooth and affordable."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By parbob on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "GREAT PRICE AND FUN TO DRIVE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I HAVE OWNED THE VEHICLE FOR 18 MONTHS MILEAGE WAS LISTED AT 34 CITY 40 HWY. I AM GETTING 42 IN CITY OVER 50 MPG HIGHWAY. GREAT VEHICLE VERY DEPENDABLE RIDE IS QUIET AND SMOOTH.I AM STILL AMAZED AT THE MPG'S I AM GETTING. I DROVE THIS VEHICLE FROM LAKE CITY , FLORIDA TO MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE ON LESS THAN A TANK OF FUEL. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR FUEL ECONOMY AND COMFORT THIS IS YOUR VEHICLE."
13 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By pfnator on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and excellent MPG"
Cons: "no backup camera or sensors on this version"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been the best vehicle I have ever owned so far. I purchased a 2013 TDI SE version with the DSG transmission. I average over 40 MPG in mixed driving. Where I was filling up every week in my old vehicle I now can go 2 weeks on a fill up which is around 700 miles. Took the car on a trip to Atlanta and got over 50 MPG. And this is before the engine has gotten broken in. Have not a problem with the car. Interior room is extremely large and seats are comfortable. You can get similar mileage to a small hybrid car with the Passat yet you have a lot more room."
14 people out of 27 found this review helpful